Starting School This Fall
We are looking forward to having our students back on campus to start the 2020-21 school year. Below is a synopsis of the communication that has been distributed to our families thus far on how Hill will be operating when school starts. We hope having all this information consolidated will be a convenient way for parents to find information. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.
Greetings from Hill School,
Thanks to all of you for your support and flexibility during what was no doubt the most memorable term in the history of Hill School. As we have brought the 2019-20 School Year to a successful conclusion during the past two weeks — from the final classes and assemblies on Zoom, to a week of productive faculty meetings, to last week’s Materials Exchange Days and the June Board Meeting (via Zoom!) — I have been reminded of the importance of our sense of community and that our personal connections are at the root of what makes Hill School so strong and successful.
I am writing with an update on our plans for the summer and the start of the next school year.
We will be offering a few small in-person camps (and one virtual club) during July. Camps will be Nature, Multi-Sport, Theater, Explorers, Newspaper, Drums & Recorders, and Messy Messers as well as a Virtual Club “Introduction to Filmmaking.” The Lego and Ready-Set-Go camps originally scheduled for July have been canceled. You can learn more about the July Camps and sign up for them here. We will be announcing the August camp schedule in mid July.
Hill School will be opening, as usual, on the Thursday after Labor Day (September 10th) for all students in person. While the Governor’s Executive Order in March closed all schools during the spring, the current guidance from the state allows independent schools to offer different programs than public schools for the coming year.
We will be updating you during the summer on the measures which will be in place to keep our students, faculty, and staff as healthy as possible at school when we are back on campus. While there will be adjustments to some of our usual routines and schedules, we are looking forward to providing a robust in-person Hill School education that embodies our distinguishing characteristics of Community and Total Education for each student.
Although we have not determined a date, we will hold Graduation this summer in person and on campus. While it will be different from most graduations in some ways (e.g. a smaller audience, likely a different location, and a modified party afterwards), many aspects — including the graduates’ dress, the alumni association gifts, the class speakers, the public recognition of each student, and the awarding of diplomas — will remain unchanged.
Please note that the School Buildings and Playground will continue to be closed to all but essential personnel, enrolled campers, and limited groups with special permission until further notice. The grounds, trails, and fields remain open to all of you and to our community for exercise and respite.
On behalf of the faculty and staff, I wish you and your children a restful, healthy, and productive summer.
I hope that your summer is going well, and that you and your children are healthy and having a relaxing and enjoyable summer so far.
We are writing to update you, our families, on our plans for how Hill will be structured this fall as well as with information about summer camps.
Understanding how the school will operate this fall is top of mind for all of us. Thank you for your patience as we are working through what modifications and adjustments to make to the school day.
Although information about how best to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic is rarely certain and often changing, we are developing a structure that we believe offers a good balance between keeping our community healthy and providing a valuable educational experience for your children.
HILL THIS FALL
As you know, we plan to offer a five day program for our students beginning on Thursday, September 10. Although the program will reflect Hill’s principles of Community and Total Education, it will look very different from a typical day at Hill School.
A FEW HIGH LEVEL GUIDELINES
• We will hold our classes outside as much as possible. We are fortunate to have such a large campus with so many wonderful spots to gather outdoors.When we are indoors, we will open windows and doors to maximize the flow of fresh air as much as possible.
• There are many authorities with sometimes different recommendations for how schools should be structured. While we are considering recommendations from many different sources, we are looking primarily to the State of Virginia (specifically the VDOE’s report Recover, Redesign, and Restart 2020) and the CDC’s guidelines for how to operate this fall. We will adhere to these guidelines as much as possible, varying from them only when it is reasonable and prudent.
• We will prioritize direct instruction in basic personal hygiene (regular hand washing, “covering” our coughs, not sharing things, etc.) and responsible social habits (keeping distance from one another, wearing masks when necessary, etc.).
• Hill will offer a full school day program for our students. We will not be offering in-person before or after school care, study halls, or after school clubs. Parents should pick children up at their scheduled dismissal times. We are looking into the possibility of providing coverage for younger siblings of older students so that families can pick all their children up at the same time.
