Pacific Northern Academy

Coronavirus Upates & Information



















Date: 7.27.20


From the Head of School...

Dear Families,

As I have made decisions throughout this pandemic, I have sought out the advice of our independent school association (NWAIS, NAIS), other private schools in Alaska, our staff and community and health experts. This week I have spent much time reviewing research and even conducting a few experiments myself and have decided that PNA will require staff and students K-8 to wear cloth face coverings when we return to school. On Friday the CDC published Guidance for K-12 School Administrators on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings in Schools which supports my decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry agrees with the need for face coverings and lists several other higher-priority strategies that we plan to meet. These are:


  • Children should wear face coverings when harms (eg, increasing hand-mouth/nose contact) do not outweigh benefits (potential COVID-19 risk reduction).

  • Desks should be placed 3 to 6 feet apart when feasible.

  • Cohort classes to minimize crossover among children and adults within the school.

  • Utilize outdoor spaces when possible


I want to thank you for your patience as the administration, Back-to-School Task Force and Board of Trustees work to make sure that the decisions we make are the best for the health and safety of the whole community. I appreciate your trust and support.


Please continue to read the following important information that provides more details for the upcoming school year.


According to CDC guidelines, which we will follow, the following exceptions are allowed for a student to not wear a face coverings.

  • The student has severe asthma or breathing problems.

  • If wearing a cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition.


Before and After School Care (EDP) will be purchased using UltraCamp. Reservations for EDP must be made by August 7th to ensure your spot.

  • You will receive an email this week with detailed instructions on how to sign up. 

  • Drop in care will not be available. 

  • If you have already purchased EDP through TADS, you will receive a credit to your TADS account.

Due to  the unique nature of the teaching schedule, instruction will be four and ½ days. We will have early release on Friday. Care will be available at no charge from noon to 3:30pm.

You will be required to sign your child up for this care so that staffing can be arranged. An email will be sent out next Monday that will allow you to sign up.


You will need to select a regular drop off and pick up time for the school year or until COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. 

Drop off choices will be: 8:00am, 8:15am, 8:30am, and 8:45am so that health checks can be administered. (If you require before school care, you can drop off at 7:00am, 7:15am, 7:30am, and 7:45am.) 

Pick up choices will be: 3:15pm or 3:30pm. (If you require after school care, no designated time is required.)


An email will be sent out next Monday that will allow you to sign up.

Previous Updates

To read the COVID-19 Mitigation Plan we have been using for our summer camp please click the button below.




Update: May 4 - May 8


From the Head of School...

Dear Families,


When we were forced to switch to distance learning in March, we knew that it would be impossible to reproduce our PNA classroom experience. Therefore, we distilled our instruction to core academics (math and language arts) with a healthy dose of social interaction through community-building activities. As we progressed through the long weeks, teachers realized that students were missing the projects that were so ingrained into every classroom. This realization led us to finish the year across the grades with a project - determined and driven by the student. 


As the co-teacher for the past six weeks, you fully understand how dry and unmotivating instruction followed by drill can be. This lack of engagement and long-term retention combined with the unknown challenges of tomorrow’s careers are what motivated PNA to review our instructional delivery system about four years ago. We understood that students needed to learn universal skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, reasoning, and resilience in order to face future challenges. These skills were almost impossible to teach using the traditional educational pedagogy. 


Therefore, the PNA staff compared our practices to those of highly successful schools and programs, and determined that the Project-Based Learning* teaching method would allow us to reach our goal of graduating students who not only enjoyed and were engaged in learning yet were prepared for future challenges. We made the switch to PBL.  Then, three years later, we faced the enormous challenge of COVID-19 and distance learning. For a while we did not listen to what our heads and hearts were telling us about effective instruction; we stopped PBL. However, we have wised up and have been reminded that PBL is the best way to engage and instruct our students. 

So thank you, COVID-19. Students - enjoy your projects!

Until next week,


Laurie Hoefer

Head of School

*(PBL is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.)

If you would like to read research on the positive outcomes of PBL please click on this link:


Many Thanks To


John Hardwick and Ral West


As always, our continued success is shared with the people and companies that support us.






Coronavirus Anxiety- Helpful Expert Tips and Resources, Anxiety & Depression Association of America

Help Your Family De-Stress During Coronavirus Uncertainty, Common Sense Media

How to Talk to Kids about Coronavirus, The NY Times

Talking to Children about COVID-19, National Association of School Psychologists

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus, Child Mind Institute

Helping Children Cope, video from CBC News



CDC Updates, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 and Children, from the CDC

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), COVID-19 Homepage, from the CDC, FEMA, & the White House



When faced with adversity, Alaskans know how to stay calm, formulate a plan and confidently carry on.


At Pacific Northern Academy, we make sure that all students understand how to successfully navigate adversity and uncertainty.


In light of the current situation, we saw an opportunity and adapted, beginning distance learning on March 18. In doing so, we are making sure to keep our community together, students continue to see their friends in class and have structure and direction to their day and week from their teachers, both classroom and specials. Our students are learning how to be resilient and keep moving towards their goal, all while making sure to have fun. 


