ISD 709 News 12/10/21
From Superintendent John Magas
As we prepare for an extended Winter Break, I’m once again grateful for the dedication of our community partners. As we added two days to the break, December 22 and January 3, to support safety, they saw a need and rallied to help provide additional child care, COVID testing and booster opportunities. I’ve witnessed this outpouring of care many times since starting with the district. Duluth is truly an incredible place to live and work.
The break will be an opportunity to ensure student, staff and family COVID safety, as well as operational safety due to staffing constraints. It may also be a time of respite, acknowledging the stress and challenges both families and staff are facing due to the pandemic, recognizing the efforts to go above and beyond in challenging times. This courage and resilience is an inspiration to me and another example of why I’m proud to be part of this community.
Thank you for your understanding and support. Thanks for all you do as we continue to navigate the challenges of this school year.
If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: ReturnToLearn@ISD709.org
2021-22 Winter Break Extended
During a special meeting held in the Denfeld Media Center, the Duluth School Board approved a resolution extending the 2021-22 Winter Break by two days (view the resolution).
The two districtwide closure days added are Wednesday December 22 and Monday January 3. There will be no school for students, and school and district offices will be closed.
The extension will address staff and student safety, including the impact of staffing shortages on district operations.
The Duluth school district is working with community partners to provide food and mental health support, as well as child care associated with the extension. The district is also partnering with Essentia Health to offer staff and student booster clinics prior to break as well as COVID testing for staff and students on January 3, 2022.
Free COVID Booster Clinics December 21
Duluth Public Schools and Essentia Health are providing COVID booster shot clinics at Denfeld and Duluth East High Schools prior to the Winter Break. The clinics are for students 16 years and older and all interested ISD 709 staff:
Tuesday, December 21 2:00PM - 4:30PM
- Denfeld High School Auditorium, 401 N. 44th Avenue West
- Duluth East High School Career Center, 301 N. 40th Avenue East
SIGN UP BY THURS 12/16 4:00PM!
Free COVID Testing January 3
Duluth Public Schools and Essential Health are providing COVID testing for ISD 709 staff and students at two community sites after the upcoming Winter Break. Essentia will provide a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. This is not a rapid test, and it can take up to two days to get test results.
We're working to set up testing for Monday January 3, 2021 at two locations, one on the west side of Duluth, one on the east side. Details will be shared as soon as they're finalized.
Free To ISD 709 Families: Childcare
December 22nd & January 3rd, 8:00AM - 4:00PM
Registration Required, Space is Limited: duluthymca.org/register
Bring your children to the Y where they will participate in fun activities while they're on Holiday break from school! Participant s should bring their own lunch and snacks, along with tennis shoes and a water bottle.
Questions? email@example.com or 218.722.4745 ext 522
COVID Vax For Ages 5 and Older
Free COVID Vaccinations Available for Ages 5 years and Older:
- Contact your pediatrician, health care provider, local pharmacy or family medicine clinic about appointments.
- Visit mn.gov/vaxforkids for COVID vaccines for children and teens.
- Use Minnesota’s Vaccine Locator Map to find a vaccine provider near you.
- Check for vaccine appointments using the CDC’s Vaccine Finder. You can search for appointments by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer) and find pharmacies offering pediatric vaccinations.
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline: 1-833-431-2053
- St. Louis County Vaccine Opportunities: stlouiscountymn.gov/vaccineregistration
The MN Dept of Health’s About COVID-19 Vaccine web page includes information on the vaccine and what to expect before, during and after vaccination.
The What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines document provides answers to many questions families may have.
From Assistant Superintendent Anthony Bonds
Last week, the Oxford High School community in the Oxford Township of Michigan was rocked by tragedy as the result of the senseless shooting of students and staff by a 15-year-old high school student. My heart and prayers go out to those students, staff, families, and the entire community.
