ISD 709 News 9/17/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Families,

Prior to starting this position I spent time talking with people, learning about our city and schools. When I asked, “What’s the best thing about Duluth Public Schools?” I heard the same answer - great teachers, staff and administrators. People spoke enthusiastically, voices lifting as they shared stories of connections, caring and the drive people have to help serve children.

After spending over two months here, I’m learning why people respond that way.

Some say that change is slow in education. Right now, for Duluth, that’s the farthest thing from the truth! Many of our teachers and staff have been back for just two weeks. In that brief time, we are completely overhauling the way that we teach and serve students. Teachers are quickly developing curriculum, reaching out to students and families, learning new technology and teaching skills. Facilities employees have created new structures to ensure safe and clean schools. Food service workers are providing nutritious meals to all who need them. Paraprofessionals are providing childcare for essential workers in addition to supporting students. Bus drivers are preparing to get students to school in a safe and distanced manner.

There is no perfect plan for returning to learn in a pandemic. I am well aware of the concerns and areas that still need to be worked on and improved.

As superintendent, the responsibility of educating our students well and keeping us safe falls squarely on my shoulders. We will continue to work to address the challenges that remain. Together. And, we will emerge from this stronger than ever.


John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: ReturnToLearn@ISD709.org

Digital Learning Days End Friday

The first nine days of school, called Digital Learning Days, have been busy and productive ones for schools, staff and families. Important work took place during this time; distributing devices, launching SeeSaw and Canvas, professional development for teachers, building relationships and helping students and families become familiar with a new way of learning. There were bumps in the road and there's still work to do - there are celebrations as well in terms of the good work done by our digital learning coordinator, principals, teachers and staff in ramping up online capabilities. This was and is a heavy lift - many thanks to all!

Elementary Hybrid In-Person Learning

Elementary in-person hybrid starts next week, school personnel have been busy preparing. Facilities staff have worked much of the summer cleaning, marking hallways and cafeterias for distancing, installing hand sanitizing stations and more. Now principals, teachers and staff are gearing up for the arrival of students!

There's a web page to help families understand in general what to expect when students are in school. Each elementary is sharing additional information with families, too, please check with your school if you have questions.

View the Web Page

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.

Academic Content Weeks Kickoff

This week Duluth middle and high schools worked hard to get students and families connected through Canvas and Infinite Campus. This work continues as they strive to access all students. Academic Content Weeks begin Thursday, September 17. One week of instruction and course work is released in Canvas by 9AM. Work is due back in Canvas the following Wednesday by noon.

Time with Teachers Online

While students aren't required to report to their online class at a certain time each day, it's important to spend time online with teachers and classes each week. Opportunities may include:

  • Re-teaching for extra support
  • Discussion opportunities
  • Working through problems together
  • Presentation opportunities
  • One to one help
  • Small group help
  • Review for tests and quizzes together
  • Open for drop in time for any who need to connect.

Back to School Safety

With in-person elementary hybrid starting next week school buses will be on the road and children will be walking or biking to school. Be ready to stop when you see buses out on the road and be alert for children who may be waiting on the side of the road or biking and walking to school.

MDH COVID-19 Attendance Guide for Parents & Families

Staying home when you are sick is one of our best ways to fight COVID-19. Keeping sick children and children who are exposed to COVID-19 away from others helps stop the spread of the virus to other children, staff, and the surrounding community. Parents and guardians can use this guide to understand when their child can attend school, youth programs, and child care during COVID-19.

MN Department of Health: COVID-19 Attendance Guide for Parents & Families

Families, Please Submit Free/Reduced Price Lunch Application

Even though breakfast/lunches are free for families right now, it's still important to complete a Free/Reduced Price Lunch Application (called Application for Educational Benefits).

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 price lunch when free meals end, 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.

Superintendent John Magas and Child Nutrition Supervisor Pam Bowe shared information with local TV stations about free meals and the importance of filling out the form.



Free bagged meals are available weekdays when school is in session to children 18 years of age and younger.

Digital Learning Resources for Families

For Families: Digital Learning Web Page, SeeSaw & Canvas

Helpful information and login links for the new digital learning platforms SeeSaw and Canvas can be found at www.ISD709.org/Digital-Learning. Information includes an introductory video to SeeSaw for families.

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

Generous Donation For Stowe Students

Many thanks to Cub Foods for their donation of 42 bags of school supplies for Stowe students. This will make a big difference to children and families this school year!

#Inspire709 #CommunitySupport


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Denfeld, Duluth East Super Soccer Teams

Denfeld goalkeeper Julia Schaefer made a remarkable save late in the second half against Duluth East in a high school junior varsity match at historic Public Schools Stadium. The Greyhounds scored with less than eight seconds remaining in regulation en route to a 1-0 victory.

#Inspire709 #GoHunters #GoHounds


Hunters Succeed

Denfeld senior midfielder Keegan Chastey played the ball with his right foot against Hibbing-Chisholm in a high school soccer match at historic Public Schools Stadium.

The Hunters won 9-0, powered by four first-half goals from senior Xavier Decker and a pair of goals by Chastey, to improve to 2-1 overall.



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Go Hounds!

Duluth East defeated Proctor 3-0 in a high school boys soccer match at beautiful Ordean Stadium.

Kai Hoffman, Beckett Sherman and Grady Downs had goals for the Greyhounds, who improved to 4-0 and still haven't allowed a goal-against all season.



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