This past summer was busy for the entire staff at Oak Hill Academy in Lincroft. They were tasked with the preparation for a full day, five day a week schedule for all grades, prekindergarten to eighth. As a result, ventilation systems were updated with bipolar ionization units and air purifiers were installed in all rooms that didn’t have HVAC systems. The buildings received new slider windows to help increase air flow.
A welcome addition was the establishment of eight outdoor classrooms that teachers can utilize for meaningful instruction and a healthy dose of fresh air. They even provide an opportunity for a short mask break as the students are outdoors and far apart. Pavilions and tents were erected in various parts of the 20 acre Oak Hill campus. Today’s technology affords the learning cycle to continue smoothly due to Wi-Fi connectivity as students use their laptops and teachers provide creative instruction.
Students continue to collaborate as they work together using social distancing and Google Classroom. They share their writing and investigate issues of high interest. The outdoor areas are also perfect for doing experiments in math and science, which require additional space. The outdoor classrooms are also conducive to students gathering in large circles to discuss an essential question using their critical thinking skills and share opinions backed up with evidence. Deep thinking is also encouraged by the OHA teachers as they inspire using the Socratic Method.
The school intends to use these unique outside spaces for their PreK-8 grade students as long as the weather permits since the benefits of outdoor learning are both educational and health-related.