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.
I hope that you enjoyed the fall weekend, and that Parent-Teacher conferences were helpful and productive. As we begin the second half of the fall trimester, I want to preview the school calendar and share a couple of updates in preparation for the next two months of school.
Hill School will celebrate Halloween on Friday, October 30th. All students, faculty, and staff are allowed and encouraged to wear costumes that day. Details around costume guidelines and any other special Halloween plans will be communicated to you by the Homeroom teachers. Since there will not be the traditional full school assembly/parade, haunted house, or multi-grade parties that afternoon, school will be dismissed at 1pm that day (students should bring a lunch).
Please remember that the fall Teacher Work Day (no school for students) will be Wednesday, November 11th.
We are going to extend this year’s Thanksgiving Break to be the full week of November 22nd. We will hold our traditional Thanksgiving Assembly on Friday, November 20th via Zoom (watch Take Note for details — all parents, family, friends, and alumni are welcome to attend) and return to school on Monday, November 30th. This is primarily to give the faculty and staff a respite in appreciation of all the time and work they have been putting into keeping Hill’s program vibrant despite the challenges of COVID.
While Thanksgiving is an opportunity to take a break from our daily routines and appreciate all that we are fortunate to have, including family and friends, please take every reasonable precaution to minimize exposure to and transmission of COVID during this break. It has been great to have the students on campus for in-person learning this fall, and we all need to continue to do what we can to minimize the possibility of COVID impacting Hill’s program.
Our goal is to maintain an in-person program for all of our students this year. The best way to keep people at Hill is to keep COVID off campus. Therefore, please follow the “better safe than sorry” wisdom when making decisions about how social to be and when to stay home.
All of you have become familiar with the ParentSquare app through the Daily Health Screening. We will be adding components to this app in the coming weeks including the school calendar, Take Note, and an electronic school directory. Watch Take Note for announcements as we add these features.
Finally, a couple of exciting community announcements. Congratulations to faculty member Stephen Price and his wife Sami, who are expecting their first child in April; and to Harrison Schroder, middle school science teacher, and Sarah Kuehn, our Business Manager, who were married this weekend.
Thank you for your partnership and for your support of Hill School.
I hope that you and your families had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving and are looking forward to the next three weeks of school and the coming holiday season.
As you are no doubt aware, COVID numbers are on the rise in northern Virginia and throughout the country. I suspect that we are beginning what may be the most difficult time to keep Hill’s program in person.
Please do all you can to prevent COVID from infiltrating the Hill School community by wearing masks, washing hands, following all guidance from the CDC and the State of Virginia and–perhaps most importantly–limiting exposure to people outside your household (i.e. keeping a minimum of six feet of distance from others and eliminating all non-essential social interactions). Although the prospects of an effective vaccine coming to market are encouraging, please continue to be diligent, especially as we enter the winter months.
Emily Tyler, who is our morning front desk receptionist and helps with Afternoon Junior Kindergarten will be out for the next two weeks, because she had “close contact” with someone who tested positive last week. This is in keeping with our protocols and is done through an abundance of caution. Emily is feeling well and showing no symptoms at this time. She has scheduled a COVID test for this week (five days from the time of her “close contact”). The office staff is covering the front desk, and Kathryn Whitehead, Hill ‘13, is helping Ms. Fedorchak with the JK during the afternoons while Emily is out.
We will inform you via email in the event that a member of the Hill community (faculty, staff, or student) tests positive for COVID. In the case of a student testing positive, that student’s section will shift to a virtual program for at least two weeks. The consequences of an employee testing positive will vary depending on that person’s role and any “close contact” they have had with others.
It is the prospect of people being in “close contact” with others that poses the biggest threat to Hill’s ability to continue to operate our program on campus. Please take every reasonable step so that if any of us are asked by the State during contact tracing if we have been in “close contact” with someone outside our household, we can answer “no.”
Unfortunately we have had to cancel Ski Fridays for 2021 due to the importance of limiting exposure of students to children in other sections. Typically, we would dismiss at noon on Ski Fridays and have a full day of skiing in February for Mini Olympics. This year, we will extend the school day to include lunch and dismiss at 1:00 each of these Fridays (January 8-February 12). We will return to 3pm Friday dismissals as usual on February 19.
