ISD 709 News 2/26/21

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families,

Often life presents both the positive and the negative. My update for this week contains some of each.

This week, according to St. Louis County, the majority of ISD 709 employees who have registered to receive a COVID vaccination have been notified of their opportunity to schedule an appointment. This is good news as we continue to provide full in-person learning for Pre-K students and prepare to bring middle and high school students back to our buildings for more in-person learning.

The combination of continuing to follow COVID safety protocols and the increasing availability of vaccines is clearly powerful. Local COVID numbers continue to drop, 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.

On a different note, as I write this message, our community is responding to an act of violence that resulted in the death of Duluth Police Department K-9 Luna. Our thoughts are with the DPD and those who worked closely with Luna.

When notified of the standoff and police response related to this incident, the schools closest to this neighborhood, Lincoln Park Middle School and Piedmont Elementary, took precautionary measures. Doors remained secured and were monitored and at Piedmont students were kept inside for recess.

As the news media and people talk about this incident, children may have questions. Here is a resource for families and teachers that may be helpful: Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents & Teachers

We’re grateful for the support and partnership of the Duluth Police Department and to our staff for their steady response as we work together to keep our schools and communities safe.


John Magas

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


Update: Secondary In-Person Learning

Updated state guidelines and declining COVID rates have opened up the ability to bring our middle and high school students back for more in-person instruction than indicated in our preliminary hybrid plans. We are working with principals, teacher leaders and staff to increase to four days per week of in-person secondary instruction beginning March 29. Families who choose to do so may remain in distance learning.

Update: Note the hybrid schedule beginning March 8 has been adjusted to Mon, Tues, Thursday, Friday.

  • Wk of March 1: Continue with Transition Days (Tues, Wed, Thurs). Students will receive a lighter digital learning module and have access to teachers Monday and Friday.
  • Wk of March 8: Continue with hybrid roll in of grades 6, 9 and 12 grades
  • Wk of March 15: Continue with adding grades 7, 8, 10 and 11
  • Wk of March 22: Continue secondary hybrid
  • Wk of March 29 (Quarter 4): Begin four days per week of in-person instruction
  • Continue to offer distance learning to all families who select this option

We've created a web page with more detail regarding what to expect, and updates will be shared as planning continues. Please also look for more specific information coming directly from your school. We understand how challenging it can be when plans change within a short period of time, but we are excited about the possibilities that this brings. We appreciate the continued patience and support of our families, staff and community.

Thank You Duluth School Bus Drivers

Governor Tim Walz proclaimed February 21-27, 2021, as School Bus Driver Appreciation Week! "Minnesota school bus drivers are going above and beyond their typical duties to serve students and communities during this unprecedented school year. They've taken on new essential roles such as delivering meals and distance learning supplies to families, implementing new and rigorous health and safety protocols and boosting community morale during challenging times. Many thanks to our school bus drivers for the invaluable contributions they make to public education and student safety."

#Inspire709 #ThankABusDriver

Governor's Proclamation

MN COVID Vaccine Connector

Last week, the State of Minnesota announced the launch of the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, a tool that helps Minnesotans find out when, where and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Black History Month - Marjorie Wilkins

Myers-Wilkins Elementary is named for community leaders Ruth Myers and Marjorie Wilkins. Working together and as individuals, their contributions did much to enhance the quality of educational programs and schools in Duluth. We honor their memory and are grateful for their leadership.

From the City of Duluth:

"Marjorie Wilkins was an African-American community activist. Marjorie was one of a small number of African-Americans born in Duluth just after the 1920 triple lynching of three black circus workers. She was denied entry into Nursing school and persevered to become the first African American woman to graduate from St. Mary's School of Nursing. Later, she became the first African American anesthetist at St. Luke's Hospital.

Every day Marjorie and Ruth (Myers) faced discrimination because of their race and gender, and they both worked tirelessly to break down the racial and economic barriers that often thwart dreams and break lives. Both lived the value that we rise or fall as a whole community.

*Picture of Marjorie Wilkins at University of Minnesota Duluth at the inauguration of the George Bonga room. Photo courtesy of UMD

Mobile Food Market Begins Feb 27

Beginning February 27, 2021, Community Action Duluth will offer a Mobile Market to address food insecurity in Duluth. A refrigerated truck will come to three locations throughout each month, with a fourth location to be determined.

Pending approval, EBT will also be accepted. The truck will be stocked with fresh produce, as well as staples such as grains, dairy, canned goods, and other items.

  • There will be an online storefront pre-ordering service through the Community Action Duluth website.
  • Those without internet access can order over the phone at (218) 726-1665.
  • The online store will feature available food items, and selections will be packaged for and purchased at pick-up.

