ISD 709 School News 4/30/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families,

Heading into May, it’s hard to believe that there are only six weeks left in the 2020-21 school year! Summer programs planning is well underway and will be used for credit recovery, supporting student learning needs and for enrichment.

We have been developing an Operational Plan for the 2021-22 school year. This plan is intended to provide a unified and focused approach to serving our students and families as we emerge from the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic. The plan will also set the stage for development of a longer-range continuous District Strategic Plan in the coming year. Many districts are taking this approach to ensure that we accelerate learning and close opportunity gaps that have been widened by the pandemic.

Having a few key, well-defined areas of focus is critical to success. As Patrick Lencioni once wrote, “If everything is important, then nothing is.”

The following areas have been identified as critical district-wide focus areas for all schools:

  • Student learning, including learning loss

  • Social emotional learning and mental health of students

  • Understanding and application of our equity framework

  • Blended learning initiative implementation - devices, access and training

Stakeholder input is important in the explicit strategies that we implement to reach our goals in these key areas. In the coming weeks, we will be soliciting this input from staff and families to help inform and fine-tune these efforts. Resources, including Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, will be aligned with these efforts. It’s important to consider that these are one-time funds as we determine their usage. Additional information will be shared soon.

As noted below, last week was National Administrative Professionals Day on April 21st, which was during break. We thank the people in these key positions for the superb support that they provide.

Finally, Teacher Appreciation Week is next week, May 3–7, with National Teacher Appreciation Day on May 4. It is always important to note how important our teachers are, especially this past year. Educators have worked extremely hard, moving their teaching online, to a hybrid format, and into in-person learning, all the while continuing to support our students. We are deeply grateful!

With deep respect and appreciation,

John Magas

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


April School Board Recognition

Chales Mims, Denfeld High School, was honored by the Duluth School Board this month, she is one of 50 student authors chosen for the next book published on behalf of the Freedom Writers Foundation. The book will be called Dear Freedom Writers and will include stories from students all over the world. Chales will work with nationally renowned teacher Erin Gruwell and the original Freedom Writers over the next year. In addition, Chales receives a new computer, a new web/video cam and will fly to Washington, DC for a Freedom Writers event in April 2022. Chales was honored by the Denfeld school community earlier this month for this fantastic accomplishment. We look forward to joining millions of people who will read Chales’s story in Dear Freedom Writers next year.

Congratulations, Chales, and thank you for your inspiration!

Photo: Duluth News Tribune


Thank You, Duluth Administrative Professionals

Throughout it all, the people in these key positions keep offices and schools organized and work to meet the needs of our families and students. A tough job at any time but especially during the fast-paced, often chaotic and ever-changing transitions experienced during the pandemic. What we do is only possible with their help and expertise, many thanks.



Thank You, Duluth After School Professionals

Many thanks to all who work with Duluth youth during out of school hours. It's a joint effort that includes community partners, afterschool programs, youth and child care workers, families and individuals.


Student COVID Reporting Form

Families, please use the Student COVID Reporting Form for sharing the following COVID information with your school:

  • Student tested positive for COVID-19 (lab confirmed case)
  • Student experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and awaiting test results
  • Student experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but has not been tested
  • Student's been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Student's household member experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19
Student COVID Reporting Form

COVID Vaccines: 16- & 17-year-olds

The Minnesota Department of Health has created a resource with information about COVID-19 vaccines for 16- and 17-year-olds.

At this time, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been studied and authorized for use by 16 and 17 year olds. Data from Pfizer vaccine studies show the vaccine is safe and effective for this age group. Other vaccine manufacturers are also studying their vaccines in younger age groups but have not yet received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

COVID-19 Vaccine Quarantine Guidance

If a person (including students) has completed COVID-19 vaccination (two doses in a two-dose series or one dose in a one dose series) and are identified as a close contact, they do not need to quarantine if all of the following are true:

  • The COVID-19 exposure was at least 14 days after their vaccination series was fully completed.

  • The COVID-19 exposure was within 90 days of their final dose of the vaccination series.

