Serving Preschool Through 8th Grade in the San Francisco East Bay Since 1962

Jaguar Junction

The Seven Hills School began the 2020-2021 school year with distance learning for every grade, K-8. Our ECE program (preschool and pre-kindergarten) has been in person since August 31, 2020.

On October 19 (after Contra Costa County had remained in the red tier for two weeks) Seven Hills began to reunite its K-8 program on-campus, with families having the option to tune in from home. We were so excited to welcome back our students and families to campus!

This Summer 2021, we will continue to refine our models, guided by our obligation to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff; our educational mission; and our values of kindness, inclusion, and care. Look for our updated COVID-19 Safety Plan to follow in August 2021.

Thank you for your support during this past year and for your goodwill and confidence as we move forward.

COVID-19 Operations and Safety Plan

List of 16 frequently asked questions.

  • Introduction to Reopening

    As our school community navigates the complexities associated with COVID-19, The Seven Hills School remains committed to an educational program that is anchored in our school’s Mission, Seven Beliefs for Seven Hills, and Strategic Plan. This waiver application outlines Seven Hills’ re-entry protocols and procedures that prioritize the health and safety of our community, allows for flexibility and transparency, and aims to exceed guidelines established by the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the County Health Department as well as the CDC.

    The response to an infectious disease outbreak such as COVID-19 is a collective, community approach, and successful risk management for everyone in our extended community will require a partnership between families and school. This includes a mutual understanding of our personal behaviors both on and away from campus. The way that our community will successfully navigate this crisis is by adhering to all local guidelines, including but not limited to, social distancing of at least six feet, wearing multilayer cloth masks, and self-monitoring for symptoms. It also requires that families, as well as employees, share information about their travel and possible exposure. Seven Hills will continue to update you as we remain in close contact with local and regional public health experts listed below. 

    Contra Costa County Office of Education Reopening Guidance Document

    CA Dept of Education Coronavirus Response and School Reopening Guidance

    Contra Costa Health Services Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Joffe Emergency Services, an organization that has been a leader in safety and emergency preparedness both in the independent school sector and in other businesses

    As we all—administrators, faculty, staff, parents, and students—work hard to make these adjustments to our personal, professional, and academic lives, it is comforting to know that we can rely on each other. The mission of Seven Hills, our core values, and our belief in the value of an in-person education when done safely, will guide our decisions. Trust, respect, and resilience have served the Seven Hills community in the past, and they will serve us now. We may not know exactly what this coming school year will bring, but we know whatever the circumstances, we will emerge together, stronger than ever.
  • Guiding Principles During the Pandemic

    As our school community navigates the complexities associated with COVID-19, Seven Hills remains committed to an educational program that is anchored in:

    • Local, regional and national data that inform how we manage health risks for our students, employees, and families
    • A Seven Hills whole child educational experience, that always considers the emotional well-being of all constituents, while delivering our program as safely and effectively as possible 
    • The belief that children belong in school, with their health and safety as the top priorities
    • Prioritization of on-campus time for our youngest learners
    • Realistic and sustainable expectations for our faculty, staff, and administration that prioritize their health
    • Partnership with our families as they strive to balance school, work, and family life
    • Commitment to reassess and adjust our approach and practices—both for risk management and student learning—based on new information as it becomes available
    • Guidance from public health and government authorities
    • Regular and frequent communication to ensure that students, parents, and staff receive timely and accurate information
    • Patience and perspective by all community members as we manage developments on campus, including, but not limited to symptom screening, quarantine, and contact tracing when necessary.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection

    Seven Hills has expanded its cleaning and custodial teams to achieve enhanced and rigorous cleaning procedures. Trained cleaning staff will focus on frequent sanitizing of high-touch surfaces and spaces after use: high-touch areas every two hours, medium-touch areas twice daily, and all other areas each evening. Frequently touched surfaces in the school include, but are not limited to, door handles; light switches; sink handles; bathroom surfaces; tables; student desks; and chairs. 

