ISD 709 News 1/7/21

From The Board Chair & Superintendent

Dear Families -

As educators, we play an important role in teaching young people the significance of the United States Constitution, the election process and the important values of citizenship, good sportsmanship, respect and compassion for others and civility.

Yesterday’s appalling, painful and inexcusable invasion and interruption of the democratic process demonstrates the fragility of our democracy. We hope those responsible for inciting, supporting and taking part will be held accountable.

This is a teachable moment. As people who work with children - families, teachers, staff, volunteers, caring community members - we have an opportunity, even a responsibility, to model and teach a better way.

President-Elect Joe Biden said, “The world is watching—and like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long a beacon of light, hope and democracy, has come to such a dark moment.”

Our children are watching, too. Let them see us take this “dark moment” and use it as inspiration to continue working toward a more inclusive, equitable and just society.

We know that it is sometimes difficult to find the words to talk with children about these events. Below are suggestions for talking with young people about what happened.

As our community and nation continues to reflect and address the impact of this event, please take care of yourself and those around you.

Jill Lofald, Board Chairperson

John Magas, Superintendent

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

Addressing News and Current Events: Tips For All Kids

Responding to Children’s Emotional Needs During Times of Crisis (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)

Common Sense Media

Detailed tips for kids under 7, ages 8 - 12, teens

Consider your own reactions. Your children will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will, too.

Take action. Depending on the issue and kids' ages, families can find ways to help those affected by the news. Kids can write postcards to politicians expressing their opinions; families can attend meetings or protests; kids can help assemble care packages or donate a portion of their allowance to a rescue/humanitarian effort. Check out websites that help kids do good.

Under 7 Years

Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news at the top of the hour and half hour.

Stress that your family is safe. At this age, kids are most concerned with your safety and separation from you. Try not to minimize or discount their concerns and fears, but reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe. .

Be together. Though it's important to listen and not belittle their fears, distraction and physical comfort can go a long way. Snuggling up and watching something cheery or doing something fun together may be more effective than logical explanations about probabilities.

8–12 Years

Be available for questions and conversation. At this age, many kids will see the morality of events in stark black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take what you say to the bank. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they'll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts.


Check in. Since, in many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently of you, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It will also help you get a sense of what they already know or have learned about the situation from their own social networks. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix (just don't dismiss theirs, since that will shut down the conversation immediately).

!DEADLINE: Elementary In-Person: Model Selection Form

Birth to Grade 5 Families, Please Complete the Model Selection Form By January 8

Governor Walz, the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health have authorized elementary schools and early learning programs to operate an in-person learning model as long as they are able to implement all updated health and safety measures.

Starting on January 25, all elementary schools and early childhood programs of Duluth Public Schools will begin a return to full in-person learning.

Elementary In-Person FAQ

In order for the transition to in-person learning to be safe and successful for all, we need families to confirm what they plan to do. Please complete one form for each of the birth to grade 5 students in your household by Friday January 8. Updated student learning model selection is critical for thoughtful planning and preparation, and for getting students back into their classrooms while keeping everyone in our school community safe.


Additional Information:


Update: MN Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year

Please note, when the district returns to in-person learning for Birth to Grade 5 students, Tier 1 childcare will no longer be available to students in these grade levels. Please contact K.E.Y. Zone if you are in need of before or after school childcare options.

Update: Tier 1 Childcare & KEY Zone

Transitioning to Elementary In Person will significantly impact Tier 1 Childcare & KEY Zone. Participating families are receiving detailed information regarding these impacts.

Read the Details

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this time of continuous change. Please know that we are continuing to monitor this situation and are striving to provide the best care that we can during this time. For questions, please connect Melissa Fanning, Executive Director at 218-722-4745 x107 or mfanning@duluthymca.org.


Attendance is crucial for our students to stay current, continue growing, and for their mental health. As we continue to navigate Distance Learning as educators and families, we need to remember the importance of daily attendance. Attendance has a correlation to all components of well being (physical, emotional, mental) and can be a predictor to many facets of a successful life.

Here are some important reminders in regards to Attendance:

  • Parents/guardians and teachers, please mark student attendance by 4:00 PM each day

Students will be credited for positive attendance for a day(s) when:

  • When a student/family/teacher checks attendance on IC each day OR

  • When a student has demonstrated activity on their SeeSaw/Canvas activity calendar that is aligned to assignment date, OR

  • Connection made with a staff member (i.e. by phone, email, text, google meet), OR

  • Weekend work will be credited for the date/days where work was assigned and completed. Verification of that work completion must be made by teacher, clerical, administration or authorized staff.

Sources of Strength: Week 7

Physical Health/Medical Access

Happy New Year! A new year can mean a new start and goals that focus on our physical health. When we are sick or injured, we don’t have to stay in pain. We can get better with access to the medical care we need and deserve. Physical and social/emotional pain are often integrated and it is important to take care of our bodies, hearts and minds. Feeling good physically will boost our mental health! Which is why it is so important to eat healthy, get exercise, and stay engaged.

Conversation starters for you at home:

  • What is your plan to keep your body healthy in 2021?

  • How can we as a family show support for medical and mental health professionals?

  • When was a time you were grateful for medical access for yourself or someone you love?

Activities for you to do at home:

  • Practice mindful eating. Learn about nutrition and what makes your body strong

  • Make a family work out plan and see how long you can sustain your momentum

  • Make dental and annual medical appointments

For additional ways to support your physical health check out this link:

Physical Health/Medical Access

Online: Sources of Strength

NEW! Duluth Community Education Course Catalog

Duluth Community Education provides opportunities for all ages through classes and activities serving people’s social, recreational, enrichment and academic needs.

Classes offered in a variety of formats including in-person, online and at-home kits with instructional videos

Make felted luminaries, walking sticks; learn digital photography, geocaching, ecstatic dance, ballroom dance, beginning backpacking for women, meditation, stress management, guitar, ukelele, banjo lessons, Zumba, fitness 101, weighted Hula Hoop, yoga, aqua fitness, swim lessons, much more.

Register for classes online using VISA, MasterCard or Discover.

View the Winter 2020 Online Catalog

Register for Classes Online

Denfeld Student Attains Highest Possible ACT Score

Congratulations, Phoenix Ocean, Denfeld High School! Nationwide, over 1.67 million students have taken the ACT this year and 5,579 scored a 36.

From the article:

For the past year, Ocean has served as the Denfeld student representative on the Duluth School Board and she has been one of the most vocal student representatives. Ocean has worked with her counterpart on the School Board, East High School senior Nabiha Imtiaz, on showing a united front with issues that are important to students.

They have both been vocal about school resource officers, distance learning issues and student mental health issues during distance learning.

“Phoenix is a brilliant creative and reflective leader that pushes those around her to make better decisions and more thoughtful solutions to complex issues,” Superintendent John Magas said.

Duluth News Tribune

Kind Comments, Tier 1 Childcare

A few comments from the KEY Zone Facebook page. We appreciate everything Tier 1 and KEY Zone staff do for students and families every day.

“Thank you for everything you are doing! We really appreciate you and your staff!”

“Thanks so much for your hard work with the kids.”

“I’m literally tearing up. You have no idea how much pressure is taken off my chest. Thank you!”

“What an amazing thing for families that their children will be able to complete some of their schoolwork during Tier 1 childcare. I'm sure that takes a great deal of stress off of them!”

More About Duluth KEY Zone

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) PLCs

ECFE's Professional Learning Community discussed Reflection with Families. Using the skills and principles of reflective parenting to support reflective thinking.

More About Duluth Early Childhood

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