Distance learning has allowed us to continue to deliver on our commitment to our mission, it has also created a unique project based learning opportunity as well. At no other time have we experienced a global pandemic to this scale. Everyone will remember this for the rest of their lives. 


Our small class sizes and standards of our curriculum, have allowed instruction to continue with the highest level of engagement and interest. 


We invite you to ask questions and come see for yourself what PNA can offer to you. 

PNA Distance Learning Daily Schedule Examples

Early Kindergarten


Distance Learning in Action


Kindergarten Distance Learning Plan.png

Second Grade

Morning Meeting 

For more information on Pacific Northern Academy or if you have questions about our admissions process:

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“Smaller class sizes, along with personalized attention from teachers, and a sense of belonging to a community. These are some of the reasons we chose PNA for our daughter, in a decision that feels like a lifetime ago.  How would it be possible for the school to maintain these qualities in this new and difficult world we face?

Three days after Spring Break ended, the PNA staff had distributed fully-charged and working Chromebooks, resumed classes, and we saw their smiling faces on Zoom. We soon discovered that the staff had gathered and implemented their ideas to put this technology and new processes into effect in less than a week.

Daily plans and schedules evolved quickly. There were some growing pains in the first few days, as expected, but with humor and patience the school routine has become orderly and efficient.

Most notably, so far, has been the ability of the PNA teachers and administrative staff to adapt to the on-line platform. They established screen time discipline when it began, and swiftly set guidelines for students’ on-line behavior and decorum. It seems to be working, and the kids are responding well to something that is new to all of us.

Each day, the Homeroom morning meetings offer time for kids to say hello, greetings from teachers and students alike.  Next, a clear plan is explained for the day ahead. This is followed by a math lesson, in which the teacher sets the tone for a morning at home that is specific to school work.

The teachers are very enthusiastic about educating the students at PNA.  Art class is very engaging on-line, and our daughter enjoys getting her art supplies together for a structured art class that applies themes and focus.  She receives feedback and encouragement as she creates, and shares her views and hears those of the other students.  Music class has been very thoughtful, with the lessons carefully considered, and still full of fun and enjoyment.  Spanish class has been filled with give-and-take from the teacher, with responses heard and efforts rewarded.

The Head of School, Laurie Hoefer, along with staff members Peter Kling and Macey Walter, have been very proactive and communicate frequently, keeping parents updated and informed in this ever-changing environment.  We have heard from them in both emails and newsletters, keeping the community unified.

The way that Pacific Northern Academy has handled the challenges of this unprecedented situation is indicative of who they are as a school and a community, as a model of professionalism and love of learning.  As parents of a student who is excelling in her second year at PNA, especially during these precarious times, we are convinced that PNA was the right choice for us.”

PNA has been phenomenal for my daughter. She has been to PNA since third grade and is thriving here.  She was doing ok in public school where she was initially, yet from third grade until now, she has truly blossomed! I have seen her confidence grow, she has regained her intrinsic love for learning and continues to be excited to do projects, get involved in the community and develop new traits and skills. The staff treat all the students with respect and treat them as bright, engaged thinkers and teach to their potential. This is the biggest difference I believe from public school - the teachers and community are full of excitement and are motivated and inspired, and this atmosphere directly impacts the kids.This school promotes development of the whole person- their character (from volunteering and being engaged in the community) to creativity and self expression with their great arts program and high academic achievement- with science, math, writing stories, and four days of Spanish a week. 

The kids also truly get involved with the community and become positive, compassionate members of the whole school. The older kids work with the younger ones and become role models - my sixth grader reads books to the younger kids and they are often interact, which adds to the community/family feel. Another great thing I have seen for the kids is the public speaking, they do frequent presentations and make videos- this was a hard part for my shy daughter yet the school is gentle yet encouraging with this, and although she is still shy she is able to do it well and has made huge progress! I personally didn't do public speaking until graduate school, so its great to see her do this now.


Last but not least, the best part of the school is the family. PNA has truly become like family to us, as our biological family lives out of state. This has been the most important part of school as they are helping raise our kids and I can tell you that it has made a world of difference! My daughter and her classmates got through two huge events without any trauma! They made it through the earthquake and now this covid-19 pandemic without too much stress or anxiety. My daughter is up early every day ready and excited for class with this distance learning program and it has really helped this transition. The resilience and support this school environment has given my daughter and I has been life changing. Thank you PNA from the bottom of my heart!

Our family just wanted to send a quick note saying how totally impressed we are with how quickly the educators at PNA were able to mobilize and get a distance learning platform up and running for our children. We are all equally impressed with how Mrs. McCormick and Mrs. Hitchcock have obviously spent much time in developing and self-training to work our little guys through all this the technology. We sincerely appreciate all that PNA and our teachers are doing to get us through this challenging time. You often hear from families when they are expressing a concern so we thought we'd send a note letting you know we "caught someone being good."

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Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 3:15 pm

Extended Day Program: 7:30 am to 6:00 pm

Front Office 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Contact information


2511 Sentry Drive, Suite 100

Anchorage, Alaska 99507

Tel: (907) 333-1080 Fax: (907) 333-1652

Pacific northerN academy is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization
tax id: 92-0145501