    Soft furnishings including bean bags, area rugs, cushions, stuffed animals, etc. have been stored and replaced with furniture that can be easily sanitized.

    Each classroom will be provided with safe and effective cleaning (disinfecting solution or wipes) supplies to sanitize surfaces and high-touch areas throughout the day. The faculty, staff, and facilities crew will clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces and objects the employee comes into contact with, including, but not limited to, in office workspaces, break rooms, copy rooms, restrooms, and communal areas.

    Students will have individual and personalized kits with learning materials, books, art supplies, and will not share any materials or supplies. Playground equipment will rotate between cohorts on a weekly basis, with daily cleaning and sanitizing, and then a deep clean before a new group uses it the following week. The School will use safe and effective disinfecting solutions between uses.

    Whenever possible, windows and interior doors in classrooms and offices will remain open for fresh air circulation, and to reduce students and staff touching doorknobs. If poor air quality dictates that doors and windows need to be closed, we have added MERV-13 rated air filters to our HVAC systems, as recommended by the CDC. In addition, every classroom will be equipped with a portable HEPA air purification device to be used in conjunction with the practice of opening windows to maximize clean, fresh air throughout the room.
  • Cohorting

    • To eliminate intermingling among large groups of students, each grade level has been split into stable cohorts, based on square footage, enrollment, proximate outdoor spaces, and assigned bathroom use.
    • Each cohort will be assigned two exclusive-use spaces, including a designated classroom and corollary outdoor teaching space, to provide appropriate levels of social distancing for each cohort and in each space.
    • ECE (Rainbow and Red Barn) classrooms will have two “bubbles” or cohorts in each classroom, with two teachers staying with the same students throughout the day.
    • Lower School (K-5) classes will be divided into three cohorts of approximately 9-13 students each, with teachers traveling between the cohorts, instead of students moving from classroom to classroom.
    • Middle School (6-8) grades will also have three cohorts of 10-17 students each, with pull-outs for math differentiation, world language, and student support.
    • Students will have their own exclusive indoor and outdoor spaces for classes, recess, and lunch, thus eliminating contact between cohorts.
    • All typical cross-grade level activities such as assemblies, advisories, lunch, recess, buddies, electives, and athletics will be curtailed to a specific cohort activity that can be conducted virtually (e.g. buddies connecting with each other virtually through technology).
    • Seven Hills’ lunch partner, Epicurean Group, has rolled out an app-based system for pre-ordering boxed lunch. Lunches will be delivered to each cohort in sealed containers with each student’s name. Snacks will be delivered weekly to each cohort space.
  • Entrance, Egress, and Movement Within the School

    Since students will have their own exclusive indoor and outdoor spaces, there will not be close contact or mixing of the cohorts. Recess, PE, outdoor, and passing times will be staggered to prevent mixing of cohorts. When multiple cohorts are outdoors at the same time, plenty of physical distancing will ensure that each cohort has ample room to play and move within their cohort. Seven Hills does not have any indoor hallways in grades ECE-5 for student or staff movement.

    As part of restricting the total density of people on campus, and prioritizing on-campus learning for our students, non-essential visitors are not allowed on campus. Parents and other visitors are asked to remain offsite, except for the carline during pick-up and drop-off:

    • Lower School drop-off and pick-up will take place in cohort-specific locations along the carline loop. Adults should stay in their cars during drop-off and pick-up, and students will be required to maintain physical distancing of six feet from others when entering and exiting the school.
    • Middle School drop-off may be outside of the school gates.
    • Adequate staff at the pick-up time will ensure physical distancing is adhered to as students are waiting. This pick-up procedure will detour parents from coming onto the campus after school.
    • Because after-school Extended Day would require the mixing of cohorts, we will not be able to offer afternoon childcare on campus after 2:55pm.
    Students will walk on the route designated for their cohort to their classroom, by following their cohort’s “paw print trail.” Only staff members will be allowed into classrooms. The Administration building will only be accessible to employees only; the front door will remain locked. No visitors or students may enter the main administration building.Signage related to COVID safety, directional traffic flow, will be visible around campus.
  • Face Coverings and Other Essential Protective Gear

    Masks are required at all times for both students and employees on the Seven Hills campus, except when working alone inside an individual office/classroom or when actively eating or drinking. While families are asked to provide masks for their children, the School will maintain a supply of disposable masks should they be needed. Parents should plan to send their student to school with at least two masks daily, so that the first mask can be swapped after lunch or if it becomes dirty.