As the proud father of two amazing daughters, I am tearing up at the thought of one of them being injured or traumatized by such an incident or the thought of me being on the receiving end of a call saying one of them has been injured or killed. Even though they are young adults now, when my girls hurt, I still hurt. It is the papa bear in me so I can only imagine the pain and hurt those families are going through.
Since the Columbine shooting in 1999 - coincidently the year I took a leadership position as a high school assistant principal - school districts have strived to prepare staff to respond to these kinds of emergencies. As I watched the classroom video footage from Oxford, it was impressive to see how the teacher and students responded when the gunman attempted to enter their classroom. It was clear to me that they instinctively knew what to do or they had practiced what to do during a lockdown.
ISD709 currently uses and provides staff with the active shooter training known as ALICE-. Last week, staff were encouraged to review the ALICE training again. Also, school principals have or will meet with their emergency planning team to determine how best to review safety protocols with staff and to practice with students. Click this link, if you would like to learn more about ALICE.
Lastly, please help us keep students and staff safe by properly securing weapons at home. Click this link for additional information: BeSmart Secure Storage.
Thank you for everything you do to create positive, supportive, and safe learning environments.
ACT, SAT, PSAT Test Prep
Attention, high school students taking the ACT, SAT or PSAT this coming year! The Duluth Public Library offers free ACT, SAT, PSAT and more test prep programs and free practice tests.
LearningExpress Library https://duluthlibrary.org/databases/
Blended Learning Initiative
Duluth Public Schools students are leveraging technology to facilitate their education in a blended learning environment. Blended learning enhances in-person learning by providing each student educational access to digital and online resources. In our school district, that access is provided through use of a district Chromebook, approved software and online services.
REMINDER - If A School Bus Route Is Cancelled
School bus driver shortages and rising COVID rates make it possible this school year that there may be days where a school bus route must be cancelled at the last minute.
Cancelling a school bus route at the last minute is not a preferred strategy and we hope we never have to take this step. However, Duluth school district schools and staff are preparing for this possibility and to ensure families are prepared as well.
The need to cancel a school bus route for a day may be announced the night before or early in the morning (between 5AM to 6:15AM) much like a snow day.
The bus route will be referred to by School Name/AM or PM Service/a Route Number. In Infinite Campus Parent Portal you can check your child’s morning and afternoon route numbers.
Families impacted by the bus route cancellation will be notified:
Automated phone call from the school district
Email from the school district
Text from the school district (if the family is set up to receive texts)
Families impacted by the school bus route cancellation can either:
Provide transportation for their child in place of that route or
Keep their child home and, as long as they report the absence to the school, It will be considered excused.
Families, especially those with elementary age students, should have a contingency plan for their children in the event of a school bus route cancellation.
Please know that we are all doing our best to work through challenges specific to school bus transportation and greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we do so. We apologize for any inconvenience changes may cause.
The Duluth school district continues to actively recruit new bus drivers and there are currently new drivers in training. We encourage anyone interested in becoming a school bus driver to apply at www.ISD709.org/Jobs.
Laura MacArthur Students Explore Navajo Frybread History
Navajo frybread originated 144 years ago, when the United States forced Native Americans living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the "Long Walk" and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn't easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans.
Laura MacArthur 4th grade students in Ms. Pelto's class (led by Mrs. Miller, Native American Advocate and assisted by Cal Harris) learned fry bread history while making and tasting frybread during Native American Heritage Month. One of several activities to learn about and honor Native American culture.
Denfeld Student Receives Music Scholarship
Congratulations to Laelia Sackett, recipient of a Bluebird Foundation music scholarship! Thank you to the Lundeen Family for supporting local music students! .
Lincoln Park MS Spelling Bee Success
Congratulations to Lincoln Park Middle School Spelling Bee participants, one of them could be the next @ScrippsBee winner!
Students at Stowe Elementary had outdoor fun making Smores. What a treat!
Piedmont Students Earn Books
Students in Mrs. Pernu's 1st Grade class were November attendance winners and all were able to pick out a book from the school book vending machine!