  • They do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19

If COVID-19 like symptoms develop, the individual (including students) should stay home, be tested for COVID-19, and quarantine until test results are received per the MDH decision tree. Families should send updated vaccination records to their school health office with vaccine administration dates.

For more on quarantine guidance, please review the Minnesota Department of Health’s Quarantine Guidance for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Testing for Kids and Families

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends children and families get tested every two weeks, through the end of the school year.

  • Testing has never been easier – you can visit a community testing site, order an at-home test kit, or get tested through your health care provider. All options are quick and free to you.
  • You can sign your entire family up to get tested at the same time at a community testing site. If someone in your family prefers to speak in another language besides English, in-person or language line assistance is available. Test sites are doing everything they can to make sure sites are clean, safe, and comfortable for everyone.
  • Teachers, school staff, and coaches are already getting tested regularly. We owe it to them to do the same. By wearing a mask and getting tested regularly, we can help limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our schools and sports open.

Visit Getting Tested for COVID-19 or contact your health care provider to schedule an appointment.

HOCHS Project Updates

Updates related to the HOCHS project are posted at www.ISD709.org/Property.

Tours for temporary swing space have occurred at multiple locations for the relocation of the District Services Center during construction. Viable options have been narrowed down and additional tours will occur.

Multiple tours for lease space have occurred with the Alternative Learning Center & Academic Excellence Online team. Further tours will be taking place in the coming weeks with further refined property specifications.

The design is in full swing on the District Services Center, Transportation Building, and Facilities remodel. The design team has been meeting every week, pushing forward with floor plans and details. Mechanical and Electrical design now has established floor plans to begin making strides on their scope.

Development of required documentation for submission to the Minnesota Department

of Education (MDE) for review and comment.

Duluth Preschool Registration Open for Fall 21-22

Duluth Preschool focuses on building social emotional skills, language and literacy, health and nutrition, physical and development for all children.

Apply For Fall 21-22

Call 218-336-8815


Email: earlychildhood@ISD709.org

Preschool programs are located in 7 elementary schools across the city, providing high quality early childhood classroom experiences.

Parent Aware Rated - Four Stars of Excellence: One of the first preschool programs in the state to earn a four-star Parent Aware rating - the highest possible! This system helps families find programs focused on high quality early learning and kindergarten readiness.

Myers-Wilkins and CSS - Good Chemistry!

Third, fourth, and fifth graders at Myers-Wilkins Elementary received an online lesson about acids and bases from College of St. Scholastica students.
CSS provided three more experiments including gummy bears and lava lamps to conduct at home. CSS also provided gear for the students and TKDA Engineering and Architects funded the materials. Many thanks to Dr. Melanie Talaga and her CSS chemistry students for this engaging opportunity.



Piedmont "Scooter City"

Students from Piedmont Elementary took part in Scooter City, an imaginative movement activity with pathways and roads leading to a dozen destinations, including a park, zoo, library, gas station, fishing pond, car wash, and more. Many thanks to Mrs. McCormick, PE teacher, for making this happen and to Mrs. Stariha who assisted between each class to sanitize and clean the area.

#Inspire709 #PantherPride


Ordean East Middle School Theater Presents:

Influencer Nation: A Stay-At-Home Play

Streaming Online for 24 Hours beginning May 6, 7PM

What happens when uptight public-television hosts are forced to interview the internet's most ridiculous influencers? It’s Influencer Nation: a hilarious journey through the outrageous corners of online culture featuring internet stars who've made their mark in everything from terrible song parodies, to perplexing makeup tutorials, to unhinged conspiracy theories about popular cookies.

Use This Link to View the Play Beginning May 6, 7PM

Duluth East Theater Presents:


May 6 - 8, 2021 7:00PM

Duluth East Auditorium

301 N. 40th Avenue East, Duluth

$8 Students, $13 Adults

Tickets can be purchased at the door with exact change or in advance through the ticketing website.

Purchase Tickets Online

Photo Op:

Denfeld, Duluth East Spring Sports

Denfeld Girls Softball photos from Dick Swanson Fields, Duluth Wolfpack Girls Lacrosse Team, Denfeld & Duluth East Golf.




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