    We realize that for some students, required masks may be challenging. We recommend that families work with their children over the summer to find what works best. Source: CDC guidance on face coverings for children.

    Mask recommendations: 

    • Masks should fit snugly on the face while covering both the nose and mouth.
    • Surgical masks may be used, but fabric masks are encouraged.
    • Bandanas and neck gaiters are not acceptable options as masks.
    • N95 masks are not recommended for general use on campus.
    • Masks with valves attached to them are not permitted, as the valves increase the number of respiratory droplets released into the air.
    • Masks should align with our current dress code ethic of “not being a distraction or displaying any offensive or hurtful messages.”
    Additional enhanced PPE may be required for other employees (e.g., health coordinator, people at higher risk for illness, cleaning staff, etc.). Clear face guards may be used, but not as a substitute for masks. Gloves are not recommended for use by students or staff, except for those conducting duties such as cleaning, providing first aid, or food service.
  • Health Screenings for Student and Staff

    Health and Symptom Screenings
    Seven Hills has instituted a stricter policy regarding illness for the foreseeable future. To prevent the spread of any illness, no one experiencing symptoms may enter campus. Any child or adult exhibiting any symptoms of illness (e.g., fever or chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, new loss of taste or smell, appearing or behaving sick, etc.) must stay home or will be sent home.

    Families will be asked to conduct a daily at home COVID-19 screening of each student for fever and other COVID related symptoms through our Magnus Health mobile app. Parents must show the Magnus green badge with the date on it before students may exit the car. The student will then have a temperature check before they are allowed to come onto campus. Each cohort will be checked in a different location, depending on the homeroom location on campus.

    Faculty and staff use the employee portal of Magnus Health for the same app-based badge system. Their temperature will be taken and recorded. If they do not pass the health screening, or have a temperature of over 100.4 degrees, they will immediately leave campus.

    Pandemic Health Coordinator and Health Station
    Seven Hills has a full-time Health Coordinator, Michael Murphy, to lead our efforts to manage school community health and wellness across our three divisions during the 2020-21 school year. The primary responsibility for this position will be working with the leadership team to reduce risk while reopening on-campus learning. A licensed EMT, Mike is trained to deliver a wide range of medical care including treating injuries, giving first aid, assessing for possible COVID-19 symptoms, administering medications if necessary, and contacting a parent/caregiver to pick up a possibly sick child. Mike is one of three trained contact tracers among our faculty and staff who will assist with the process of Seven Hills specific contact tracing as directed by Contra Costa County Health Department.
    To care for students who become sick at school, we have modified and isolated a section of the library to be a designated student health station. This space has its own restroom and door to the outside, and is separated from any office or learning space for both privacy and containment purposes. The space includes an isolation room for symptomatic students awaiting pick-up. 

    Protocols for Sick Children
    • A student with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or experiencing symptoms such as an unusual cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell, lethargy, etc., must be kept home.
    • If a student is sick with symptoms of COVID-19, their sibling(s) will also be asked to stay at home until cleared by their doctor. This will prevent an asymptomatic sibling unknowingly shedding the virus at school.
    • Students who begin to experience symptoms after their arrival to school will be escorted to the designated Health Center to describe their symptoms for documentation. The Health Coordinator will provide a reassuring atmosphere for the student and notify their family immediately so that the student may be picked up.
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19, or have a member of their household test positive for COVID-19, will need to remain off-campus until isolation or quarantine time is complete, as directed by local health authorities. If a child lives in a household with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the child should remain quarantined for 14 days after the last day of the case’s isolation period.
  • Healthy Hygiene Practices

    To help prevent the spread of infectious disease, faculty and staff will teach and reinforce healthy hygiene practices in school, such as handwashing, coughing/sneezing etiquette, and avoiding face-touching. 

    New indoor and outdoor handwashing and touchless hand sanitizing stations have been installed across campus for every cohort. Campus restrooms have also been converted to be fully touchless for added hygiene. Students and adults will adhere to a supervised handwashing schedule including before and after recess, meals and snacks, and at various points throughout the day.

    Seven Hills encourages parents to introduce their children to the healthy hygiene practices that students will follow at school, including handwashing, positioning their elbow over their face when sneezing/coughing (without removing their mask), limited face-touching, etc. Source: CDC tips for talking with children
  • Identification and Tracing of Contacts

    Seven Hills has three newly trained contact tracers among our faculty and staff who will assist with the process of specific contact tracing as directed by Contra Costa County Health Department. Our full time Health Coordinator is our designated person for the health department to contact about COVID-19.

    Any positive COVID-19 tests in the community must be reported to Seven Hills immediately so that thorough contact tracing can be conducted, and individuals who were in close contact with the person who has received a positive test can be notified. Seven Hills will work closely with the Contra Costa County Public Health Department to determine through contact tracing if the affected child’s cohort and additional individuals will need to be quarantined. For students who need to quarantine, Seven Hills will provide remote learning opportunities for the duration of the quarantine. The school will follow Contra Costa County protocols for a student diagnosed with COVID-19 to return to school.
  • Physical Distancing

    The Seven Hills COVID Task Force has thoroughly mapped out our nine-acre campus to assess our students-to-space ratios. Seven Hills benefits from the indoor square footage, as well as usable outdoor acreage, to accommodate all of our students and faculty and a range of modifications on campus. 

    To utilize our available square footage in the most effective ways and provide extra spaces for cohorts, we have added two modular classrooms and an additional Middle School science classroom, as well as reimagined common spaces and specialty classrooms. All of our new and redesigned spaces comply with physical distancing requirements. Students will be instructed and encouraged to maintain physical distancing of a minimum of six feet at all times, including inside classrooms.

    Indoor Learning Spaces:

    • Classrooms have been redesigned for social distancing, with students and teachers able to maintain at least six feet of personal space.
    • Communal tables have been exchanged for individual student desks, facing forward to avoid face-to-face contact. All spaces incorporate a minimum of six feet of space between student desks.
    • Teacher and other staff desks will be at least six feet away from student desks.
    • Our heating and air conditioning systems have been assessed and modified to prioritize fresh air flow from outdoors. MERV-13 rated air filters have also been added to our HVAC systems, as recommended by the CDC.
    Outdoor Learning Spaces:

    • Students will be dropped off in the morning using a drive-thru carline process with parents remaining in their cars to avoid congregating. The exception is for early childhood students who need to be signed into class by law (California Care Licensing).
    • Each classroom cohort will have uniquely designated outdoor spaces for play and learning.
    • Playground policies will reflect single cohort use by the week with students wearing masks and washing hands before and after playground times. This means students will rotate weekly through playground areas, and no other cohort will use it that week.
    • Recess, PE, and outdoor time will be staggered to prevent mixing of cohorts. When multiple cohorts are outdoors at the same time, plenty of physical distancing will ensure that each cohort has ample room to play and move within their cohort.
    • Signage related to COVID safety, including masks, physical distancing, directional traffic flow, handwashing, etc. will be visible around campus.
  • Staff Training and Family Education

    All faculty and staff participated in hands-on training over the summer, including training sessions regarding sanitization practices and our classroom-to-home technology for distance learners. Seven Hills also hosted virtual training during our professional development week of August 24-28, 2020, including physical distancing guidelines, proper use and removal of masks, screening practices, COVID-19 symptom identification, and CPR/first aid. Our weekly staff meetings will provide opportunities for ongoing training.

    We have built in professional development days into our school calendar to reinforce the rules and protocols on campus, including virtual faculty Q&A sessions. 

