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3 key factors: Duluth Public Schools’ new guidelines for keeping in-person learning

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 11:10 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - The staffing shortage within Duluth Public Schools is so dire, even the Superintendent is taking on additional duties.

“I’ve served as a substitute teacher, a paraprofessional, served in a clerical role, and done lunchroom supervision,” said John Magas, Duluth Public Schools Superintendent.

And it’s not just him, the Assistant Superintendent has also been back in the classroom.

“Not only did I read to students and help students with math, but I also had a chance to support kiddos who just needed to walk the halls,” said Anthony Bonds, Duluth Public Schools Assistant Superintendent.

As students in Duluth head back to class for a new semester, the city’s school district is struggling to find workers.

There was already a staffing shortage, and now many staff members are calling out sick.

“I would say that the past few weeks have been one of the greatest periods of challenge we’ve faced here in education,” said Superintendent Magas.

They’re worried the staffing shortage could lead them back to distance learning.

The district released new guidelines Friday that will help them decide whether to stay in person or go virtual.

They’re looking at 3 key factors, the COVID positivity rates among students and staff, their ability to meet staffing needs for each building, and whether there’s enough facilities and transportation staff on hand.

“Rather than it being one criteria, there are multiple variables, kind of like a dashboard that we need to look at,” said Superintendent Magas.

And though moving to distance learning may be a possibility, for Assistant Superintendent Bonds, it’s not preferred.

“Keeping kids in school is the best thing we can do,” said Bonds.

Superintendent Magas agreed but remains cautious.

“We’re going to do everything possible we can to stay open, but we also know, a need to move to distance learning might come very quickly,” said Superintendent Magas.

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