• Students in grades K-8 will be assigned to one of two equal sized groups in which they will spend the day (JK will remain in one group as they are already a small group). Each of these groups will have their own assigned homeroom, which will be their primary classroom and be used only by them. As a rule, students will not change groups during the day, including during sports or other activities.
• Teachers will usually come to the students’ classroom rather than students traveling to the teachers’ rooms.
• We will use maps to show which routes children should use when leaving their classrooms to minimize contact between groups.
• Adults and children will need to wear masks anytime they cannot maintain at least six feet of distance from one another. This applies regardless of whether they are indoors or out and includes all transitional times.
• Students will need to have all their own materials for school (no sharing of pencils, scissors, etc.) and will need to bring (microwave-free) lunches and snacks as well as water bottles to school each day. We will send supply lists for each grade by mid-August.
• The school buildings will remain closed to all but students, employees, and other essential personnel. Parents should stay in their cars at drop off and pick up and only come into school buildings when they have an appointment.
• Since space on Hill buses will be limited, we are asking parents to only sign up for bus service if it is absolutely necessary in order to have their children at school. Please contact Kelly Johnson if you have any questions or suggestions about the bus program.
We are continuing to work on other aspects of Hill’s operation before school begins this fall. These include:
• Cleaning routines. We are reviewing the products we use and the frequency of our cleaning and disinfecting routines– what we do during the day and every evening.
• Developing our protocols, in consultation with the Loudoun County Health Department, in the event that a member of the school community or someone in their household contracts COVID-19.
• Hybrid options which would allow Hill students to maintain connections with their class and to continue learning essential material in the event that they are not physically present at school.
We have offered three camps so far this month, which were generally well received, gave us an opportunity to put some of the guidelines we are planning for the fall into practice, and have helped us be better prepared for the start of school.
We will offer five camps in August, which you can learn about and register for on the Summer Programs link of the Hill School website. Please contact the Camp Director or Sarah Kuehn in the Business Office if you have questions about the camps.
Many of you may have questions that we haven’t addressed in this memo or would like more information. Although we still don’t have all the answers, please let me or a member of the administrative team know if you do have questions, or suggestions, for us as we refine our plans for how Hill will operate this fall. We will send out another update with more details about how the school will be operating by mid-August.
If you are concerned about having your child(ren) return to Hill in person this fall, please let us know right away. We are committed to doing all we can to serve our families, however we do need to know whom to expect in each grade as we plan for the start of the school year.
While many of the usual hallmarks of a student’s experience at Hill will be different this fall, we are working on ways to take advantage of this structure to offer new opportunities and to keep the distinctive Hill School experience and spirit alive and well.
Thank you for your support, flexibility, feedback, and partnership as we figure out how best to navigate these new waters, a journey that is challenging and important.
Dear Parents, Faculty, and Staff,
I am following up my July 20th email with more information about what we are doing to prepare for “Back-to-Hill.” We continue to look to the Commonwealth of Virginia (including Loudoun County) and the Centers for Disease Control for guidance as to structuring school.
While there is significant uncertainty and anxiety about so much in the world, I am confident that we will be able to offer a robust, engaging experience for our students thanks to the commitment, talent, and ability of the faculty and the flexibility, support, and partnership of our parents. We should also note how fortunate we are to have the land, buildings, and faculty:student ratios that allow us to structure school in ways that few schools can.
While we need to be flexible given the rapidly changing landscape of information and circumstances, we also need to provide clarity about what to expect when school starts this fall. Toward that end, here is an update on our current plans for the start of school.
Each section (two per grade; one in JK) will have a dedicated homeroom exclusively for their use. The faculty is developing these sections with a number of considerations in mind including balancing the groups, academic profiles, social factors, siblings, and individual considerations. We have received a number of parent requests and all of these will be considered, but we cannot guarantee that requests will be met.
We plan to have a staggered start to the school year. Typically all students return on Thursday for a full day and we have a noon dismissal for everyone on Friday. This year, we plan to have all students in “section one” return on Thursday and all “section two” students attend on Friday. Section assignments and dismissal time by grade for these two days will be finalized and sent to you soon. All faculty and staff will be working both days. This structure will allow us to observe, problem solve, and reflect, so that we will be even better prepared to have all students on campus Monday, September 14. We also believe that this staggered structure will allow us to welcome and orient students much more effectively and to provide all students the opportunity to learn our new procedures.
In addition to their homerooms, each section will also be assigned an exclusive bathroom and a primary exterior entrance. The faculty is working on a plan for how to use outdoor spaces as effectively and efficiently as possible, since we want to be outdoors as much as we can.
We are establishing a number of protocols to help keep individuals (students, faculty, and staff) as healthy as possible.
1. Each of us (student, faculty, and staff) should provide a negative COVID-19 test to Silvia Fleming, Assistant to the Head of School, no later than September 9th to start school. Please get started on this right away, as it can take some time to get an appointment and results. Although there is no way to guarantee that the virus will not find its way into our community, this will be a helpful screen.
2. We will be using an app, ParentSquare, which is a component of our new school wide software package, BigSIS. Through this app, we will be designing a simple daily health screening survey, which each of us (parents, faculty, and staff) must complete every morning before coming to campus. The app will provide immediate feedback indicating that an individual is cleared to attend school that day. This is a relatively simple process and will help us keep the drop off circles running as smoothly as possible. We will send an update to everyone when the app is available for download.
3. Everyone (students, faculty, and staff) will be required to wear a mask while indoors; a mask should also be worn outdoors when unable to maintain at least six feet of social distance. Masks should also be worn during all transitions, including at the drop-off and dismissal circles. Exceptions will be made for eating and when working alone in an office or classroom.
4. Students and teachers will generally not be sharing materials. See the linked materials for more information on what children will need to bring to school.
We have expanded the scope of work for our cleaning crew to include additional disinfecting in classrooms, offices, and bathrooms each night. We are also adding a staff position to circulate through the campus during the day disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.
We are installing air scrubbers on many of our HVAC units which use an oxidation process to purify the air (the same technology used on the Space Station), and we are treating classrooms, offices, and the playground with a product which will make it difficult for viruses, including the Coronavirus, to survive.
In The Event
In the event that there is a case of COVID-19, the affected cohort will quarantine for at least two weeks and attend a virtual synchronous version of their Hill day via Zoom. We will inform the school community about which section has been affected, although we will not identify the individual.
We are in close communication with Dr. David Goodfriend, Director of the Loudoun County Health Department, about how to respond to any cases of COVID-19 and what conditions could lead to a closure of the school.
This is the Virginia Department of Health’s current position in response to the questions “What will the school do if a person with COVID-19 is identified? Will it close?”
The LHD will work with the school to review measures in place to limit the spread of disease and may recommend additional measures or modifications to current activities. Depending on the additional information provided, such measures might include increased cleaning, temporary closure of certain classrooms or areas, and possibly temporary closure of the school building.
Closure might be recommended if students or staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have symptoms of COVID-19 are identified in multiple groups, grades, or classes throughout the school. If school building closure is recommended, the recommended time frame for suspension of school operations is 14 days. After 14 days have passed, the school building could reopen for children and staff who have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and who have not had recent close contact with someone with COVID-19.
We have purchased a significant amount of additional technology hardware this summer to support our Program for the coming year. This includes expanded Wi-Fi coverage, additional classroom projectors, and many additional Chromebooks. Students are encouraged to bring their own Chromebooks/laptops as well.
While I hope this email and the links below are informative, you may have other questions. Please call or email me or a member of the Administrative Team with any questions you have.
• FAQs from Parents
• An updated 4-8 “Back-to-Hill” Dress Code
• School Supplies JK-3 and 6-8
• 4th Grade Supplies 2020
• 5th Grade Supplies 2020
The Faculty and Staff are working hard to prepare for the start of school next month. This takes an exceptional amount of energy and time, so please join me in thanking them. We are fortunate to have a group that is so committed and conscientious and genuinely cares about the healthy development of the students.
Thank you for your support,
Greetings from Hill School,
I hope that your children are looking forward to the start of school next week. Please read this information-dense email carefully, and let us know if you have any questions.
