From the Office of the Superintendent 4/24/20

Weekly Briefing for ISD 709 Faculty & Staff

Dear Colleagues,

This week begins with a huge shout out to staff working to ensure we've reached every student served by our schools. Principals are reporting back having reached every student and, where there are unreached students, numbers are often in the single digits. This type of outreach and relationship building is crucial at any time and especially during distance learning. Thanks to all for their ongoing work.

Governor Tim Walz ordered this week that distance learning will continue for Minnesota schools through the remainder of the school year. While we expected the Governor might extend distance learning we appreciate the certainty that comes with this announcement.

Keeping safety and health top of mind, we’ll continue to provide distance learning services, free meals for students, emergency child care and we’ll continue to review and adjust what we do to serve Duluth families and students.

Our schools will work with students and families to identify creative and meaningful ways to celebrate graduation and other traditional rites of passage. For example, donors are helping place a celebratory sign in each senior's yard, recognizing them as a member of the Class of 2020. Stadiums at Denfeld and Duluth East shine brightly each Monday at 8:20PM in honor of these students and with hope for our future.

At this week's regular School Board meeting, we recognized the response of the employees of ISD 709, see below for Board Chair Jill Lofald's full comments. We honored the families and students of ISD 709, for their flexibility, patience and partnership in their child's education. And we expressed gratitude to the citizens and community partners who support our work.

As Board Chair Lofald said, "when we're challenged by events we can't control, it helps to sit back and take stock in what's good."

Colleagues, you're a big part of what's good in all of this. Thank you.

Kind regards,


If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: Superintendents@ISD709.org. Twitter: @billgronseth

Thank You, Duluth Administrative Professionals

Throughout it all, the people in these key positions keep offices and schools organized and work to meet the needs of our families and students. A tough job at any time but especially during the fast-paced, often chaotic and ever-changing transition to distance learning. What we do is only possible with their help and expertise, many thanks.

Thank You, Duluth School Library Media Specialists

Governor's Proclamation
This week we celebrated April 20 as School Library Media Specialists Day in Minnesota. These professional educators provide students with the skills they need to access and use information throughout their lives. They work alongside school district administrators, teachers in every content area, and technology personnel facing the unique challenges currently taking place during distance learning. They give guidance in selecting and curating print and electronic resources, promote information, digital, and traditional literacies to students, and teach digital citizenship and cybersecurity. Through this work, they contribute to an interest in life-long learning and enhance the quality of life. Many thanks for all you do!
#Inspire709 #RockStars
April School & Community Recognition

Presented by Jill Lofald, Duluth School Board Chairperson

Often when times are hard, when we’re challenged by events we can’t control, it helps to sit back and take stock of what’s good. Some call it practicing gratitude, and this month we have much to be thankful for.

In the face of the pandemic, we as a Board recognize and commend the response of the employees of ISD 709. Across all departments and bargaining units, the work is awe-inspiring. Creating a distance learning plan over several days. Feeding children, delivering curriculum packets, providing childcare for critical workers. Keeping buildings sanitized. All of the work behind the scenes to support all of these efforts. Our lives have changed, the commitment to serving the children and families of Duluth remains.

We honor the families and students of ISD 709, for their flexibility and willingness to support a new way of doing things, for their patience and partnership in their child’s education.

We extend thanks to citizens and community partners who are providing additional food for families and children, cloth face coverings for our staff, messages of support and thanks in social media and other venues.

As we move forward, and I’ll quote Superintendent Gronseth, “Let's support each other and rely on one another like all those people we learn about in our history books. People who found strength together in times of great struggle.”

May all of us, our families, our students and school families be safe and well during these unprecedented times.

ISD 709 Employee COVID-19 Information

Staff in Human Resources are compiling information for Duluth Public Schools employees and posting it online. Information currently includes:

  • Duluth Public Schools Coronavirus Response Guide
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
  • PEIP Information Related to COVID-19 Coverage
View the Page

Prevention Tips: Protecting Ourselves, Our Families, Our Community


  • Wash hands frequently & thoroughly

  • Cough/sneeze into your elbow/sleeve

  • Don’t touch your face/eyes/mouth/nose.

