ISD 709 News 8/27/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Families,

As we prepare to start the school year our most important work has been to create a district plan to meaningfully engage all learners and while keeping students and staff healthy and safe. This, as you know, is not a normal school year. We are developing new and different ways of doing things and there are still questions we’re working on and need to answer.

This week, after much research and consultation with stakeholders, we shifted our planning to an elementary hybrid/secondary distance learning model, to be used through the first quarter of this year.

It's important to understand the "why" when key decisions like this are made. We've created a video to review what we took into consideration. We looked at our current resources, current local COVID numbers and trends, met with staff and consulted with our District Advisory Committee for input. Sharing information is important during this challenging time and I invite you to view the update to the Board and the presentation.

We also created a video this week that takes a look at Distance Learning 2.0 in Duluth Public Schools.

Principals, department and program heads are working daily to put in place the systems and schedules necessary to support safe, engaging learning for students. This includes following up with families and seeking out students who are not yet registered for the new school year - we need their information in order to finalize plans. This follow up requires time and resources, I'm grateful for the efforts of everyone involved to reach every student and every family.

With sincerity and gratitude,

John Magas

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

Welcome Eve Hessler, Interim Lowell Principal

Ms. Hessler comes to Lowell from Denfeld High School where she served as a Spanish teacher. Her experience includes middle school Dean for Hermantown Public Schools, Spanish teacher for Hermantown and Two Harbors public schools and Holy Rosary School. She participated in administrative mentorships at Laura MacArthur and Denfeld summer programs. Ms. Hessler holds Educational Specialist Licensure from Saint Mary's University, an MAE in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University, a BAE Magna Cum Laude in Secondary Spanish and Social Studies from Pacific Lutheran University.

Please help welcome and support Eve Hessler in her new position!

Welcome! Starting School - September 2020

General information is shared at ISD709.org/ReturnToLearn and look for specific information from your child's school. This is not a normal school year! We're working on new ways of doing things and there are still questions to answer.

When will school start for Grades 1 - 12?
All students in grades 1 - 12 will start September 8 and begin 9 days of distance learning/digital engagement days (September 8 - 18) to prepare to use the new online learning platforms and for elementary hybrid learning.

When will school start for Kindergarten?
Kindergarten students will start September 10 and will begin 7 days for distance learning/digital engagement preparation days (September 10 - 18). There will be an opportunity for Kindergarten families to individually meet with teachers on September 8 and 9. Kindergarten Connection meetings can be scheduled either virtually or in-person. Your student's school will be sending information with specific details. Kindergarteners will begin learning in distance learning/digital engagement for the following seven days.

What will happen during the digital engagement days?
Students will take part in welcoming activities with their teacher, relationship building, student and family training in classroom digital tools, internet safety, and setting expectations for learning and COVID safety protocols. Students will also engage with learning content as well. In-person and virtual meetings may take place with teachers.

Tier 1 Emergency Child Care Registration - Due Sept 2, 8AM

Per the Governor's Executive Order 20-82 ISD 709 Duluth Community Education, in collaboration with the Duluth Family YMCA will provide school-aged care for Eligible Children at no cost during the time those children are not receiving instruction in the school building during regular school hours.

  • Service begins September 8.
  • Service provided to ISD 709-enrolled children of Tier 1 eligible workers at no cost during regular school hours (7:45am – 2:15pm).
  • Families who need care before or after these posted times must also register with KEY Zone for their program at www.duluthcommunityed.org.
  • Service provided for youth age 4 to 12 years old who are enrolled in the Duluth Public Schools with elementary hybrid model, full distance learning as a middle schooler and 4 year olds registered in the Voluntary PreKindergarten program.
  • Both parents must meet one of the Tier-1 eligible occupations and both parents must currently be working outside of the home.
  • Registration must be submitted prior to attending the program.
  • Tier 1 verification must be provided the first day your student attends the program.