For more information contact Evan Flom: mobilemarket@communityactionduluth.org.

Pandemic Benefits for Families

DEADLINE FEB 28! Family Pandemic Food Support P-EBT

Information from the State of Minnesota:

Students who qualify for free/reduced price lunch may be eligible for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) to purchase food for days they are not in the school building.

To receive benefits, your child must be enrolled in SNAP, the Minnesota Family Investment Program, or approved for free or reduced-price school meals.

IMPORTANT STEPS to complete by February 28, 2021:

  • If your household has not yet applied for Free/Reduced meals for this school year, it is very important that you apply before February 28, 2021 in order to qualify for additional benefits.
  • Households must have a current mailing address on file with the school in order to receive the P-EBT card in the mail.


Sources of Wellness: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. We are so appreciative of Duluth East parent Ryan Leege for providing our activities and collaboration. If you have ideas about topics to include please email jacob.laurent@isd709.org

Conversation Starters:

  • What situations make you feel the most relaxed? The most stressed?

  • How does your body react to different emotions?


Mindfulness meditation is placing your attention on your breath, with an open and unbiased awareness of whatever arises. That’s it!

There are 3 steps to the process, click here for detailed information regarding each step.

  1. Take your seat

  2. Place your attention on your breath

  3. Label thoughts as “thinking”

A good place to start could be meditating for 5 minutes at a time on a regular basis. A daily practice of even 20 minutes a day can significantly shift the quality of your life.


Mindfulness for Kids

The Power of Mindfulness

Mindfulness Listening Activity

HS Registration March 2-23

Denfeld and Duluth East provide a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities for students grades 9 - 12. Families new to Duluth Public Schools can enroll online any time! Check out the 21-22 Course Catalog, get ready to register March 2 - 23.


MS Registration March 1-21

Lincoln Park and Ordean East provide a rich learning experience for students grades 6 - 8. Highly skilled teachers, a wide range of engaging course work plus many educational and extracurricular opportunities. Families new to Duluth Public Schools can enroll online any time! Check out the 21-22 Course Catalog, get ready to register March 1 - 21.


2021 Kindergarten Registration

Are You Getting Ready to Send Your Child to September 2021 Kindergarten?

Enroll Online Today!

ISD 709 Elementary Schools provide a rich learning experience for students grades K-5.

  • Highly skilled, caring teachers
  • Fun, engaging, creative learning activities
  • Music, Art, Physical Education, Media
  • Reading, Math, Social Studies, Science
  • Emphasis on Family Partnership
  • Community partnerships for learning

#Inspire709 #BrightFuture

HOCHS Sale Public Hearing March 2

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday March 2, 2021 at 6:00PM to record public comment on the future closure of Historic Old Central High School. Public hearings are required as part of any schoolhouse closure process.

Please review the detailed information and protocols carefully.

  • To attend the hearing and provide comments in person you must arrive at Historic Old Central High School, 215 N. 1st Avenue East using the 3rd Street entrance and sign up to speak at the table by the entrance to the 2nd floor gymnasium by 6:00PM on March 2, 2021.
  • Written statements may also be submitted by mail or email and are due by Noon on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
Stowe Elementary Students Support Healthy Hearts

Students participated in the American Heart Association's Kids' Heart Challenge. They took on healthy challenges to move more, choose water, and be kind. The school raised $2,104.20 for the American Heart Association.

Thank you, Linda Puglisi, for the photo and information.



Ordean East Robotics Team Going Strong

The Ordean East Devildogs continue to grow skills and work creatively as a team, honing CAD, 3D printing, wiring, programming and video editing skills. The team participated in a January 2021 tournament and were nominated for the Control Award!

The team will compete in a second tournament on March 6. The team plans on Live Streaming all of their 6 matches to the general public (tentatively starting at 6pm on March 4) at www.devildogs11206.com.

The Devildogs are a middle school FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, part of FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The team learns how to design, build, program a robot and document, fundraise, and develop marketing strategies.

Thank you, Tim Churchill and Patrick Mulcahy, for the photos and information.



Lowell Elementary Art Students Create Dragons

In their art class, Senora Stuecher’s students made Chinese Dragons. Liang-Pi Yang, Integration Specialist at Lowell, created and shared this presentation about the Chinese New Year for everyone: Google Slides Presentation: 2021 Chinese New Year

#Inspire709 #LowellLions


Denfeld, Duluth East Dance

The Denfeld Shoreliners team hosted the Up North Dance Invitational this week in the historic Denfeld Gymnasium. The Duluth East Steppers and Hermantown-Proctor dance teams also participated.




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