Ready for Anything: Oak Knoll Unveils Full Day On-Campus, Remote Options for Fall

oak knoll's fall reopening planWith so much uncertainty surrounding reopening schools in the fall, one thing is clear: Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit is ready for anything. After investing more than $600,000 in hygiene and facilities upgrades, Oak Knoll announced its full reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic school year nearly four months after Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the shut-down of all New Jersey schools.

This fall, Oak Knoll committed to offering students and families a choice — both offering a high-quality academic education. The in-person option comes with highly detailed safety protocols in place while the remote option offers students opportunities to attend classes live from home. Both academic options will maintain program quality and academic outcomes while also protecting the mental health of students and staff.

See the full Oak Knoll reopening plan.

Families will be able to choose the learning method they prefer for several five-week sessions throughout the year.
“I wanted to organize the learning options in more manageable periods, because our now-COVID-19 world keeps pivoting and changing,” said Timothy J. Saburn, Oak Knoll Head of School, “which means we need to pivot along with it.”

Saburn, who appointed a School Reopening Task Force in May, explained that it is highly possible that Oak Knoll may have to move from the hybrid live/remote model to the all-virtual model and back again before achieving a fully face-to-face program with precautions.

“Our families understand that this has been an incredibly fluid situation since March and the conditions and circumstances are constantly changing,” said Saburn. “They know that we are continuing to abide by CDC and NJDOE recommendations and requirements, and we will be aligned with Governor Murphy’s regulations in order to keep them safe.”

This summer, Oak Knoll made several enhancements to the school campus to safely return students and employees, including: 3-Ply face masks, KN95 masks and face shields; adult face coverings and child face coverings; spray hand sanitizers, paper gowns and non-latex gloves; classroom cameras; touchless sinks and touchless toilets; touchless hand-washing stations; UV light sanitizers; handheld and backpack electrostatic sprayers; HVAC enhancements to control air quality; and plexiglass dividers to separate students in classrooms and shared spaces.

“We have spent countless hours and resources developing these plans, having them reviewed by the school doctor and counsel, conferring with area colleagues from the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools and Holy Child Network on their procedures and protocols, all to ensure the safety and health of our students, faculty, staff and administrators,” said Saburn.

Oak Knoll’s small class sizes have enabled the school to remain open on a full-day schedule while providing a safe environment for students and faculty.

“Our already small community has afforded us the flexibility to still open while larger schools have to be on split days for partial weeks,” said Jennifer G. Landis, Associate Head of School. “Our goal has been to ensure the space we have is as safe as possible for our students to return and to also provide our teachers with working spaces that protect them. Our unique schedule limits transitions and provides for sustained periods of instruction that we know is conducive to an engaging and productive learning experience.”

For now, Oak Knoll has its sights set on reopening with safety protocols in place and Saburn described the upcoming school year as an ever-evolving situation.

“This isn’t going to go away anytime soon,” said Saburn. “There is always the possibility that our planning will need to change again, but we have anticipated this and we are ready.”

For more information, please visit Oak Knoll’s regularly updated COVID-19 page.

A picture of Haley Meehan and team after raising money for charity.