For ISD 709 Faculty & Staff 11/6/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Colleagues,

No one would choose to educate children in the way that we are doing so now. All of us are trying to make the best of a challenging situation. We know that, despite the hard work of many people, things are not perfect, and we continue to be reflective in what we can do to improve what we are currently doing. We're also keeping ourselves prepared for any potential need to change to distance learning at the elementary level if need be, and to be ready to provide more in-person learning when the COVID surge subsides.

Much of this work is new and we're learning as we go. We receive feedback from stakeholders in many ways; email, phone calls, meetings and surveys. All of it can help focus our efforts on what is most needed and guide us in making changes to what we're doing.

We have created and will be sharing a series of surveys for families, students and teachers, to seek input on what's working well, what could be improved and to gather ideas we may not have considered. There's a survey for Families Birth to Grade 5 and for Families Grade 6 - 12. The Student Survey is for Grades 6 - 12. Knowing each student may have different needs, we're asking families to complete a survey for each student in school.

There is so much collective power in our hands to move forward with improvement on behalf of our students, staff, and families. When you receive the survey, please take a few minutes by November 23rd to respond so that we can hone our efforts on what matters most. We will share a summary of what we find out, as well as the steps we are taking to use this specific feedback to improve our supports.

Above all, please take care and be safe. As community spread increases, mask wearing, social distancing are more important than ever.


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

Employees: How to Report COVID

Find this information and more on the ISD 709 Staff COVID Web page

ISD 709 employees who:

  • are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19,
  • have tested positive for COVID-19 or
  • have been ordered to quarantine or isolate by the Minnesota Department of Health, another authorized agency, or their physician

must notify Crystal Diehl, Licensed School Nurse & COVID Coordinator.

They must do so by completing the COVID Reporting Form (preferred), or e-mailing reportcovid@isd709.org, or by calling (218) 336-8731.

  • Should principals, program managers, or other district staff be advised of a positive case, they are directed to report via the above methods and take no other action.
  • All staff must maintain confidentiality and refrain from discussing personal health information with others; the COVID Coodinator manages all communication and notifications to ensure compliance with HIPAA/FERPA data privacy laws.
Please see the COVID Reporting Tree for details on the communication process, following the MN Department of Health Guidance.
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From the MN Department of Education

Talking with Students About the Election

This moment presents us with a tremendous opportunity to teach our students how much they mean to us as well as teaching them about democracy and government. There will be challenging conversations that must be met with empathy and compassion. We must listen to each other and be respectful of each other’s perspectives and experiences.

Whatever may come next, we will teach about it. To do this, we have compiled resources that may be useful to share with your teachers, families and students:

Sources of Strength

From the ISD 709 Sources of Strength Team:

We recognize that the struggle is real. We understand that each community member is facing challenges. We also recognize that we all have strengths. We can leverage those strengths to support our mental health during this new reality.

The Sources of Strength model is composed of eight categories that we can draw strength from: Family Support, Positive Friends, Mentors, Healthy Activities, Generosity, Spirituality, Physical Health and Mental Health. For the next 8 weeks we will focus on one of these strengths and offer resources and activities for you and your family. We hope these resources will serve as tools for your family to calm, cope and connect. It is possible for us to not just survive, but to thrive during these challenging times.

Sources of Strength is an evidence based program focusing on prevention for suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse. They train, support and empower peer leaders and caring adults to impact school communities through the power of connection and messages of hope, help and strength.

Online: Sources of Strength

REMINDER: Families, Students - Please Log Attendance

Please Log Attendance Each Day During Digital Learning

Families, thank you for your support as we continue to build and improve digital learning in our school district. This is a challenging time and we appreciate your efforts.

Tracking attendance for digital learning each day is vitally important. In addition to helping schools know students are engaged, districts must regularly report accurate attendance numbers to the state education department.

During digital learning, we’re asking that students/families log attendance in Infinite Campus each day. This step will provide more accurate, up-to-date attendance records and help teachers have more time to provide educational support and interact with students.

  • Elementary students and families will log their attendance each day through Infinite Campus Parent Portal or Student Portal.
  • Middle & High School students will log their own attendance each day using Infinite Campus Student Portal.

If you don’t have an Infinite Campus account, please contact your school.

For instructions about how to log your child’s attendance, please check online at www.ISD709.org/DigitalLearning. You’ll find step by step instructions and video tutorials.

Beginning November 9, if a student’s attendance is not logged each day you will receive an absence notification phone call from the school as a reminder.

We appreciate your patience and flexibility while we navigate virtual learning and attendance taking. As always, feel free to contact your school with any questions.

Bag Lunch Pickup Changes Begin November 9

Beginning Monday November 9:

  • Lakewood Elementary bagged breakfast/lunch distribution will be via a school bus at the school from 11:40AM to 12:10PM.
  • The Lismore and McQuade Road stop moves to 12:21PM.

Check online for a complete schedule.

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.

Lester Park Students Learn with Bruce the Pumpkin (and the Spiderheads)

During this festive event Ms. Hill's kindergartners learned about Math, Reading, Voting and Science: "We used our five senses to describe what we see, hear, smell, feel and taste with a pumpkin. We heard the pumpkin being scraped as it was cleaned out, we felt the slimy “guts”, we saw the color and shapes of the pumpkin face, we smelled it, and we are going to taste the pumpkin seeds." What a fun way to learn!



Piedmont Students Share a Good Book

Piedmont Panthers shared their favorite books, virtually and in-person. These amazing scholars read books about the Edmond Fitzgerald and dinosaurs to Junie B. Jones and Amelia Bedelia. A great day to celebrate reading, school spirit and Positive School Attendance.

#Inspire709 #PantherProud #PantherStrong #AttendanceMatters


Laura MacArthur: All Treats, No Tricks

Fun photos from Laura MacArthur's Trunk or Treat event for students, families and friends.



Thank You, Neighborhood Youth Services

They organized a Trunk or Treat event with students and families from Myers-Wilkins Elementary taking part. Lots of smiles!

#Inspire709 #CommunitySupport


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