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Duluth superintendent fall recommendation: elementary in person, secondary hybrid

Baihly Warfield
Updated: August 04, 2020 10:44 PM

A preliminary plan laid out for the Duluth School Board would have elementary-aged students (K-5) attend class in person and secondary students (6-12) go with a hybrid model this fall. 

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Superintendent John Magas gave that recommendation in a several hour virtual presentation Tuesday evening. The School Board will make the final decision. Magas said he'd like to see them vote during a special meeting on Thursday. 

"We're not voting tonight for a reason. We want feedback," School Board Member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp said. 

Thursday's meeting will be available to watch live on the district's YouTube channel.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health recommended guidelines, schools in St. Louis County can operate with all in-person learning. The county-wide COVID-19 case rate is low enough. However, Superintendent Magas said because Duluth is more of a metro area than the rest of the county, there are more factors to consider. 

Magas said secondary students engage better with the online platforms. 

"Younger children benefit best from in-person learning, so we want to place some emphasis on that for our students," he said. "And ... younger children are less likely to contract and spread the virus."

No matter the final model chosen, the district will offer distance learning as an option if parents choose.

Magas will also form a District Advisory Committee to help him make future decisions on model changes. He called the Return to Learn plan a "living document" that will change as COVID-19 case rates and other factors change too. 

In July, the district asked for feedback from families and staff through surveys. 

In the family survey, the district received more than 5,800 responses. About 63% said they intend to send students to school for in person or hybrid learning. Approximately 30% said they were undecided. 

In the staff survey, in general, they felt more comfortable with distance learning. 

The next steps the district laid out are as follows: 

  • Aug. 4-7: Engage the School Board and community
  • Aug. 6: Possible School Board vote
  • Aug. 10-24: Student registration
  • Aug. 24-28: Student and family specifics
  • Sept. 8-11: Return to Learn Week

Get updates on ISD 709's fall plans here.

You can read the Minnesota Department of Health recommended guidelines here.

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Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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