Moving Forward – Plans and Details for Reopening
Our Mission & Our Vision
Our Mission:Oak Hill Academy is dedicated to a traditional, challenging, and caring learning environment that encourages comprehensive thought processes and deep understandings; thus promoting the wholesome intellectual, emotional, moral, and physical lifetime growth of our students.
Our Vision:As a community of learners, Oak Hill Academy believes that schools need to acknowledge their important role in students’ lives. To this end, we must strive to teach the whole person as framed in our contemporary society – a society that balances issues of how the absorption of intellectual pursuits supports the wellness, stimulation, and growth of all persons in a democracy. We strive to foster in each student a passion for life-long learning. We seek excellence, respect for the individual, responsibility, and integrity. We are dedicated to creating an academically rigorous curriculum which is supported by a diverse and nurturing environment where students can flourish. All children have an instinctive need to learn, a natural curiosity, and a desire to do work of significance. Our intention is to combine the strongest possible academic atmosphere with a supportive, caring environment in an effort to develop self-confident, motivated students who have a love of learning.
Protocol for Returning to School in September
To our Oak Hill Families, We wanted to share with you some of our plans for September. We have been through a lot together and have managed to maintain the heart of Oak Hill Academy, even in an unprecedented situation. The following plans are open to refinement based on changing data, safety recommendations, and state requirements. Please be assured, no matter how the school looks in September, Oak Hill will remain a special environment that we all know and love. It is important to note that these plans are working models that can be amended as we are given updated guidelines from the CDC and requirements from the Governor’s office and state. Important Highlights:
- We are anticipating and planning for five full school days for all of our students on campus simultaneously.
- All classes will have tables and desks spaced as recommended for social distancing.
- The school will offer a remote learning option for parents who would be more comfortable with the availability of online instruction. This would include the administration of the OHA curriculum using Google classroom, access to instructional videos, and the ability to attend most classes remotely in real time using the Swivl remote learning plan option, which involves live stream technology through Zoom. Of course, the execution of this plan will vary depending on the grade level.
- Technology will be a continued positive force in the learning process.
- Each of the tools of online learning must be a part of the implementation process. The uniformity and continuity amongst teachers are preferred when possible.
- Reading should be at the top of the list for all grade levels.
- Using creativity doesn’t stop when remote learning begins.
- Teacher instructions must be given to be clearly understood.
- The possible stress level on all fronts must be considered by both parents and teachers. Children need time to simply relax.
- Social interaction must be maintained as much as possible. Children need to know that their teachers and friends are there for them and care for them.
- Assessment must take many forms. The objective is to determine what is understood and how we can build for further learning.
- Students need feedback in remote learning the same as in the live classroom.
- Teachers should utilize video conference sessions for individual contact as well as group work. Breakout sessions are also desirable for small group discussion.
- Research and hands-on projects that tie into a deeper understanding enhance all subject areas.
Learning and Instruction:
Our Learning and Instruction plan has been built with a great deal of flexibility allowing for both in school and remote scenarios. We have a great advantage as a small school when it comes to teacher to student ratio, as well as the ability to spread out to make allowances for social distancing guidelines (again, as determined by the state and CDC). Our Upper School students will enter a somewhat different school day than before. Our curriculum, one that has been constantly enhanced over the last 40 years, will continue to engage and challenge them to strive for their personal best. In order to reduce student movement around campus, we will be using a six period day on a six-day cycle. These A-F days are identified and rotating on the school calendar. Our Lower School will continue with the same curriculum as in previous years using a blended learning environment. Our children will be active learners as they use technology and activities to enrich their thinking skills. Engaging the student in deep thinking, reading, and math-reasoning skills will be the central goals. All of our “special” subjects will help our children to be well rounded in their scope of development. Research shows that these subject areas not only expand creativity but also support the basic skills. As in the Upper School, the Lower School specials will be held on a 6 day, A-F cycle. All teachers have taken professional development training over the summer to enhance their technology and blended learning skills. OHA teachers who have become experts in an area have shared their knowledge with others. This helps create a consistent educational plan. Oak Hill Academy will be prepared whether school is mandated to be remote or in-person. An educational model will be in place for students toggling between receiving instruction at school and remote learning. If the school grounds should have to be closed, we will have the OHA Remote Learning Plan ready to enact. In the event there is remote learning, extra help will be made available to connect student and teacher. Students who receive educational services will have a schedule to keep these plans going. Upper School Lit Plus will be available remotely. After school clubs will be offered even in remote learning, but with some modifications. Students in grades 3-8 that have been issued Chromebooks will utilize these devices during remote learning. Students in grades Pre-K-2 may use their personal devices or borrow from the school. With remote or live instruction, the “Tuesday Talks,” which is a small group teacher led discussion, will continue to provide a forum for the social and emotional well-being of our students. It will include strategies for coping, creating a code of respect, celebrating of diversity, etc. The Lower School will use the Responsive Classroom to achieve similar goals.
