ISD 709 News 1/14/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

The 2021 calendar year has already proven to be a time of great change and excitement, yet not without questions.

As we move towards in-person teaching and learning at the elementary level, I want to assure you that we are well prepared for a safe and engaging return over the coming weeks. I also empathize with the concerns that you as parents, as well as our staff may be experiencing. We have worked hard behind the scenes to provide you with the answers to the questions that people have and will continue to update you as frequently as possible.

Some people have asked about our rationale for returning to in-person instruction. Here are some of our reasons:

Current research supports in-person instruction for elementary instruction

  • Our current reality supports the need to move towards in-person instruction

    • No spread between students and staff

    • High demand for meeting the needs of our youngest learners

  • The governor’s guidance focuses on prioritizing in-person instruction for elementary students

Again, I want to again say, very clearly, that I understand that concerns remain, but I assure you that we will do everything within our power to keep our students and staff safe.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: ReturnToLearn@isd709.org

Update: Elementary In-Person Learning

As we return elementary schools to in-person learning, the safety of students, teachers and staff is of utmost importance.

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.

We’re following a rolling start process (required by MDH and MDE) in which students are gradually brought back in the building.

We’ll bring in Pre-K through second graders first, and then grades three through five two weeks later:

  • Monday, January 25: Pre-Kindergarten through second grade return

  • Monday, February 8: Grades three through five return

  • Families may choose to remain in distance learning if they wish.

To prepare for the transition, there will be no distance learning for elementary students Pre-K through Grade 5 January 19, 20, and 21.

Those three days were chosen to reduce the impact on students - they’re sandwiched between the Martin Luther King Jr. student holiday Monday January 18 and the Friday January 22 semester break, another student holiday. Note, Tier 1 emergency childcare will be provided January 19, 20, 21.

A web page is prepared to help families understand in general what to expect when students are in school. It may be updated with new information as planning continues. Each elementary is sharing school-specific information with families, too, please check with your school if you have questions.

View the Web Page

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work to bring students back to school safely.


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

COVID Vaccine Update

From the Stay Safe MN Website:

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is currently vaccinating the last groups in Phase 1A, which is for health care workers and residents of long term care facilities.

  • Based on CDC and federal vaccine advisory group recommendations, Phase 1B will include people with certain jobs that don’t allow them to work from home, put them at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19, and are in essential industries.

  • Phase 1B may also include people whose age puts them at higher risk for serious health complications if they contract COVID-19.

Learn More

Lifting Up COVID Safety

COVID safety is more important than ever, as local schools begin bringing students back to in-person learning and athletics and activities resume.

“With vaccines on the way and local numbers going down, we definitely have a lot of hope,” said John Magas, Superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. “We don’t want another spike, however. For our schools and our communities, we encourage everyone to continue to follow COVID safety protocols.”

In a series of video messages and posters, members of the Duluth, Superior and Proctor school districts and others are encouraging citizens to continue to follow COVID safety guidelines to help our Northland communities.

Northland We Can 1

Northland We Can 2

Northland We Can 3

More COVID Safety Tips: staysafe.mn.gov

Many thanks to all who are helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

Sources of Strength: Week 8

Mental Health

Our mental health is a very important part of living a healthy life, and oftentimes, getting together with a trusted person, a counselor, or a doctor can help empower us to overcome internal struggles we might be facing. Getting support is a gift to yourself. Mental Health is all about getting the support we need and deserve to help us when we are struggling. We would always seek treatment for physical pain, and mental health needs to be the same way.

Conversation starters for you at home:

  • Which of the big three emotions, anger, anxiety or sadness is most common when you are stressed or challenged? What helps you manage that emotion?

  • Who are people in your life that help you? What do they do that is helpful to you?

  • What activities help you feel joy? What activities are calming?

Activities for you to do at home:

  • Start a journal

  • Close your eyes, visualize one thing you are grateful for.

  • Put your headphones on, sing out loud and DANCE!

  • Find unique ways to connect with peers and extended family

There are great additional activities and resources linked here. Check it out!

Mental Health Activities

Twin Ports 2021 MLK Day - January 18

A Virtual Celebration



January 18, 2021
8:30 – 9:00am Pre-Event Show
9:00 – 10:15am MLK Breakfast

Featuring Dr. Bernice King and Ambassador Andrew Young.

A fundraiser to benefit UNCF Twin Cities MLK Legacy Scholarship Fund helping local students go to and through college. Sponsored by UNCF and supported by the General Mills Foundation.

Click here for more information.

Register for the Livestream

For your congregation, select "Duluth location - local community."


January 18, 2021

12:00 - 1:30 pm View livestream of rally

More information for the event will be provided as it is available.

State 2021 MLK Day

From the MN Department of Human Rights:

Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan are excited to celebrate Dr. King with students across the state!

The celebration premieres at 10:30 am on January 18. Join the conversation on social using #MNMLK and we’ll have questions and activities for you.

Event Link

We’ll be joined by Matthew A. Cherry, an award-winning director, writer, and producer. His animated short film and book, Hair Love, follows the relationship between Zuri, her natural hair, and her father.

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.

We're Hiring!

As we look forward to our students returning, we are seeking to add to our valuable team of Cafeteria / Playground Monitors. A great opportunity to engage with youth in our community and perfect for parents interested in "earning while the kids are learning."

Follow the link to apply!

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Denfeld Student Athlete Named to All States Region Team

Congratulations, Keegan Chastey, named to 2020 Soccer Coaches All-Great Lakes Region Team!


#Inspire709 #HunterPride


Duluth East HS Nordic Skier Featured In DNT Article

Nordic ski enthusiasts have been taking advantage of the wintry weather since the first snows in mid-autumn. And ski trails have to be one of the safest places to be during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s pretty hard not to be socially distant, we’re pretty far away from each other,” Duluth East junior Lily Brown quipped.

Read the Duluth News Tribune Article

#Inspire709 #WeCanNorthland


Lincoln Park MS Artist of the Week

Congratulations, Anya K.! Anya was nominated because she is a very strong artist and works hard to complete quality work in spite of the many challenges of distance learning. Her picture is inspired by Amsterdam landscape artist Toon Tieland.



Denfeld Girls Basketball Opens Season

Coach Adair Ballavance: "We have an amazing group of young ladies who are working hard, and they're very excited to be here. We should do very well playing a good schedule and have a lot of very winnable games. We're taking a lot of precautions, and following the Minnesota state guidelines for COVID. Hopefully, once the vaccination gets out there, maybe some of the masks can come off. But we're all about being safe."

#Inspire709 #WeCanNorthland


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

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