Superintendent John Magas presented the Duluth School Board with the district's Safe Learning Plan for this fall during their regular meeting Tuesday. This plan calls for a return to in-person, five-day school weeks and answers questions about COVID-19 safety protocol.

"I want to make sure that people know that this plan is subject to change," Magas said. "A lot of school districts are in this state of preparation where we don't want to make a call too soon. While at the same time we want to make sure we get our plans out to parents as soon as possible. So we're attempting to make sure we're as clear as possible with all our intentions."

Current plans include the five-day, in-person learning for all grades. The district also plans to continue to follow COVID-19 cleaning protocols, including providing hand-washing and sanitizing stations in all schools.

As for masking, the students are still required to wear face masks while using district transportation such as buses. This includes busing to and from extracurricular activities as well as everyday school bus rides. Magas stressed that this is a federal regulation, not a district decision.

"It's not a state or local decision. It's something that's been federally mandated," Magas said. "If that changes, we'd consider that at that point."

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Face masks are also required for students who are at least 2 years old, up to fifth grade. Magas explained that this is because vaccines are unavailable for children under 12.

"Basically every district is having to make this determination for its younger students. It's not state mandated, but we consulted with our local health department and our lead COVID coordinators to come to that decision," Magas said. "We considered the tightness of the quarters and the move away from contact tracing and social distancing. We wanted to continue to have this in place at this time."

Magas said the district will continue to monitor the situation and that the masking requirements could either tighten or loosen.

Vaccinations and testing for COVID-19 are strongly recommended and encouraged, but not required for students and staff. Unvaccinated students and staff are strongly encouraged to use masks inside of school buildings.

Magas noted that the district continues to work closely with the St. Louis County Department of Health to monitor local COVID-19 rates and state and federal guidance. Magas said the district’s COVID-19 protocols are subject to change based on local conditions, CDC guidance and directives from the state and federal level.

The Duluth Public Schools Safe Learning Plan is available with further information and updates at ISD709.org/SafeLearningPlan.