Health and Safety Plan:
Our Health and Safety Plan will continue to evolve up until the beginning of the school year as we learn more about state and CDC guidelines. In order to be proactive, we have made a series of plans available for implementation. Some of the features include the following: I. Monitoring for COVID-19
- The school will adhere to ‘Sick, stay home; sick, go home.’
- Parents are asked to take the temperature of their children and check them for symptoms at home.
- Prior to entering school, there will be a daily temperature check for staff and students. Those administering will wear protective gear and maintain a record (depending on CDC and state guidelines.)
- Any student or staff with a temperature over 100.4 ˚F will be isolated and will be required to go home.
- Absenteeism will be monitored to identify any trends in staff or child absences due to illness. The school nurse will maintain a log.
- COVID-19 testing is required for all staff prior to the start of the school year.
- In the event a student or staff member shows symptom(s), (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) the individual shall be taken to an isolation room while the rest of the class is organized and led into a spare room while the classroom is disinfected. See COVID-19 Action Plan.
- We will have a crisis management plan in place for when someone in our community tests positive for the coronavirus. The health department will provide our lead on best and necessary practices. See COVID-19 Action Plan.
- We have created a communication system for staff and families for self-reporting of symptoms and notification of exposures and closures. Our school nurse will be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns.
- All classes will have tables and desks spaced as recommended for social distancing. Partitioning may also be used to create added separation.
- In the Upper School, change of class will use a rotational plan with a one-way traffic pattern to ensure social distancing and avoid crowded hallways. Students will remain spaced according to guidelines. For the time being, students will not be using lockers so that a safe distance can be maintained. The Lower School will also follow a one-way traffic pattern.
- We will stagger use of communal use spaces, such as playgrounds and the cafeteria (or have lunch in classrooms and other designated areas). Routine cleaning must be performed between each new group’s uses.
- Physical education classes will be held outside as much as possible. Emphasis will be placed on non-contact sports and games with no shared equipment. Multiple changing areas have been created to provide separation between students.
- Only one student at a time will be allowed in the restrooms.
- Technology will help us collaborate in the classroom while still maintaining social distance.
- Social Distancing will be maximized by using all available space (cafeteria, gym, tech center, empty classrooms, Scire Center, Soler Center, library.)
- Keep children’s belongings separated and in individually labeled pencil cases and bags. These can be brought to specials.
- Pre-K and Kindergarten will use head-to-toe positioning for nap and rest time.
- No off campus field trips.
- For the time being, we will host substitute virtual versions of large group assemblies or performances in lieu of large in-door gatherings.
- Whenever possible, Lower School will minimize class movement to various other rooms. It might be better to have the teacher come to the class instead, especially for some specials.
- No Fuss lunch will continue to provide catered lunches. All lunches must be preordered and will come prepackaged. To begin the school year, no food items will be made available for purchase at the lunch counter.
- As per our soccer league’s mandate, the fall season has been cancelled. However, we will be able to provide training sessions in the afternoon. Cross Country will follow a similar plan.
- Avoid sharing of items.
- Grades 3, 4, and Upper School will have 1:1 personal Chromebooks, therefore avoiding any sharing. Lower School shared devices will be monitored and cleaned. Avoid use of items that are not easily cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected. Teachers will have UV light wands to aide in sanitization.
- Current CDC guidelines and state mandates require students and staff to wear face coverings. Parents should put the name/initials of their children on all face coverings. Teachers and staff will schedule breaks into the day to provide some relief. Please refer to the Governor and NJ Dept. of Education’s 3 update for more details.
- Students will use personal water bottles with their names on them. Filling stations will be available. All water fountains will be closed down.
- All students will wash their hands or use hand sanitizers at the beginning of the day, before and after lunch, and after activities.
- Starting on the first day of school, enhanced instruction for students on good hygiene procedures will be taught and demonstrated.
- Wash hands often.
- Sneeze in elbow.
- Do not touch face, nose, or mouth.
- Dispose of tissues immediately.
- Feel sick, go to the nurse.
- Practice social distancing.
- Do not share items.
- Until receipt of notice and guidelines from the state, no visitors, except for necessary health officials and first responders, are allowed in school buildings during school hours.
- We will post signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Four hand washing station have been installed with two in the Upper School and two in the Lower School. This gives us six sinks in both Upper and Lower Schools plus sinks already in the Arts building, gym, cafeteria, Scire Center, Soler Science Center, Tech Center, and Center for Early Learning.
- All hand sanitizer units will be filled and functional.
- Desktops will be disinfected between classroom rotations: constant cleaning of surfaces using ultra violet light wands and/or disinfectants and/or cordless electrostatic sprayers (ionization machines).
- Nurse’s office will be sanitized constantly.
- We will have continuous daily cleaning of commonly used surfaces (door handles, sinks, faucets, etc.).
- Rooms and equipment will be cleaned nightly according to recommended guidelines. A procedure manual and schedule log of cleaning will be maintained.
- Upper School classrooms have had new slider windows installed to provide increased ventilation, and AC units in both Upper and Lower Schools will use the fan option to increase air circulation.
- We are offering a live Swivl/Zoom videoconferencing option for families who prefer at home live instruction.
- Room A/C units will be used for air-conditioning as well as providing fresh air.
- Ultraviolet light or Bipolar Ionization apparatus has been installed in all HVAC units.
- We have serviced all A/C ventilation units: cleaning/filters/upgrading.
- No use of lockers; only assigned cubbie space.
- Use of outdoor classrooms when possible, using canopies or sails to provide shade.
- Installation of COVID-9 signage for hygiene reminders.
- Ultraviolet light wands used where appropriate.
- Nanoseptic coverings on high touch surfaces to ward off germ transmission.
- Social distancing and/or Plexiglass shields in classrooms.
- Daily temperature and symptoms checks at home.
- Air purifiers installed in all rooms where appropriate.
- Common use items in Lower School and Specials sanitized by ultraviolet wands after every use.
- HVAC filters upgraded to the highest MERV level the system can handle.
A Joyous Return
As a community, we are moving forward to return to full time school with as many precautions as possible. We will get through this together with the support and understanding of all. As always, the health and safety of everyone in our community will continue to be our number one priority. We wish that we could predict the future, but we will maintain flexibility in order to take appropriate action when necessary. We will be taking all necessary precautions; however, we will continue to emphasize the joy of learning and friendship. We have compiled the following Q & A in anticipation of possible concerns (all answers pending CDC guidelines):
- Q: Will the school require COVID-19 testing?
A: All teachers and staff will be required to be tested for COVID-19 during the period of August 1 through August 12, with results supplied to the nurse’s office by August 26. Testing of students will be voluntary with results also being submitted to the nurse’s office. Remember that accurate testing only reveals if the virus is currently present; a negative test does not mean that person will not acquire the virus later. Students and staff who have indicated symptoms will be assumed to have the virus and may return to campus as per the OHA COVID-19 Action Plan and nurse consultation.
- Q: What if a student or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day?
A: They will be sent home. Please see OHA COVID-19 Action Plan.
- Q: What if a student or staff member displays a temperature󠆷 over 100󠆷.4°F? While entering school? During the school day?
A: They will be sent home. Please see OHA COVID-19 Action Plan.
- Q: How will the school deal with symptoms of other illness (a raspy cough, low-grade fever or nausea etc.)? What will return to school constitute?
A: Illnesses will be monitored through health screening and temperature taking. If a student or staff is ill, they must go home. In order to return, they will need to be symptom free and/or have a doctor’s note to return as per the OHA COVID-10 Action Plan.
- Q: What is the procedure the school will take if a student, staff member, or family-member of a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19? How will the community be notified and with what details?
A: Please see OHA COVID-19 Action Plan. Nurse will contact local Health Official. OHA community informed through email on needs basis with direction from local Health Official.
- Q: What guidance will be provided to teachers to support the social-emotional health of those students who do go home for a period of time (for any reason) to minimize stigmatization on their return to school?
A: Advisor will keep the teachers abreast and give guidance on being understanding and showing empathy. Tuesday Talks will also be an avenue of conversation and understanding.
- Q: Will the school develop a confidential list of both students and staff who are more highly vulnerable to COVID-19?
A: Yes, this list is generated by the school nurse and kept confidential.
- Q: How will the school handle social distancing and hygiene during:
a.) Lunch – hands washed before and after lunch, sitting in a physically distant spot, no sharing of food/drink, cleaning of tables/seats in between lunches.
b.) P.E. – hands washed/sanitized before and after PE, multiple areas for changing, socially distant activities, outside as much as possible, equipment sanitized.
c.) Recess –classes will alternate use of playground and soccer field. In between equipment will be cleaned. Hands washed at conclusion. Students will be socially distant.
- Q: Will the school have interscholastic sports this fall? (i.e. soccer, cross country)
A: Our Soccer League made the decision to cancel the fall season, however, our students will be able to train. The same goes for Cross Country. Modified practices will be set-up.
- Q: Will the school have its regular after school activities? (i.e. after-care, homework club, after school help, and clubs)
A: Yes, we will have clubs, but with modifications.
- Q: How will parents be kept updated on changes in policy/procedures for COVID-19?
A: Email and updates posted on school website.
- Q: Will the school be cleaned during school hours as well as after school?
A: All high-touch areas, including bathrooms and lunch tables, will be cleaned throughout the day. A hired individual has the sole responsibility to clean high touch areas throughout the school day. A cleaning group will also clean all areas at the end of each school day.
- Q: What is the procedure if a community member or family member tests positive for COVID 19?
A: If local health officials determine that there is substantial transmissions of COVID 19 within the community, they will provide guidance to administrators on the best cause of action for schools. This would be on a case by case basis. See OHA COVID-19 Action Plan.
- Q: Will parents be required to take temperature checks and do a health screening before school each day?
A: Yes, parents will be required to take temperature of their children at home every morning and ask how they are feeling. This is to avoid having a child coming to school who is not feeling well. Upon arriving, temperatures will be taken again and hands will be sanitized.
- Q: Will the school assist students in not losing their face masks?
A: Every student will be given an OHA mask and a lanyard that hangs around their neck to secure their masks. Extra masks will available and students are recommended to use the masks that best fit and feel most comfortable for them.
- Q: How will the school increase ventilation in classrooms?
A: Ultraviolet and bipolarization ionization apparatus installed in HVAC units, air purifiers placed in rooms, two new windows installed for opening in the Upper School, HVAC Filters upgraded to highest MERV level the system allows, and room air conditioning units cleaned.
- Q: What are the symptoms of having COVID-19 that home and school should monitor?
A: Please see OHA COVID-19 Action Plan.
- Q: What is the hygiene protocol that we are required to follow in both school and at home?
A: Washing hands, sneezing, avoiding touching mouth, nose, eyes. Watch training video. Do not share items, practice social distancing, and wear mask.
- Q: Will students and staff have to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to starting school if they have traveled to any of the “hot spot” states listed by NJ?
A: Yes, according to NJ State law.
- Under what circumstances will a confirmed case(s) of COVID-19 result in a partial or full closure (and enactment of remote learning)?
A: The NJ Department of Health dictates that “closure is a local decision that should be made by school administrators in consultation with local public health.” Please see the NJ Department of Health Closure Guidelines on page 16 for details and possible scenarios.
A Final Note from Mr. Pacelli
We all realize that the current situation is complex and is weighed down with plenty of uncertainty. However, we will all prepare the best we can to ensure the health and safety of our entire community. A dry run of this plan will be done with staff acting as students. School might look a little different this fall, but it will still maintain the essence of OHA. We are confident that our children will be in an environment which continues to enrich their lives socially and academically, while permitting them to feel safe, wanted, and cared for. Please continue to enjoy your summer, relax, and stay healthy. We will keep you updated when and if there are any needed amendments.
Joseph A. Pacelli
Headmaster, Oak Hill Academy
- OAK HILL ACADEMY COVID-19 ACTION PLAN for Students, Faculty, and Staff
- NJ Department of Health Closure Guidelines