The O’Neal School announced to its families, faculty, staff and Trustees, the plan to welcome students back to campus on its originally scheduled date of Tuesday, August 11. The eight-page plan elaborates on the safety and health protocols put into place and how the school will continue to educate its students while adhering to restrictions set forth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the O’Neal Community, Head of School John Elmore states, “O’Neal has long had a full-time nurse and maintenance staff, and we have added a custodian for campus-wide cleaning and sanitizing throughout the school day in addition to afterschool housekeeping. We have acquired materials, such as hand sanitizer stations, distance thermometers and cleaning supplies, to meet the needs of the nearly 500 people on campus. With everything in place and with a large campus and five separate buildings to meet social distancing requirements, O’Neal is in an excellent position to open and remain open for in-person teaching and learning.”
Once into the state’s Phase II for COVID-19 re-entry, O’Neal redesigned its summer camps and swimming lessons to adhere to social distancing and safety protocols. For the past several weeks students have been on campus in small groups or for private swimming lessons, adhering to temperature checks, screening, social distancing, frequent hand washing and surface sanitizing. The School has reached a level of comfort in carrying out the recommended protocols.
The spring shutdown brought on the need for virtual software platforms to be used for required distance learning from the youngest to the oldest students. In the plan, these platforms have been formally defined according to grade levels. On campus learning will include these platforms for a smoother transition in the event hybrid or virtual learning must be activated.
In the plan’s introduction, it states, “Though the world as we know it has been disrupted, the mission of The O’Neal School remains steadfast. Academic Excellence, Strength of Character and Physical Well-Being are still the pillars that unite our school. We focus on serving the needs of the individual student, in an environment where they can thrive.”
“My wife and I continue to implicitly trust The O’Neal School with the health, welfare, and safety of our four children during the COVID pandemic,” says Retired Lt. Col. Matthew McGraw. “The School is a model in preparedness, safeguarding, and monitoring children as they conduct summer camps and off-season conditioning programs. No school cares more about our nation’s greatest treasure – our children – than O’Neal.”
“During the last several months, I have spoken to many of our families,” says Elmore. “It is clear to me that The O’Neal School community wants to be together, and we will always prioritize options to assure that time away from campus is minimized.”