As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers into fall, it leaves public schools struggling to find solutions in continuing the learning experience for students successfully. Meanwhile, Oaks Christian School, a private school in Westlake Village, has made many improvements in welcoming students back to campus safely as well as providing an efficient online learning experience.
Through the summer, Oaks Christian School was well-prepared to welcome students back to campus with their state-of-the-art cameras, built-in hand sanitizers, scanners and social distance policies. Rob Black, Head of School, advised that with the technology in all of the classrooms, cafes and athletic facilities, they were confident that opening up on campus would be the best for the education for the students to thrive.
According to the Administration, they have installed “owl” cameras, providing a panoramic view of classrooms for any students at home that are not able to return to campus. Additionally, the academic building has added built-in hand sanitizers in the hallways and electronic face scanners that check temperatures. Regardless of the county’s qualifications, the Oaks faculty is eager to welcome students back as soon as the county requirements are met.
Unfortunately, starting August 12, Oaks Christian began their 2020-21 school year remotely. Multiple zoom codes, strained eyes and stress of college application season would approach remotely, leaving kids lost and unsupported.
However, Oaks Christian has provided a new schedule that would work regardless of being remote or on campus. They have adopted an A and B Day Block Schedule that would continue the academic rigor as well as provide times of rest for its students.
Students would have four total classes with all of them taking place every day, starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:15 p.m. During remote learning, Oaks believed that this flexible schedule would best for students to get the most out of their education and still be challenged.
After a month, they formed a solution that would get students back on campus and also relieve the stress of those struggling with too much screen time. Oaks initiated “Ex-Days” and “Wellness Wednesdays” — day camps that would give the students an opportunity to participate in activities on campus.
Ex-days help give athletes the opportunity to practice their sports on campus with no contact. They were created to relieve students and maintain the community of the school. This allows for a more flexible schedule to still interact with peers socially distanced and have more time off-screen.
Regardless of being remote, the Senior Class of 2021 has some mixed feelings starting their senior year online. Some students have said that they enjoy the online experience since they have more time to sleep-in during free periods as well as have more time to invest in their extracurriculars and work on college applications.
Other students express that online learning means they are losing their senior year experience and wish to spend it on campus. However, many seniors were able to attend the first Ex-Day on campus for their Senior Lounge on September 16. This was a time for seniors to hang out with their friends on campus and celebrate their last year with the rest of the class and supporting faculty.
Students, parents, faculty anticipate returning to on-campus learning as soon as possible or in January 2021 for the second semester, potentially issuing a hybrid model. No matter the restrictions from the county, Oaks Christian remains a strong, well-working, and lively campus environment (virtually and physically) that begins to change the success of its students’ education.