ISD 709 News 1/14/22

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

We are again in the midst of a very challenging time. However, the experts we are consulting with forecast that our time of challenge will be relatively brief, with significant improvement by the first week in February.

Everyone in education, students, staff, and parents have been asked to do many things over the last 22 months that they never thought would be a part of their responsibility. It is amazing how people have responded with great flexibility and resilience. With all that you have done, it is difficult to again ask for more, but we are in a place where we must do so for the wellbeing of our students.

Our priority this year has been to provide in-person learning for all our students while in a safe, productive environment. Many days we have been impacted in achieving that goal due to things that are out of our control such as staffing shortages and safety concerns with the rapidly changing COVID rates.

We have continued to update our safe learning plan, are monitoring numbers closely, and are adding additional safety measures, like sending testing kits for all staff and students.

We have also put in place a rotation of district administration and staff to serve in a variety of roles within our schools. Difficult times have meant that we all must roll up our sleeves. I would not ask others to do what I am not willing to do myself. I have had the opportunity to serve as a substitute teacher, paraprofessional, and lunch monitor, as well as provide clerical support.

While I believe that we can continue to safely offer in-person, as the CDC recommends. It is vital to note that we do have a system and criteria for determining if the need to move to distance learning at a single school, an entire level (elementary schools, middle schools or high schools) or for the district as a whole. It is important that staff, students and families prepare for this possibility that none of us are hoping for. We would seek to give as much time to prepare as possible, but the need to shift may come with little notice.

How would we decide on a shift in our learning model? While the use of a single criteria for the potential transition to distance learning is discouraged, it is vital that we continue to monitor key variables to ensure our ability to provide safe learning environments and to be good community partners.

Key variables (to be considered as a whole) include:

  • Combined positivity rates for staff and students

  • Inability to meet crisis instructional staffing needs for an individual school, level (elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools) or district

  • Insufficient facilities and/or transportation staff for a entire school, level (elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools) or district

Staff, families and the community can help us keep students in school. We strongly encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated, including a booster shot, to wear a facemask, frequently wash your hands, and to take other efforts to reduce exposure.

This is a difficult time, but I have faith that we are doing our best to serve our students and families. I am also deeply grateful for the extra efforts of so many individuals.


John Magas

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


From Assistant Superintendent Anthony Bonds

Save the date and RSVP for our SRO Community Presentation with Marnita's Table.

When: February 7, 2022 from 5-8 pm

Where: Fitgers Complex (Spirit of the North Theater)

600 East Superior St

Duluth MN 55802

Big picture

Test Kits

Duluth Public Schools has received a supply of BinaxNOW OTC Antigen Self Test kits from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for students. They are rapid COVID-19 tests intended to be used at home by students who are symptomatic, and are to be administered by a caregiver. Each kit includes two separate tests. Test kits are available free to families, one kit per student enrolled. Please watch for communication from your student's school on the distribution of these test kits.

Duluth Mask Mandate

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has signed a declaration of emergency imposing a mask mandate in response to current COVID-19 case levels. The mandate will take effect at 5 pm Friday.


Duluth News Tribune

We Need Substitutes!

Make a difference by becoming a Duluth Public Schools substitute, our schools need you.

Licensed and non-licensed, a variety of areas.

Current Job Openings

Questions? Email: noncerthr@isd709.org or call (218) 336-8722

Duluth Public Schools is an equal opportunity employer.

Twin Ports 2022 MLK Day - January 17th



January 17, 2022

8:45 - 10:30 am

Featuring Laura Coates, Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., and Moderated by Angela Davis

A fundraiser to benefit the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Twin Cities in helping local students of color get to and go through college. Sponsored by UNCF and supported by General Mills.

Click here for more information

Register for the event

When you register, identify yourself as part of the : Duluth, MN Metro Area group

Dr. King’s Words into Actions: Black Empowerment Across the Generations.

January 17, 2022

11 am - 12 pm

Facebook Event Live Video (No Facebook account is required)If you have a Facebook account, you can say you are going to get reminders.

State 2022 MLK Day

From the MN Department of Human Rights:

Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan are excited to celebrate Dr. King with students across the state!

The celebration premieres at 11 am on January 17. Join the conversation on social using #MNMLK and we’ll have questions and activities for you.

Event Link

As the civil rights leader said in 1957, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

That’s why this year’s theme is Beloved Community in Action. Throughout the celebration, you’ll hear Minnesotans reflect on what Dr. King means to them and how they’re building a thriving society that embodies love and justice and works to end racism and poverty.

In The News

Congratulations to Denfeld Alum Laura Bellamy!

Honored by the American Hockey Coaches Association with the Assistant Women’s Coach Award for her work on the coaching staffs at Harvard and Minnesota Duluth.

Great article in the Duluth News Tribune...

Duluth News Tribune

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.

We got your learning, social and growth opportunities covered whether it is the arts or a new hobby, technology savvy, cooking or dancing, hot topics and community issues, health, wellness and exercise, sports and nature, new languages, music exploration, all types of yoga, aqua fitness, swim lessons, and much more! In-person, live online or webinars…

Register for classes online using VISA, MasterCard or Discover.

View the Winter 2022 Online Catalog

Register for Classes Online

Duluth Community Education:

Building Bridges Through Lifelong Learning

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