ISD 709 News 1/21/22

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear Families:

With blunt reality, I have to say that the past few weeks have been some of the most challenging times that I have seen in my 30 years in education. Despite the significant struggle, they have also been some of the most inspiring.

As the U.S. battles the biggest surge of the pandemic, our schools have been impacted. Staffing shortages and COVID rates have skyrocketed, making it difficult to maintain our school operations. Again and again, we have had to ask everyone, students, teachers, administrators and other staff to step up and pitch in in so many ways. And, again and again, people have risen to the occasion. It is a first-hand testament to the dedication and resilience of all involved, and I am moved by the collective strength of our schools and community.

I also believe that we will be able to weather this difficult time without a large-scale move to remote learning. I am also cautiously optimistic that, with rates declining in some parts of the country, we will soon be through the worst of this, and that we will be able to do so without a closure of any of our schools.

With that said, you will see within our update that we are sharing what remote learning would look like if and only if it were necessary to make such a transition for previously outlined safety reasons. Having a plan for what we would do in the event of a fire and practicing our drills does not mean that our schools are on fire; it means that we want to be prepared for worst case situations that we will do everything possible to avoid. It is the same in this case. Our students are better served in school and we will continue to do everything possible to support safe in-person learning.

We need your help! If there was ever a time during the pandemic that we needed to ask our families and community to again support us, that time is now. Please make sure that you are following the safety precautions that we know will make a difference. Staying home when sick, testing, reporting your results, mask wearing, getting vaccinations and boosters may sound like white noise after so many months, but these are truly the things that will make a difference for all of us. Thank you for your help with this.

Finally, if you or anyone you know is interested in helping us as a paraprofessional, substitute teacher or in another role, we would greatly appreciate that act of service to support our students, staff and families in this time of great need. Position information can be found on our website. If you need any help in walking through the requirements, please reach out to us and we will be glad to help!

It is an honor to work with such great students, staff and families, especially now.

With great sincerity and appreciation, we thank you!


John Magas

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


Local, State COVID Data

Detailed updates are available from the Minnesota Department of Health and St. Louis County Department of Health.

Minnesota Weekly COVID Report - Includes Cases in PreK through Grade 12 School Buildings by County

Minnesota Situation Update

St. Louis County MN COVID-19 Dashboard

Preparing In Case Temporary Remote Learning Is Necessary

Our public health officials agree that, at this time, students are safer in school than they are when schools are in distance learning for a variety of reasons. We will continue to remain in-person as long as we can safely do so.

At the same time, it's prudent for schools to make preparations and plans, should in-person learning no longer be safe and the need to move into temporary remote learning from home becomes necessary.

An overview of what temporary remote learning would look like is available online, and updates will be shared as necessary.

OVERVIEW: Preparing In Case Remote Learning From Home Is Necessary

Critical Staffing Notice

Families, please know that for a variety of reasons we have several nurses absent. We are relocating several nurses to help cover our nurse shortages.

  • In addition, if needed, we will ask qualified individuals to help distribute any prescription medication according to our procedures. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we want you to be aware so you can make the best decision for your children.
  • If you have a child who has tested positive for COVID-19, please fill out the student COVID reporting form instead of calling the health office. Someone from the district will contact you either by phone or email within 24-48 hours with information about isolating/quarantining and return dates.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Important: If a School Bus Route is Cancelled

School bus driver shortages and rising COVID rates make it possible this school year that there may be days where a school bus route must be cancelled at the last minute.

Cancelling a school bus route at the last minute is not a preferred strategy and we hope we never have to take this step. However, Duluth school district schools and staff are preparing for this possibility and to ensure families are prepared as well.

  • The need to cancel a school bus route for a day may be announced the night before or early in the morning (between 5AM to 6:15AM) much like a snow day.

  • The bus route will be referred to by School Name/AM or PM Service/a Route Number. In Infinite Campus Parent Portal you can check your child’s morning and afternoon route numbers.

  • Families impacted by the bus route cancellation will be notified:

    • Automated phone call from the school district

    • Email from the school district

    • Text from the school district (if the family is set up to receive texts)

  • Families impacted by the school bus route cancellation can either:

    • Provide transportation for their child in place of that route or

    • Keep their child home and, as long as they report the absence to the school, It will be considered excused.

