Northland Schools Prepare for School Year

State officials from the Minnesota Department of Education and the Department of Health met recently with superintendent John Magas and the Duluth Public School’s COVID-19 response team, specifically about elementary school students and their return to the classroom.

NORTHLAND –  State officials from the Minnesota Department of Education and the Department of Health met recently with superintendent John Magas and the Duluth Public School’s COVID-19 response team, specifically about elementary school students and their return to the classroom.

“There was an encouragement that we return to in-person learning because the challenges of making sure our students are well-served and learning as much as possible and so there was that urgency in getting back and getting to serve our students face to face and we’re really excited about that,” said John Magas, the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools.

The plan, for now, is for Duluth elementary students to return to in-person classes on January 25th while secondary students will remain in distance learning as they are required to do so per the infection rates for the county. The district is still planning for what the return will look like for secondary students and hope to go back to in-person classes as soon as possible.

To help get students back to the classrooms, state health leaders are requiring onsite COVID testing at schools when they return to in-person or hybrid learning. Hermantown Superintendent Wayne Whitwam says his school is ready for changes like that.

“Logistics are gonna be a bit tricky on that. If we have a lot of staff that want to test,” said Whitwam. “They could be waiting in line for a while so I mean, that’s the downfall of it. But it will be available.”

The governor also announced that educators will be receiving vaccinations. Magas says he is excited about the prospects of having the vaccine available for his staff.

“We don’t have the specific exactly when they’ll be distributed or what that will look like but I think just the news that we will be included and that planning will continue to take place, it’s really exciting for us,” said Magas.

Whitwam is also hoping that the vaccinations will provide more opportunities for his staff to help out at the schools themselves.

“I don’t think it’s something that I would ever mandate,” said Whitwam. “I think that would be a choice for teachers. I think it’s great because seriously, in order to keep our school running, if we have staff, we can keep going.”

Hermantown schools will be having its regional health meeting with state officials this Friday. Whitwam says he hopes to be back to hybrid for some students by mid-January.

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