Please note that January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will be a Faculty Work Day and so there will be no school for students that day. February 15, Presidents’ Day, will be a school holiday unless we have had three or more snow days by that time, in which case it will be a regular school day.
We will have a Holiday Program on Friday, December 18 via Zoom, which will be open to all parents, alumni, grandparents, and friends. The Program will begin at 11am, and we will dismiss for Winter Break at noon that day. Watch Take Note for more details about the Holiday Program.
Also, please watch for communication from the Homeroom teachers regarding outerwear and any other supplies or materials the children will need as the weather gets increasingly colder in the coming weeks and months.
Finally, we have expanded the functionality of ParentSquare, which we have been using for our daily health screenings. You can now access Take Note, the School Calendar, and the School Directory (names & emails on the ParentSquare app; addresses and phone numbers through the ParentSquare website). We expect that this will be a helpful convenience for many of you.
It was great to have the children back on campus this week. Their energy is infectious in the best way!
Thank you all for your support, understanding, and flexibility as we work to provide the best educational experience we can for the children during what is undeniably an unforgettable year.
As we look forward to the final week of school before our Winter Break, I want to thank everyone for helping keep Hill in person this fall. The past thirteen weeks have gone better than we could have expected in early September. Although this is in part due to good fortune, it is also the result of intentional choices, thoughtful decisions, and meaningful efforts from all of us.
First and foremost, thanks to the faculty and staff for your flexibility, work ethic, and willingness to adapt to teaching under new and often challenging circumstances. Despite the challenges presented by COVID, and the anxiety and pressure that came with these, the faculty and staff have risen to the occasion with professionalism and energy, motivated by the genuine desire to do the best thing for the children. Well done.
I also want to thank the parents for your flexibility, support, and appreciation. Notes and comments to the faculty and staff buoy our morale and help us maintain our energy, focus, and optimism. Thank you.
Also thanks to the many families who “erred on the safe side” and chose to keep their children home when there was even a mild suspicion of them being exposed to COVID, even when not required, to reduce the chances of bringing COVID to campus.
A LOOK AHEAD
As you know, the prevalence of COVID in our nation, our state, and our county is increasing, and the odds of any one of us coming into contact with someone who is positive will probably be greater during the coming weeks than it has ever been.
While we don’t have complete control over our environment, there is a lot we can do to reduce the likelihood of coming into contact with the virus AND to limit the impact on the Hill community in the event that one of us does test positive:
• Follow all recommendations of the VDH and CDC regarding masks, hygiene, social distance, and travel
• Be diligent about limiting social interactions with people outside our household
• Eliminate all “close contact” with people not in our household
These behaviors are all within our control, and they will maximize our ability to have Hill continue to operate in person.
REQUIRED COVID TESTING
We are requiring a negative COVID diagnostic test from each student and member of the faculty and staff before returning to campus in January. These tests should be completed no earlier than Monday, December 28th, and the results must be submitted to Silvia. Please make plans for COVID testing now, as there is just one week from December 28 to January 4. Please contact Sarah Kuehn in the Business Office if the expense of this test is a financial hardship for your family.
Everyone has to decide which diagnostic test is best for them and their children depending on their doctor’s advice, insurance considerations, family schedules, etc. In addition to other options you may have for COVID testing, I offer these for your consideration:
• Loop Wellness Clinic in Leesburg is owned by a Hill family and provides test results in about 15 minutes
• Patient First has many clinics in the area which offer COVID diagnostic testing
• Vault Health offers an at-home mail-in saliva based test with a reasonable turn-around time
COVID testing is just one of many screens in our effort to keep COVID off campus. Especially because it represents just one point in time, we should not relax any of our other practices, even when we receive a negative test.
Thank you for all you do to support The Hill School’s culture and program.
I wish you and your family a relaxing and restorative Winter Break.
I hope that you and your families are enjoying a relaxing and restorative Winter Break.
As you know, all faculty, staff, and students are required to submit a negative COVID test, dated no earlier than December 28th, to Silvia Fleming before returning to campus. So far this week, we have the results from 25 students and 14 faculty or staff, with no positive cases.
Please remember that all faculty, staff, and students also need to resume submitting the Daily Health Screening through the ParentSquare app each morning before coming to school beginning Monday, January 4th.
Any member of the school community (student, faculty, or staff member) who tests positive will be required to remain off campus for 10 days and be symptom free for 48 hours before returning.
Please also be mindful of “close contact” with people outside your household (defined as being within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes during the previous 48 hours). Any student, faculty, or staff member who has “close contact” with someone who is, or is suspected to be, positive for COVID must remain off campus for 14 days from that contact. This underscores the importance of maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others.
We will work with families to keep students who are not on campus current with their school work. We will also keep any absent faculty members as engaged with their classes as possible via Zoom and other avenues.
The coming weeks and months will likely be the most challenging time to keep COVID from impacting our program. While we all need to be flexible and recognize that there are factors outside of our control, please do all that you can (especially maintaining six feet of distance from others and eliminating unnecessary social interactions) to help us provide as normal a program as possible for our students.
Please err on the cautious side. If you have any reason to suspect that anyone in your immediate family might have been exposed to COVID during the Break (e.g. haven’t been diligently following CDC guidelines regarding travel, hand washing, and mask wearing, etc.) then please keep your children out of school until you can be relatively confident that they have not been exposed to COVID. Having a student miss a few days of school is much better than causing an entire section to be virtual for two weeks.
We will let you know as soon as possible if there are any changes to the program (e.g. if either a section or a teacher needs to go virtual). We will also update you of any positive cases among the faculty, staff, or student body.
While the coming weeks and months will no doubt present unique challenges and will require continued diligence, flexibility, and discipline, I expect that in twelve months, we will remember 2021 as a return to normalcy.
Thank you for your support. All best wishes for the New Year!
Happy New Year! I hope that you and your families are enjoying the start of the New Year.
So far, we have COVID test results from nearly all faculty and staff and many students. As of today, one student (a Kindergartener) has tested positive. That student, as well as any others who receive positive tests and any Hill School siblings of those students, will be off campus until their isolation period is complete.
Remember that Silvia Fleming needs a negative COVID test for each student, teacher, and staff member before they return to campus. Also that we all need to complete the ParentSquare Daily Health Screening app before arriving on campus each day beginning Monday.
Two members of the faculty have had “close contact” with someone who has tested positive, and so those teachers will be off campus for at least the first week of school.
Doug Hart, our lead 4th grade teacher, and Susan McCaskey, our lower school science teacher, both had close contact with family members who tested positive during the Break. As a result, they will each be off campus for 14 days from their contacts. During that time, their classes will be proctored by a member of the Hill faculty, while they teach, as much as possible, via Zoom.
In addition, two members of the faculty have tested positive–Cate Donohoe, one of our Kindergarten teachers, and Lisa Woods, one of our math teachers. They will each be off campus for at least ten days from their test date.
Provided they both remain healthy, Cate and Lisa will continue to teach their classes via Zoom as much as possible. Members of the faculty will be covering Lisa’s classes, and Susan Price will be covering Cate’s Kindergarten section. Susan taught Kindergarten and first grade at Hill School from 2002 until she retired last spring. We are delighted that Susan will be back at Hill while Cate is remote.
We will notify you as soon as possible if any other students or members of the faculty or staff receive positive tests, or if we need to make any additional program modifications.
I want to thank Silvia for the time and work she has put into these coverage plans and into tracking all the COVID test results from the faculty, staff, and students during the past few days.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone that Hill School will be dismissing at 1:00 each Friday, from January 8th until February 12th.
Please let me know if you have any questions. We look forward to having the students back on campus Monday!
I hope that the first week of the new year has gone well for you and your families. I am writing with updates since my email last weekend.
As of today, we have COVID test results from all faculty and staff and all but seven families. These seven families have each been in touch with us and will submit negative tests before their children return to campus.
One student this week tested positive (in addition to the Kindergarten student from last week). This student, a 5th grader, has not been on campus since before the Break. This student, as well as any others who receive positive tests and any Hill School siblings of those students, will be off campus until their isolation period is complete.
As a reminder, our guidelines require anyone (adult or child) who tests positive to isolate for 10 days from their positive test. In the event that any one of us has “close contact” with someone who tests positive, we need to isolate for 14 days from that contact. In any case, we must be symptom free for 48 hours before we can return to campus.