  • Families, especially those with elementary age students, should have a contingency plan for their children in the event of a school bus route cancellation.

Please know that we are all doing our best to work through challenges specific to school bus transportation and greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we do so. We apologize for any inconvenience changes may cause.

The Duluth school district continues to actively recruit new bus drivers. We encourage anyone interested in becoming a school bus driver to apply at www.ISD709.org/Jobs.

Many Thanks To Our Community Partners

Recently, our school district extended the winter break to ensure student, staff and family COVID safety, as well as operational safety due to staffing constraints.

To meet the needs of students and families, we worked with community partners to provide food and mental health support, as well as child care, COVID booster clinics and testing.

The Duluth School Board and Duluth Public Schools recognize these organizations for their support throughout the year, and especially for their service to students and families during the extended winter break.

We are proud to lift up and honor the incredible work of our community partners. Thank you for your leadership and support of Duluth students, staff and families.



Exploring SRO Effectiveness Community Report Back

Duluth Public Schools and Marnita's Table invite you to join us for small group conversations facilitated by the Marnita's Table team to share your questions, comments and concerns after exploring the results of our series of community feedback sessions and surveys about School Resource Officers and safety in Duluth Schools.

Monday February 7, 2022, 5PM - 8PM
Spirit Of The North Theatre (Fitgers)
600 East Superior Street, Duluth
Please RSVP
Questions? Call 612-275-1678

Yes! The event is free and open to the public.
Yes! Good food will be provided for everyone from vegan to carnivore.
Yes! All ages are welcome.
Yes! We aim to create a safer space for all to provide an unbiased and complete picture of what everyone needs for a safe and welcoming school and work environment.
Yes! Translation and other access accommodations will be provided if you let us know ahead of time.

Lowell Elementary Language Immersion Info Night

Join us in a virtual meeting to learn about Misaabekong Ojibwe Immersion & Nueva Visión Spanish Immersion programs within Duluth Public Schools.

Thursday, January 27, 6-7 pm

Google Meet Link: https://meet.google.com/zjw-svsj-vnc

Enrollment now open!

More Online


COVID Test Kits For Students

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.

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.

In The News

Hunters & Hounds Take Top Spots at Mont du Lac

Success on the slopes for Duluth East and Denfeld Alpine Ski teams, congratulations!

Coverage in the Duluth News Tribune...

Read the Article

#GoHounds #HunterPride



Ordean East Middle School Climate Club Sets Eyes on Solar Energy

From the Duluth News Tribune Article:

During the past three years, a group of Ordean East Middle School students have been researching, learning and lobbying the Minnesota Legislature. Their passion is solar power.

Duluth News Tribune Article

Denfeld Debate Success

Congratulations to Senior Debater Vivian Shaffer, Denfeld HS, taking 3rd place in Lincoln Douglas Debate at Sections in Eagan, MN. She had a 5-1 record debating the resolution Resolved: The appropriation of outer space by private entities is unjust. Vivian earned a spot in the MSHSL State Debate Tournament.

#Inspire709 #GoHunters


Duluth Boys Swim Team Captures Section 7AA True Team Title

For the first time, the Duluth Boys Swim Team earned champion of the Section 7AA True Team event, in which every swimmer and diver score, congratulations!

This format highlights team depth. Junior Grant Wodny set a new meet record in the 100 Fly with a time of 51.39.

With a total of eight teams participating, there were 32 relay and individual entries in every event.

Highlights include:

1st, 4th and 8th in the 200 Medley Relay,

2nd, 6th, 8th in the 200 IM,

3rd, 4th, 5th in the 50 Free,

1st, 4th, 5th in the 100 Fly,

4th, 6th, 7th in the 100 Free,

6th in the 500 Free,

2nd, 5th, in the 200 Free Relay,

2nd, 5th in the 100 Back,

2nd, 3rd, 7th in the 100 Breaststroke,

1st, 5th, 8th in the 400 Free Relay

Ranked ninth in class AA, Duluth will now participate in the True Team State meet this weekend 1/22/22 along with 11 other teams. Thank you, Cliff Knettel, for the photo and info.


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

Follow Us For ISD 709 School News: