COVID-19 Communication

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Right arrow Northern Lights Academy 2020-21 Safe Learning Plan (includes all 3 learning models) 

Right arrow NLA School Closure and Distance Learning Plan (updated May 5, 2020)

Right arrow Families First Coronavirus Response Act Employee Rights Poster

Message from Assistant Special Education Director, Barb Mackey:

October 30, 2020

Dear Parents/Families/Staff:

Northern Lights Academy Staff and Administration are continuing to monitor the local data regarding Covid-19 in order to provide the most effective educational opportunities for your students and keep students and staff healthy and safe. Our staff have worked very hard to follow the requirements put out by the MN Department of Health and that is evidenced by the low impact to students and staff in our schools. 

We appreciate all of the support you are giving by monitoring your student and keeping him or her home when symptoms are present. We also are thankful for the calls regarding student absences because the student was exposed to a covid positive person and you decided to keep them home based on the information in the Decision Tree from MDH. This cooperation is helping to keep everyone safe at school and continuing our use of the In Person learning model at this time.

The local data is showing a significant increase in positive cases of Covid-19. The NLA Administration is planning to continue using the In Person model as long as possible, however, we know it may change. Our plan is to give you as much notice as possible. We encourage you to prepare for the possibility of distance learning so you and your family have a plan if we are needing to move to that model. At NLA, we are continuing to prepare for that possibility as well. 

One of the ways we are preparing is to make sure students take home the materials that may be needed if we have to move to the Distance Learning model. Starting next week, each student will bring home the materials which they may need so they can continue their learning. This may include: the school issued chromebook (as well as a hotspot for those students whose families do not have internet access at home), task/activity packets, supplies to complete the tasks/activities, and anything else that may be needed for their education. Please make sure to have your child bring a backpack so we may send items home each day. Whatever comes home in the bag should return to school the next day if we are able to have In Person learning.

School staff are also preparing their google classrooms and their other learning activities should they have to be out of school due to Covid-19. This preparation should help all of us to continue your student’s learning with as little disruption in the schedule as possible.  We hope that this preparation will not have to be used at all, but it is important to have it all ready.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we all work together to help your child learn. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or myself at the office or by calling/texting my google voice number at 218-451-2134. If it is after school hours, please use the google voice number and leave a message. I will return it as soon as possible if I am unable to answer it at the time you call or text. 

Have a great weekend and stay healthy!

Barb Mackey, Assistant Director of Special Education

Message from Assistant Special Education Director, Barb Mackey:

August 28, 2020

Happy Friday!
As of today, the Northern Lights Academy still has the option to use Scenario 1 - In Person Learning (with all the requirements from the MN Department of Health) for all students attending the NLA. Parents/guardians continue to have the option to request Distance Learning if they are uncomfortable with sending their child to school in person. We continue to monitor the health situation in all the communities we serve and will be in touch if there is a change to the model.

Packets have been sent out to families with information regarding our plans and back to school forms which will be needed the first day of school. The Open House is going to be by appointment only. If you would like to make an appointment, please call the NLA office and choose option 2 for the secretary. Ms. Petersen is our new secretary and she will set up the appointment with your child’s teacher.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the NLA office or use our emails to address your questions. We are looking forward to working with you and your child this year!

Message from Assistant Special Education Director, Barb Mackey:

Message to Families and Staff
July 30, 2020

Good Afternoon! This is Ms. Mackey with a quick announcement. I hope you are all having a fabulous summer day!

Governor Walz, along with the Commissioners of Health and Education made an announcement today regarding the plan for starting the school year. Instead of a one answer fits every district decision, the plan is based on local COVID-19 data and each individual school district’s ability to meet the health and safety guidance put out by MDH.

NLA staff are going to review the local data and work with the districts who refer students to us to be intentional in our re-opening. We want our students to be back in our buildings, but we need to ensure that the health and safety guidelines are met. Based on the current numbers for each of the counties we serve, the NLA could consider some form of in-person learning for the start of the school year, however, we do need to have further conversation with stakeholders in order to determine which plan will be used at the start of the school year.

As we move forward, we will closely monitor the local data in order to make thoughtful decisions. You can expect at least weekly communication from NLA with updates on our opening. Regardless of which plan is put into place, parents and guardians have the option to request Distance Learning if they are uncomfortable with sending their child to school.

We look forward to sharing additional information with you next week. Please call the school office if you have any questions or concerns. We wish you a great day!

Barb Mackey

Message from the Director of Special Education, Dena Hagen: 7/9/20:

Dear NLA Families and Staff,

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful summer so far!  It is a great opportunity to breathe in some fresh air and sunshine, and breathe out the stress you may be feeling during this unprecedented time.

As Ms. Mackey let you know, we are ready for an ESY program for those eligible students to start next week, back in the Garfield school building.  We established a hybrid plan for summer (see description below) and because of the small number of students attending, it allows us to have all students come in person every day of ESY.   Please click on these links here for the NLA full summer plan for 2020 and an accompanying 2020 ESY booklet for families.

We are also busy planning for students and staff to start school in the fall, which will look different to keep students, staff, and families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Schools are required to plan for three possible scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year:

1) In-Person Instruction- All students return to the building using social distancing measures
2) Hybrid - A combination of in person and distance learning with strict distancing and building capacity limits
3) Distance Learning - no students in the building, improving upon the system we had in place for Spring 2020

The Minnesota Department of Education will determine which scenario Minnesota schools will begin with this fall, sometime during the week of July 27 and we have been told to also prepare to "turn the dial" between more or less restrictive models during the school year, in response to the level of community spread of COVID-19.  

The Northern Lights Academy has also applied for federal CARES Act funding for our school.  Both the GEER (Governor's Education Emergency Relief) and the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief) funds will help us work to equitable education for all Northern Lights Academy students, especially in the area of technology and mental health.

We know that the unknown is placing significant strain on families and will share information as soon as it is available to help with your planning. We appreciate your understanding as we work to develop the best plans for meeting each of our students’ needs while also meeting the expectations set by MDE and MDH.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the NLA office or send an email to Barb Mackey or call me at 218-655-5018 or email me at

Thank you for your continued support!
Dena Hagen
Director of Special Education