ISD 709 News 3/11/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families,

What a week of change! I could probably start every update with that phrase, but this week had more than usual, including what seems like three seasons - spring, winter, and now back to spring again. Waking up at 3:45am on Thursday to work with our transportation manager Steve Johnson and other area superintendents to call the first snow day of the year was also a new experience.

More importantly, we saw the return of secondary students to our school buildings in a hybrid model. It was heartening to see young people waiting at a bus stop on Monday and I couldn’t resist asking them if they were excited about going back. Visiting the schools this week, I saw so many staff members waiting to greet students warmly, with smiles shining too brightly to be hidden by masks. Safety protocols were well in place and the students well behaved as they made their way to their classes.

Reflecting on these experiences, I'm again filled with gratitude for the incredible work that staff, students, and families put into making our synchronous hybrid model work, and as we prepare to transition over the next few weeks to in-person instruction. I'm also impressed by the deep focus on ensuring that our distance learners will be equitably served with high-quality instruction.

Before I came to Duluth, people told me that the community had huge heart for the schools, great collective strength, and a drive to get things done. This week yet again proves those people right.

With deep respect and appreciation,

John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email:


Reminder: Gr. 6-12 Families, 2nd Learning Model Selection Form Due March 15

ATTENTION REQUIRED: All Grade 6 - 12 families, if you haven't already done so, please complete 2nd Learning Model Selection Form by Monday, March 15.

Many thanks to all families who completed the 1st Learning Model Selection form as we begin transitioning Grades 6 - 12 to hybrid learning March 8 - 26.
We’re now asking all families Grades 6 - 12 to complete a 2nd Learning Model Selection form as we continue to plan for and work toward a 4-day in-person schedule beginning the week of March 29. Depending on how many students ultimately select this model, or if state guidance changes, it is possible that some adjustments may be needed. We’re excited to be able to provide more in-person opportunities for our students and appreciate the patience of staff and families as we work toward that goal.
Please complete one learning model selection form for each of the Grade 6 - 12 students in your household by Monday, March 15. Your timely learning model selection is critical for thoughtful planning and preparation.

Start The Form
Thank you for your patience and partnership as we expand our options for 6th-12th grade students.


This week Denfeld, Duluth East, Lincoln Park and Ordean East middle and high schools welcome grades 6, 9 and 12 who are taking part in hybrid learning. Grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 will begin next week.

It's a pleasure to see students in our school buildings again after nearly a year away. Principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, facilities, clerical, cafeteria, transportation staff, district leaders and many others have been working hard to prepare for this day, as have families. Many thanks to all as we move forward.


Secondary Hybrid, In-Person Web

Duluth News Tribune





Thank You, Duluth School Social Workers

It's School Social Work Week! As Governor Tim Walz proclaims, “school social workers contribute to a productive educational environment, actively working toward improvement of our schools and youth.” Thank you to all of our Duluth school social workers for your exceptional work!

#Inspire709 #ThankASocialWorker

Advocating for Public Education

Representatives from Duluth Public Schools took part in Duluth & St. Louis County at the Capitol Days, advocating for public education. Events took place virtually and provided an excellent opportunity for area leaders to advocate for the interests of northeast Minnesota.

Duluth News Tribune Editorial Board: Superintendent John Magas talked with the DNT Editorial Board about the importance of state-level changes to special education funding.

Duluth Public Schools 2021 Legislative Priorities

Update: HOCHS Project

Information regarding the HOCHS project is being posted at www.ISD709.org/Property.

The page includes:

  • A detailed background of steps taken to present
  • Presentations regarding the project
  • Monthly updates
  • The page will be used to share details as steps are taken to move out of Historic Old Central and as relocation plans are developed and finalized.

Planning teams have been meeting to address relocation steps that include:

• Construction of a new District Services Center on the Central Hill Site

• Renovations of the existing Facilities Building

• Construction of a new Facility for District Transportation

• Associated off-site improvements and roadways

• Site development and demolition of exiting facilities

In addition, in order to meet the needs of our Alternative Learning Center (ALC) and Adult Basic Education (ABE), the district will be obtaining leased space for these programs.

Sources of Wellness: Sleep

Sleep is the time our body and mind can recharge, repair, and refuel. The stats below may surprise you, but you are not alone. Regular sleep deprivation can lead to severe behaviors, physical and mental health concerns, and lower school performance. We are so appreciative to Essentia's Library Services for providing our information and links.

We will continue to share conversation starters, activities and relevant links bi-weekly. If you have ideas about topics to include please email Jacob Laurent at jacob.laurent@isd709.org

Sleep Guidelines

Copyright: AASM

Healthy Sleep Habits

These tips are provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Make sufficient sleep a family priority - model healthy behavior

  • Keep to a regular daily routine

  • Be active during the day

  • Monitor screen time

  • Limit eating or drinking the hours before bedtime, water is ok

  • Talk to a pediatrician or child care provider if concerns occur


Structure Your Child's Nighttime Routine

Sleep Tips for your Families Mental Health

Sleep Recharges - Healthy Sleep Duration for Teens

Family Media Use Plan

Big picture

COVID: State School Case List

This week Lowell Elementary is listed on the state's "Cases in PreK through Grade 12 Schools" list. This means the school has reported 5 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period.

  • Per the state's website, parents can continue to send their children to school even if the school is listed.
  • The district's Lead School Nurse and Assistant Superintendent have conducted a walkthrough of Lowell and provided recommendations to school leaders on strategies to increase monitoring and mitigation efforts.
  • School buildings that have not reported a new case for 28 days will be removed.

Check the MN Department of Health Website Q&A for more detailed information.

By wearing a mask, social distancing and getting tested regularly, we can help limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our schools and school activities open.

The combination of continuing to follow COVID safety protocols and the increasing availability of vaccines is helping schools, athletics and activities, hospitals, nursing homes, area businesses - everyone. It’s amazing to see what can be done when our community works together.

We're Hiring!

Clerical, paraprofessional, transportation, substitutes - check online for details and other job opportunities!


In The News

Duluth News Tribune: Denfeld High School downhill skier Margaret Duncan, great article!

#Inspire709 #HunterPride


Thank You, True North Americorps Members

Happy National Americorps Week and many thanks to the True North Americorps staff who support our schools.

True North Americorps is a program of the Duluth Family YMCA, placing members at schools, nonprofit agencies, government programs, and community centers in greater Minnesota.

True North Americorps

#Inspire709 #CommunitySupport

Exploring Outdoors

Misaabekong students went on a field trip to hunt for different shapes while learning about geometry. What an amazing day!

Ingii-izhaamin gichigaming noongom!

Ingii-waabandaamin ezhikodeg mikwam, biiwizigwading gaye.

Ingii-waabamaanaan migizi!

(We went to Lake Superior today! We looked at ice shapes, and the frozen ice shards. We saw a bald eagle!)




State Bound Hounds

Duluth East Nordic Ski Boys & Girls Teams are Region 7AA champions, both teams advance to the state meet this week at Giants Ridge.

In the girls' race, Duluth East skiers included junior Lily Brown in 2nd place, 10th grader Jenna Johnson in 4th; 8th grader Anna Britta Helmer in 8th, and 9th graders Rowan Bixler (9), Thea Kramer(12) Lucia Haggenmiler (15), and Leah Coleman (17). Duluth East boys finishers include juniors Ian Morse (4th) and Torstein Derauf (6th), sophomore Simon Long (9th), 9th graders Carl Morse (12th) and Paavo Rova (15th), and Colin Willemsen (21st).

Thank you, Erik Riker-Coleman and Renee Willemsen for the photos and info.



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