I want to especially thank the Faculty and Staff who have been in meetings, both via Zoom and on campus, all this week (formal opening meetings don’t usually begin until after Labor Day) preparing for the start of school. Their energy, engagement, and willingness to work together to make Back to Hill work as well as possible for our students has been above and beyond the call of duty.
You will receive an email from the Homeroom teachers this Friday afternoon with section lists for your child(ren). Please note that Junior Kindergarten and all “1” sections (e.g. 1-1, 3-1, 7-1) will have their first day of school on Thursday, September 10th and all “2” sections (e.g. 1-2, 3-2, 7-2) will have their first day of school on Friday, September 11th.
Monday, September 14th will be the second day of school for all students.
We have dedicated a portion of the website to information about how Hill will be operating this year, including emails from the school, supply lists, dress code, and Parent FAQ’s. We hope this will be a convenient centralized resource for families.
Back to School: Part I
We will have “Back to School Night: Part I” on Tuesday, September 8th. The evening will begin with a full school (all parents, faculty, and staff) Zoom at 6:00pm for about 20 minutes and then we will Zoom into Homerooms by grade.
These Zooms will be a chance to meet the teachers, learn more about how individual homerooms will be structured, and help get everyone ready for the first day of school (either Thursday or Friday, depending on section).
We expect the Night to be over by 7pm.
Day One Schedule
Students should arrive at their drop off circle between 8:10 and 8:30. Details about which circle to use are in the linked FAQ’s.
Drop off during the first few days of school is always especially busy so please be patient in the circles. Students should only exit the car on the “curb side” and parents should remain in the car. Students should proceed directly to their designated entrance and then to their homeroom. We will share these details with each grade during Back-to-School Night, Part I. The faculty and staff will only be opening car doors when needed (e.g. for young children who can’t open them from the inside themselves).
Be sure to have your children bring their food for the day including snacks, lunch, water bottles, and any necessary culinary materials. (Keeping in mind that microwaves, hot water, milk, utensils, and paper plates will NOT be available). We will have lunch both Thursday and Friday.
Dismissal for all students on Day One will be 1pm. Details on which circle to use are also in the linked FAQ’s.
Please display a card on the passenger side sunvisor with your family’s last name so the dismissal staff knows whom to call to the circle when you arrive. You may use cards from last year (Kelly is providing new families with one of these) or make your own.
Healthy School Environment
Remember that all students, faculty, and staff are required to submit a negative Covid test to Silvia before the first day of school. This test needs to be negative for the live COVID-19 virus, not an antibody test.
We were pleasantly surprised to learn during our summer camps that even young children took to wearing masks much more easily than we expected. We also learned that it is important to give children direct instruction in how to wear their masks and the value of children having at least two (three for the younger students) masks each day as they can quickly become wet or soiled.
Please be sure that children come to school with enough masks and review these guidelines from the CDC for how to wear, clean, store, and treat masks with your children.
ParentSquare is the app that we will be using to complete a medical screening each morning before students, faculty, and staff arrive on campus. You will receive an email Friday afternoon with a link that will allow you to create your ParentSquare account. Once you have done this, you should download the app to your mobile device.
This app, which is linked to our new school wide data system BigSIS, will be used increasingly in the weeks and months ahead to facilitate communication between the school and parents, but for now we are only using it to complete the Daily COVID Health Screening Form each day before school (anytime after 5 am). You should see the link to this Form on the bottom of the ParentSquare app homepage once you sign in.
Thanks to Sarah Kuehn and Lisa Patterson for all their work, as well as Silvia Fleming and Kelly Johnson, in moving Hill to a fully virtual registration process this summer. So far, it has gone very smoothly. Please complete registration before this weekend.
We will be closing the Campus Road to through traffic during the school day (from 8:30 on) beginning next week since so many children will be on the grounds during the day. The Main Circle, the Lower School Entrance Circle and the parking areas adjacent to these Circles will remain open. The Art Building Circle and its parking areas (a.k.a. WestPark) will be accessible from the Plains Road. As always, slow down, don’t talk on your phone, and be especially vigilant while driving on campus.
