Lane McIntyre, Head of School
This year has been like no other in our 50-year history. Over the past year, we have been faced with more challenges than ever before. From remote learning last spring -- where we had a crash course on ZOOM -- to the current school year where we have navigated the challenges of physical distancing and mask-wearing.
But we are Oakwood School.
From our earliest days, we have set a course to face challenges head on. We do what it takes to keep going and find success.
Our experience last spring, during the stay-at-home order, proved to us that hands-on learning is essential for our students. Students needed the ability to experience learning, not just through their eyes and ears, but also by touching and feeling. Considering the circumstances, our teachers did an amazing job. All of us longed to be back on campus because we knew that in person learning is best for our students.
Oakwood always does what it takes to facilitate learning.
Students at Oakwood achieve academic success because we provide them with a multi-sensory education in their classroom throughout every day. But, this year, we had to be practical. When given a directive by the governor of what was going to be required in order to open in person -- we knew the bar was high. A lot was needed. But in true Oakwood fashion, we set our minds and hands to do whatever it took to make it possible for our students to physically return to school in September.
That is what we do at Oakwood.
We figure out what needs to be done and we do it. We recognize what learning obstacles exist, and we go about addressing those obstacles purposefully, with brain-based, evidence-based techniques. In this case, the obstacle was COVID, and the way around it included:
● 6-foot social distancing at all times
● Wearing masks
● Air purification units in classrooms, air scrubbers in the HVAC systems and increased airflow and ventilation throughout the building
● Increased hand washing scheduled into the day
● Limiting students to cohorts
● Avoiding repetitive use of common spaces by different groups and avoiding large gatherings
● Sanitizer stations throughout the building and regular sanitizing of high touch surfaces
● Daily health screenings for students
● Daily health screenings for staff
● Secondary evening cleaning crew to specifically sanitize and target cleanse
● Specialized company contracted to deep cleanse if there is an infection in the building
● All students facing the same direction
● Plexiglass shields on teacher desks
● No sharing of classroom or other materials
● Significantly limiting visitors on campus
● Using high-grade soap in dispensers and high-grade disinfectant to clean the school daily
● Creating an isolation room for anyone exhibiting symptoms, fully equipped with PPE for care-givers
This is just a list of the specific layers of protection we put into place. We also drafted a comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation plan. Not only did we provide the tools for COVID-19 mitigation, but we also fostered a mitigation mindset in the building. We educated students and staff about their roles in this new environment and empowered them to play an active role in helping keep us all safe. Even our youngest learners will point quickly to your nose if they see it peeking out.
I have always loved and cherished our Oakwood community. But in this, our 50th year, I am particularly grateful for the success we have had with on-campus learning, amidst a global pandemic.
We look forward to the days of students huddling together to figure out a math problem, piling into our busses for field trips, and high fiving each other on the playground. We know that a return to normalcy lies in the not-too-distant future and we welcome it, with huge maskless smiles and open arms.