Pacific Northern Academy
Coronavirus Upates & Information
From the Head of School...
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.
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...
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,
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.
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.