Please remember that the buildings remain closed except for essential personal (including faculty, staff, and students) and guests with appointments.
Children and teachers usually feel a combination of anxiety and excitement at the prospect of a new school year, and this is especially true this year. While we all wonder what exactly the year will be like, I feel the same way as the student who wrote me last week that, “Hill School is a very special place…no matter what our school year will look like, being on campus and being with the friends and teachers I love will make it much easier. I look forward to starting school.”
I hope all of you and your children feel the same way. I look forward to seeing you on the Back to School Zoom Tuesday.
The first few days of school have gone overwhelmingly well. The students (and faculty!) are adjusting well to the different school protocols and routines, and it is great to have everyone back on campus.
The most significant glitch we have faced so far is the Front Circle backing up onto South Madison Street, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
To address this concern, we are making the Art Circle (the gravel lot near the Gym and Art Building) the primary location for Sixth Grade drop off and pick up. They will be joining the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Graders on this circle.
You should access this circle from The Plains Road entrance. Note that the Campus Road is closed during the school day (from 8:30am until after dismissal) so you can only access the Art Circle from The Plains Road in the afternoon.
We also ask that all families remember the following guidelines to keep all the circles moving as smoothly as possible:
• Complete the Health Monitoring app before leaving your house in the morning. There is a time delay between you submitting the form and us receiving it.
• If you arrive after 8:30am, you should come to the Front Circle and call the front desk to check in.
• Display your family’s last name on a card prominently visible behind the windshield on the passenger side of your car. If you are carpooling, please also display the names of other children in your car or tell the faculty member checking you in at the beginning of the circle.
• If there is more than one student in your car, you should pick up all the students from the circle of the youngest rider.
We will continue to monitor the traffic flow of the circles and make additional adjustments as necessary.
Thank you for your patience, support, and flexibility.
School is off to a great start from our perspective. I hope that your children are feeling the same way. We have certainly been fortunate to have so much wonderful weather during these opening days.
As I mentioned in my last email update, the Main Entrance Circle’s 4:00pm dismissal has created a backup onto South Madison St., which can be a frustration and is a safety concern. Despite the changes we implemented last week, this situation persists.
Please remember that dismissal is scheduled from 4:00pm until 4:20pm. Cars are beginning to line up at about 3:40pm, and by 4:00pm the line is already at South Madison St. Children are generally not ready for dismissal before 4:00pm. The faculty have refined the dismissal procedures very effectively, and so all students are usually picked up by 4:10pm.
Please consider arriving no earlier than 4:00pm and perhaps 5 to 15 minutes later. Spreading the pick up over the full 20 minutes will reduce congestion and should eliminate the line backing up on South Madison St.
We will continue to monitor this situation and make additional modifications and suggestions as necessary.
Thank you for your cooperation and support.
“Back-to-Hill” Dress Code, Grades 4-8 (updated 8/20)
The Hill School dress code has always been meant to ensure that students are dressed appropriately and comfortably for class and for the different activities they perform in the course of the day. During the 2020-21 school year, students will not be able to change into sports uniforms, and no loaner shoes or clothing will be available; therefore, the clothes students wear to school will be the clothes they wear to sports and must be clothes and shoes that they can run and exercise in. Because we plan to hold many classes outside, students should also plan to dress for the weather. For these reasons, the dress code will be somewhat more relaxed than in the past. We hope the following guidelines will be helpful:
1. All clothing should be clean, well-fitting, and in good condition.
2. Shorts should be of school-appropriate length.
3. Socks should be worn.
4. Sports shoes should be worn. All shoes should have backs, closed toes, and laces or velcro.
5. Athletic pants or shorts are acceptable.
6. Shirts need not be tucked in.
7. Leggings may not be worn as pants, though they may be worn under shorts or skirts.
8. Skirts may be worn only over bicycle shorts or leggings. They should be of school-appropriate length.
9. A few items of clothing are not permitted:
a. Bike shorts (except under skirts).
b. Non-Hill School sweatpants (i.e., thick cotton terry pants with a drawstring waist and elastic ankles).
c. Clothing with prominent text, logos (including logos of sports teams and other schools), or camouflage print. Hill School gear is acceptable.
d. Shirts with narrow (less than two inches) shoulder straps.
