For ISD 709 Faculty & Staff 9/24/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Colleagues,

This week brought change as quickly as the leaves are turning colors.

Our elementary schools opened for hybrid in-person instruction for students. I was impressed with the deep planning principals, teachers and staff conducted to ensure young learners are safe and engaged.

We are hearing from families that their students’ learning experiences are improving as our teachers create rich and engaging content. In addition to this deep focus on academics, we continue to monitor safety of staff and students, along with COVID-19 rates for the county and Duluth area. Believing in continuous improvement, we know we still have many things to improve upon and we are deeply committed to ensuring that we do so.

As teachers and other staff members collaborate and focus on sharpening their skills through professional learning, they are stretching themselves to serve students in new and different ways. I recently overheard a staff member state, “people are really moving on to important, critical questions about the essentials of teaching and learning, whereas a week or two ago, the questions were all about how do I survive.” This is an exciting shift for all of us as a district and as a culture. Through these challenging times, there are many valuable lessons that improve our understanding of education. They’ll have both immediate payoff and help improve educational outcomes for decades to come.

This is a deeply challenging and yet inspiring time to be in education. I am proud of the work you are doing and honored to serve along with you.



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

ISD 709 Staff COVID Web Page

There's a web page for ISD 709 staff where COVID information is and will be posted. It's an effort to put links to all the information coming at us in one handy spot. Is there a link you'd like to see added? Let us know at Info@ISD709.org.


You'll find a link at the bottom of the district home page and each school home page under Staff Resources.

ISD 709 Family COVID Web Page

The Return to Learn web page for ISD 709 families is reformatted to include more COVID response information. It's an effort to provide information on one landing page. Is there a link you'd like to see added? Let us know at Info@ISD709.org.


Find a Return to Learn link at the top of the district home page and each school home page.

ISD 709 COVID Case Reporting for Schools

Based on guidance from the MN Department of Health. Briefly:

  • If an ISD 709 employee tests positive for COVID they're asked to report it to the District COVID Contact at reportcovid@isd709.org or 218-336-8731 & leave message.
  • The District COVID Contact is responsible for all notification and communication.
  • If principals, program managers, or other district staff are notified of a positive case first, they are directed to report to District COVID Contact and take no other action.
  • Staff must maintain confidentiality and not contact others. HIPAA/FERPA data privacy laws must be followed.

View the COVID Reporting Tree

View the MN Department of Health Guidance

First Day, Elementary In-Person

On Monday Duluth elementary schools welcomed students who are taking part in in-person learning two days a week. It's a pleasure to see children in our schools and also a great responsibility. Principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, facilities staff, cafeteria staff, 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, and thanks to all who are supporting digital learning for students during the pandemic.


ISD 709 Elementary In-Person

ISD 709 Digital Learning

Duluth News Tribune - Photo Essay

Star Tribune - Photo Essay




Materials Distribution

This week school staff worked to organize and safely distribute thousands of educational packages for students.

A heavy lift - sometimes literally!

Communication, focus, collaboration and an abundance of patience and kindness helped bring it all together, with student needs at the forefront.

Many thanks to teachers, paraprofessionals, media specialists, clerical staff, program staff, administrators, PTSAs, volunteers, student leaders and all who pitched in to make it happen.

Thank you, JP Rennquist, for the photos.


HOCHS School Closing Hearing

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday October 6, 2020 at 6:00PM to record public comment on the possible future closure of Historic Old Central High School. Public hearings are required as part of any schoolhouse closure process.

Members of the public may present their comments in person with accommodations made to follow social distancing guidelines. The hearing will be available for viewing on the Duluth School Board’s YouTube page. The district may also accept written comments, logistics to be determined.

In 2019, the District received a feasibility report outlining the significant investment needed to address deferred maintenance issues, totaling over $48.5 million. The District then embarked on a thorough planning process to bring options to the school board. A recommendation was made to list the property in order to ensure that a responsible reuse and redevelopment of the building would occur. From the beginning, it was a priority of the District to preserve the historic character of the building and the neighborhood.

As we near the end of this process it is important not only to share District information but also to hear from our community on thoughts related to Historic Old Central.

Public Notice Online

Deadline for Requesting Individual Elementary Student Model Switch: 12Noon 9/30/20

As the school year begins we're seeing families switching between distance learning and elementary in-person hybrid, in both directions. We appreciate families wishing to find the best model for their student.

We want to provide teachers and students in both models the best opportunity for stability and to build relationships as the school year begins.

Schools will accept requests for individual student model switches through Noon on September 30. After that date, changes will only be considered for emergency situations. Thank you for your understanding.

Teaching Protocols With Video

Several of our elementary schools used video to help share new COVID safety protocols with families and students, check it out! Many thanks to the staff who worked on these creative tools.

Congdon Park

Laura MacArthur


Expanding Free Meal Sites

Free Bagged Breakfast/Lunch Available to Duluth Children

NEW! Bus hubs added to distribution sites!

The Duluth School District added several bus hubs to free meal distribution sites beginning Wednesday September 23. The new sites help expand access to meals while students are in distance learning. The new bus hub sites are in addition to the school sites already distributing bagged meals.

Free bagged meals are available weekdays when school is in session to children 18 years of age and younger. Parents/guardians can pick up the bagged meal without students present.

Details, Locations, Times

KDAL Radio


Even though breakfast/lunches are free for families right now, it's still important that they complete a Free/Reduced Price Lunch Application.

It impacts many aspects of school funding in addition to providing family benefits. Failure to turn in a completed application will forfeit a child’s ability to have a free/reduced lunch, waiver of instrument rental fees, waiver of activity and athletic fees, etc.

Families who would like support completing this application, please contact the Child Nutrition office at 218-336-8789.

Fill out the form online OR Download an application, submit to school.

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.

Denfeld Hunter Sets New Pool Records

Lindsay Johnson set two pool records at a dual meet against Northeast Range/Ely in Babbitt. She won the 200 free with a time of 2:05.14 breaking the old record from 1998, and later the 100 free in a time of 56.87 by only 2 hundredths of a second to set the new records. The Hunters won the meet 46-31.



Lowell Community & Staff Support

Staff and their families, along with members from the Lowell Nature Play Committee worked on cleaning up their Nature Playscape, adding new sand to the sand pit, and cutting and creating all new outdoor classrooms throughout their School Forest. They have 40 spaces that can be used by classes throughout the day to play, learn, and enjoy fresh air.



Hounds Lend a Hand

Duluth East students have been getting up early all week to volunteer as crossing guards at Lester Park School! Love to see the big kids helping out and inspiring little ones.



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For information about Fall Into Reading, call 218-336-8711 or email olivia.kinsley@isd709.org!

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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 Fall 2020 Online Catalog

Register for Classes Online

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