New learning model proposed for Duluth secondary students

Ryan Juntti
Updated: February 24, 2021 05:31 PM
Created: February 23, 2021 09:36 PM

Changes could soon be coming to the learning model for Duluth middle and high school students.

On Tuesday night during the Duluth School Board meeting, the district proposed an update that could include more time in person.

The plan would allow for secondary students to be in the classroom four days a week beginning March 29.

“The updated 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,” Duluth Public Schools Superintentent John Magas said in a news release.

The district's current plan allows for in-person opportunities twice a week in the morning, three classes a day.

Magas says the district is planning for in-person instruction to start on March 29 as long as there isn't a significant spike in COVID-19 cases that changes community spread, and there isn't a change in state guidance that advises against in-person learning.

Magas points out how these factors would change the learning model plans in any community, not just Duluth.

"We are moving forward with the four-day plan on March 29," Magas told WDIO News.

Magas says the four days in the classroom would likely resemble close to a full day.

He says he has received a lot of questions about why they are proposing a four-day model versus a five-day model. He explained why that is.

"The actual governor's order talks about the insistence that we offer distance learning, and we need to make sure that that distance learning is supported, and so making sure we have that distance learning supported on that fourth day, and that we have the time for our teachers that is required to do that. We need that fourth day for that support to make sure that we have equity for our distance learning students, and so that the teachers have the support to deliver what they need to as well," said Magas. 

During the board meeting on Tuesday night, over a dozen parents expressed their concerns with the current learning model.

WDIO News spoke Tuesday afternoon with Dave Chura, who is one of the administrators of the Facebook group "Kids FIRST! 709", which has about 1200 followers.

Before the new proposal, Chura and others said they didn't understand why the Duluth School District couldn't adopt the same learning model as other neighboring districts.

"I think a lot of the frustration is when you look around at neighboring districts, what people want is an education for their kids that is on par with other neighboring districts and what's being done statewide as well," said Chura.

Even with the new proposal, distance learning would still be offered to all families who select that option.  

Magas said the transition will take place in steps, bringing students into schools in stages.

Here is the current plan

  • Continuing with transitional days the week of March 1
  • Continue with the hybrid roll in of 6th, 9th and 12th grades the week of March 8
  • Continue with adding grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 the week of March 15
  • Continue secondary hybrid the week of March 22
  • Begin four days per week of in-person instruction on March 29 (Quarter 4)

Initial planning is posted here, with more detail to be shared as planning continues.


Ryan Juntti

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