  • Wear a cloth face covering in public places

  • Stay home and avoid gatherings with people outside of your household

  • Keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others when you do go out (social distancing)

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

  • Stay home if you feel sick (fever >100, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat)

Pay Attention To Your Mental Health and Reduce Stress By:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise.

  • Creating a regular routine.

  • Connecting with family and friends through calls, texts, or video chats.

  • Getting information from reliable sources.

  • Reaching out if you need to talk to someone. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available:

    • Call the warm line at 651-288-0400 or text “Support” to 85511 or call 1-877-404-3190
    • Call the crisis team at **CRISIS (**274747) or click here for the county numbers. Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 by texting MN to 74174
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990

Tips for Sleep and Relaxation

Sleep is an important part of staying well. Dr. Dave Plude, Arrowhead Psychological Clinic; Kayla Bowen, RN and Dr. Franklyn, Essentia Sleep Clinic; Duluth Public Schools Mental Health and Well-Being Team offer these tips.

View the Video

Tip Sheet

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools (in building or distance learning) - let's make sure we're letting everyone else know, too! Share your school, student, staff accomplishments, projects and events with Kathleen.Kaufman@ISD709.org, they'll be used in email newsletters, social media, websites and other communication venues.

Honoring Denfeld, Duluth East Seniors

Yard signs recognizing the Class of 2020 at Denfeld and Duluth East High Schools will be provided to seniors through generous community donations.

Signs will be delivered to students by principals and staff.

Many thanks to Tate & Setterlund and Wescom for this opportunity.
#Inspire709 #CommunitySupport #Grateful

Live Tour of Old Central Clock Tower

Bill Gronseth recently gave Duluth citizens a live tour of the Old Central Clock Tower via Facebook. Was it popular? To date, over 28,000 views, 592 comments, 418 shares.

Alumni signatures, inner workings of the clock mechanism, beautiful views. And, listen closely, Bill touches on the topic of paranormal activities.

Watch the Tour

#History #HailRedAndWhite #IsItHaunted

Fun and Learning at Lowell

Painting spring themed pictures, learning about reactions with a STEM experiment, making robots with creative buttons, more - emergency child care program at Lowell Elementary. The program serves children of critical workers and is offered at Congdon, Lowell and Laura MacArthur Elementaries


More Information

Lakewood Elementary Video

Staff at Lakewood Elementary created a video for their students and families, expressions of support and hope.

View the Video

#Inspire709 #MissOurStudents #StaySafe


Stowe Classroom Family

Teacher Aimee Redetzke provided "Classroom Family T-shirts" for her Third Grade students. Aimee says she hopes "we can feel like we're together while we are doing our distance learning from home."

Thank you, Aimee, for the photo and information.

#Inspire709 #Together


Duluth East Principal Danette Seboe on Distance Learning

“Our primary focus is to stay connected with our students and their families, to support them when we’re not together. We’re reaching out academically, socially and emotionally with phone calls, emails, video chats. We begin with, ‘How are you doing?’ before we move forward academically.

"We’re concerned for our students, whether one of their family members is sick or lost a job, they’re taking on extra roles to help at home, or are feeling isolated or lonely. Our counselors and social worker are available for mental health support, too. It’s especially hard for our seniors. The prospect of losing their big senior events is really troubling.

"The amount of time, energy and heart our staff and students are putting into it is phenomenal. However, our students do miss being with their friends and classmates in person. Even though many can connect digitally, it can still be very lonely. These are stressful times for everyone and we are doing our best to support each other and our entire school community.”



Student Work Chosen for Art Display

Sixteen Lincoln Park Middle School 6th graders were chosen to have their artwork displayed at the Denfeld Whole Foods Co-op during the month of April. Due to the coronavirus, this special opportunity has been moved to July 2020. Congratulations, students - your work is worth the wait!

Thank you, Chrissy Valento, for the photo and info.



Future's So Bright...

...gotta wear shades. Staff at Laura MacArthur Elementary having a fun Friday,

keeping spirits high.



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Hunter Humor - Posted on the Denfeld Facebook Page

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