A student’s teacher may request that other items not be worn at school if they are deemed inappropriate.
FAQs from Parents
How will I register my child for school this year? The registration process will be completed online using the BigSIS platform. You will be receiving an email with directions and materials in the coming days.
What should my child bring to school every day? You should be sure to send your child with a spill-proof water bottle, a snack, and a lunch. We will not be able to share food or provide food to children. The children will eat in homerooms, which will not have microwaves or hot water. Please see the linked list for additional supplies, organized by grade level.
How should my child be dressed for school? Please remember that students should be comfortable and ready for many different activities. Class may be held inside classrooms or outside on the campus, so students should have hats and sunscreen. Students will not use locker rooms or change for sports, so their shoes, pants/shorts, and shirts should allow for physical activity. We are relaxing the 4-8 Dress Code somewhat to allow for these changes, but dress should continue to be modest, appropriate, and without large graphics or writing.
What will be the procedure to drop my child off at school each morning? Each morning, you will need to take your child’s temperature and fill out a health screening checklist before you bring your child to school. You will be able to complete this on an application called Parent Square that the school will make available. When you pull into a drop off circle, you should remain in your car. As a general rule, students in JK, K, 6, and 8 should be dropped off at the Front Circle, grades 1, 2, and 3 at the Lower School Circle (at the top of the hill on South Madison Street), and grades 4, 5, and 7 at the Art Room Circle. Although you may choose to drop multiple children off together, these circles are closest to the students’ designated entrances to their classrooms.
What should I do if I need to bring my child food or materials during the day? Please make every effort to send your child fully prepared each day. If you do need to bring materials, call the school when you arrive and a staff member will meet you in the Front Circle to pick up the materials and will deliver them to the child.
Will my child have a dedicated device at school? We are planning to provide each child in grades 3-8 who needs it with a Chromebook. However, it will be helpful if children who have personal devices use them at school. If your child is able to bring their own laptop or chromebook to school, please let Lisa Woods know as soon as possible.
What should I do if I need to drop my child off late or pick him/her up early? Anytime you need to drop-off or pick-up your child at a different time than usual, you should alert the homeroom teacher and the front desk. When you drop-off, your child should come to the front desk to check in before going to their homeroom. We ask that everyone be as prompt as possible. When you pick-up early, please call the front desk from the Front Circle. Your child should check out at the desk, then come out to your car.
How will dismissal / pick-up work? Students in JK will be dismissed from the Front Circle at 12:00, K at 2:00, grades 1 and 2 at 3:00. Limited after-care will be available for students in these grades who need to stay to take the 4:00 bus or to wait for older siblings to be dismissed, although we ask that this service be used only by those who truly need it. At 4:00, all bus riders should report to the Lower School Circle. Anyone picking up students in grades JK-3, 6, or 8 should come to the Front Circle. Students in grades 4, 5, and 7 will be dismissed from the Art Room Circle, unless they are being picked up with a younger sibling. In that case, they will be dismissed from the Front Circle as well. Students will wait in their homerooms, and when their car arrives, they will be sent to the appropriate circle. We ask you to display a sign on the passenger sun visor with your family name to help us expedite the dismissal process.
Should my child plan to attend study halls or after school activities? Until further notice, we are not offering study halls or after school activities. Upper school students will have study hall time during the school day. Students should be picked up at their grade’s dismissal time unless they are staying to ride the bus or to wait for an older sibling’s dismissal time.
Will my child be able to walk to town after school? We will not be allowing groups of students to walk to town at the end of the day. If your child needs to walk to town for a particular reason (e.g. walking home or to a parent’s office), please contact the front desk to arrange for an exception.
What should I do if my child feels sick at home? If your child or anyone in your family shows any of the symptoms of COVID-19, please do not send the student to school. Please consult your doctor about testing or next steps and be sure to communicate with the school.
What happens if my child feels sick at school? If your child appears ill, you will be notified and asked to pick-up as soon as possible. Any ill child will be separated from the group until a parent or guardian can pick-up.