Detailed Information, Registration Form

Questions? Contact: 218-336-8760 or communityeducation@isd709.org

For KEY Zone: 218-336-8900 x2

Distance Learning 2.0 Update

With help from Joe Schingen, our new Digital Learning Coordinator, we have a video overview of what the new distance learning platforms look like for Duluth students and families and the supports that are available.

Both systems are robust, engaging and easy to navigate. Teachers will have ongoing training and support to provide their content through both systems. Teachers will be able to use the learning platforms to provide students with video instruction, help students participate in interactive activities and assignments, take tests, talk with each other in discussion groups and much more.

What technology will families need?
We recommend some type of computer with keyboard. It is possible but more difficult to participate with a smart phone. If a family is going to purchase a device, find an inexpensive Chromebook which is easiest to use and manage. Any laptop, desktop, or tablet with a keyboard will also work

What if a family doesn’t have access to the internet?
Duluth Public Schools is working with PC’s for People to assist in distributing hot spots to families without access to reliable wi-fi. Community partners and organizations are working to provide more internet accessibility throughout the City of Duluth.

What if a family doesn’t have a device/technology to access the internet?
Duluth Public Schools has invested in 1,500 more Chromebooks to be used to maintain 1 device for every 2 students in families, and the District will begin to move towards a 1 to 1 device inventory.

Requests for District devices to be used for digital learning will be coordinated at the building level.

Sharing School Bus Safety Protocols

ISD 709 Transportation Manager Steve Johnson worked with WDIO-TV10 to share information with the community about school bus safety protocols. We appreciate all the work our bus drivers and transportation staff are doing to help prepare a safe ride for students.


#Inspire709 #WheelsOnTheBus


  • Following Stay Safe MN 2020-2021 Planning Guide for Schools, school buses are limited to 50% capacity for students and a 6 foot distance created between the driver and students.
  • All persons driving or riding in a school transportation vehicle older than 5 years of age must wear a face covering (unless exempted).
  • Students will fill the bus from back to front and assigned seats may be implemented based on routes and capacities.
  • Clean and disinfect transportation vehicles regularly, focusing on frequent cleaning of touched surfaces in the vehicle.

  • Keep doors and windows open when cleaning the vehicle and between trips to let the vehicles thoroughly air out.

  • People must stay home and not board transportation if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19.

  • A student who becomes ill during the school day will use alternate transportation home.

  • If a driver becomes sick during the day, they must follow protocols outlined for people who are ill and must not return to drive students.

  • Drivers who observe symptoms on any riders will report observations to the COVID-19 building coordinator.

Please Apply for Free/Reduced Price Lunch

There's no difference between students who receive free/reduced price lunch and those who don't. All children use the school lunchroom keypad to input their student number when receiving meals.

Applying for free or reduced-price lunch is easy and confidential.

Apply online at www.paypams.com/onlineapp, it's safe, secure, convenient, available 24/7.

OR hard copy forms are available from the school office, from the Child Nutrition Office or download an Application for free and reduced meals.

  • Qualifying for free or reduced price lunch may also qualify families to pay a lower fee or no fee for school activities.
  • Students who qualify take the ACT Test at school for free.
  • Families who qualify are helping Duluth schools receive additional education funds and discounts.
  • Children in households participating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Minnesota Family Investment Plan (MFIP), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) and foster children can get free school meals without reporting household income.
  • Also, children can get free or reduced price meals if their household income is within the income shown for the household size on the instructions.

A new application must be submitted each school year. Approval for school meals is good for the school year.

Questions about Free or Reduced Price meals? Please call us at 218-336-8807, we're happy to help!

ISD 709 News

We know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools - 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.
Community Support for Students, Families

CHUM Duluth held its annual backpack giveaway this week after raising $25,000 to hand out 1,400 backpacks to students in need.

Staff from CHUM say the generosity from the Northland was overwhelming this year.

“It’s always great to see this sort of happening,” said Scott Van Daele, the director of distributive services at CHUM. “The community of Duluth and really the Twin Ports is amazing anyway. And they’re huge supporters of CHUM and what we do so this is just one more thing we’ve asked and pleaded and begged for and the community has come through.”


Duluth News Tribune


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