With that in mind, we expect faculty members Cate Donohoe, Doug Hart, and Lisa Woods to return to campus on Monday, provided they remain symptom free over the weekend. At this point, we expect Susan McCaskey to return on Tuesday, January 19th.
We are fortunate that so few members of the Hill campus community (faculty, staff, and students) have tested positive returning from Winter Break. Thank you for the efforts so many of you and your families are making to reduce the likelihood of COVID impacting our program.
Each day this week we have been notified of people (both adults and children) who have had close contact with someone who tested positive. In every case, these individuals have immediately left campus, but this highlights the fact that there are more positive cases of COVID in our immediate community than ever before.
Please take all reasonable steps, especially eliminating unnecessary contact with people outside your household, to help keep Hill School operating in person. The coming weeks will be the most important to be as diligent as possible.
I hope that you and your families are enjoying the winter weather. I am writing with a few updates for the coming month.
Monday, February 15th, which is Presidents’ Day, will be a school holiday. Most years, this is a school day when we have had three or more snow days. Although we have had three snow days so far this year, (two in December and one in January) we have elected to keep this three day weekend in recognition of how hard the faculty and staff have been working and to give them and the students a well deserved mid winter respite.
Thanks to everyone who voted for Hill as the Best Private School in Loudoun County again this year! Although we aren’t allowed to reveal the results of the first round, voting for the “finals” will begin when the Top 5 are announced on March 12.
Hill’s faculty and staff have received the first dose of the COVID vaccine and most of us will receive the second dose by the end of next week. While this gives us peace of mind and helps keep us healthy, we are not changing any of our COVID protocols or guidelines.
Finally, remember that we will be returning to the usual 3pm dismissal time on Fridays beginning next week on February 19th.
Dear Hill School Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Trustees,
I hope that you are all looking forward to Spring Break beginning next Friday at noon.
Faculty and Staff Vaccinations
I am pleased to inform you that nearly all of the faculty and staff have received both doses of a COVID vaccine. Although this makes it unlikely that Hill employees will get sick with COVID, we are not relaxing any of our protocols. The school’s in-person program is still vulnerable because of the guideline that any member of the campus community (faculty, staff, or student) must isolate for 14 days in the event that they have “close contact” with anyone who is positive for COVID.
Therefore, we are asking that everyone continue to follow best practices as determined by the CDC (wearing masks, washing hands regularly, and especially limiting contact with people outside your household) in order to maximize the odds of us being able to continue to offer an in-person educational experience for all of our students.
Spring Break COVID Testing
We will require all members of the campus community (faculty, staff, and students regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated) to provide a negative COVID test before returning to campus after Spring Break. This test should be completed no earlier than Monday, March 22nd. Results should be sent to Silvia Fleming. Please contact Sarah Kuehn in the Business Office if the expense of this test is a financial hardship for your family.
In the event that your family is more likely to be exposed to COVID over Spring Break (e.g. socializing with people outside your household), please consider scheduling a later COVID test, even if it means your child may miss a few days of school. Keep in mind that in the event that a student tests positive (while at school), our protocols require that student’s entire cohort to remain off campus for 14 days.
Everyone has to decide which diagnostic test is best for them and their children depending on their doctor’s advice, insurance considerations, family schedules, etc. In addition to other options you may have for COVID testing, I offer these for your consideration:
- Loop Wellness Clinic in Leesburg is owned by a Hill family and provides test results in about 15 minutes
- Patient First has many clinics in the area which offer COVID diagnostic testing and accept insurance
- Vault Health offers an at-home mail-in saliva based test with a reasonable turn-around time
We all wonder how COVID will affect Hill’s operation in the weeks and months ahead. Although little is certain, we can be reasonably confident of a few things:
- We expect to be in our current mode through the end of the school year.
- We are offering a variety of camps this summer.
- We will continue to follow CDC and Virginia state guidelines as much as possible when structuring our program for next year. While we expect to be essentially “back to normal” by this time next year, we probably won’t know the specifics of our protocols for the start of school until August.
Best wishes for a productive, restful Spring Break.
“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.