    Seven Hills will continue to communicate important information regarding COVID-19 risk management, teaching, and learning via a number of centralized channels: weekly email newsletter (Monday Memo), standalone COVID-19 update emails, updates posted on the Jaguar Junction page, a series of virtual parent roundtables in each grade level, and interactive online events. Seven Hills will continue to solicit valuable input from community stakeholders on important issues and decisions.
  • Testing of Students and Staff

    Data shows that consistent community testing is especially effective at reducing virus clusters and transmission. Out of an abundance of caution, all employees and K-8 students have weekly surveillance COVID testing. The purpose of this type of testing is to collect data that allows us to understand how the virus may be moving, to prevent campus spread, and to better plan for the rest of the school year.

    Any students or staff exhibiting symptoms will immediately be required to wait in the Health Office until they can be transported home or to a healthcare facility, as soon as practicable.

    If a student or staff member exhibits COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing) based on symptom screening per COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Schools, they will be sent home and it will be recommended that they get tested with their healthcare provider or at a community testing site. Students or staff may not return to school until test results are known. If a test is negative after displaying symptoms, the student may return to school after a minimum of three days without a fever and after symptoms have resolved.

    If a student or staff member is confirmed to have a COVID-19 case, the school will notify the local public health department, isolate the case, and have them quarantine for 10 days from onset or test date. Students that are identified as contacts will also be quarantined, with testing recommended. Disinfection and cleaning of the classroom and primary spaces where the case spent significant time will occur as soon as possible. A community notification of a known case will be sent out to all constituents in that grade-level.

    When there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 of a student or staff member, anyone who has been in close contact (less than six feet of distance for more than 15 minutes) will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from last exposure, and testing will be recommended. If a child lives in a household with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the child should remain quarantined for 14 days after the last day of the case’s isolation period. The school will work in conjunction with the local health department as requested.

     Any positive COVID-19 tests in the community must be reported to Seven Hills immediately so that thorough contact tracing can be conducted and individuals who were in close contact with the person who has received a positive test can be notified. Seven Hills will work closely with the Contra Costa County Public Health Department to determine through contact tracing if the affected child’s cohort and additional individuals will need to be quarantined. For students who need to quarantine, Seven Hills will provide remote learning opportunities for the duration of the quarantine. The school will follow Contra Costa County protocols for a student diagnosed with COVID-19 to return to school.
  • Surveillance Testing of Staff

    Seven Hills has secured a contract with PMH Laboratory, Inc. to perform regular COVID-19 (PCR swab testing) on all employees on a weekly basis. All faculty and staff received a baseline COVID-19 test on August 25, 2020 and will continue to be tested on a weekly schedule to detect any possible asymptomatic infections. PMH Laboratory has the ability to provide test results within 72 hours.
  • Triggers for Switching to Distance Learning

    Seven Hills’ COVID-19 liaison and health coordinator will check state and local orders and health department notices daily about transmission in the area or closures and adjust operations accordingly. When a student, teacher, or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and has exposed others at Seven Hills, the liaison will refer to the CDPH Framework for K-12 Schools, and implement the following steps:

    • In consultation with the local public health department, the Head of School Kathleen McNamara will consult with one of our three contact tracers to determine whether school closure versus cleaning and quarantine of exposed persons or other intervention is warranted, including the length of time necessary, based on the risk level within the specific community as determined by the local public health officer.
    • Implement communication plans for exposure at school and potential school closures to include outreach to students, parents, teachers, staff, and the community.
    • Regular communications with the Contra Costa County health department will be maintained.
    • A school closure may occur either:
      • when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts at a school
      • when at least 5% of the total number of teachers/students/staff have cases within a 14-day period.
  • Communication Plans

    Our Health Coordinator Mike Murphy and Head of School Kathleen McNamara will notify local health officials immediately of any positive case of COVID-19, and of exposed staff and families as relevant, while maintaining confidentiality as required by state and federal laws. Seven Hills has policies and procedures for communicating with parents and staff regarding communicable diseases which includes an email to parents in that grade level and to appropriate staff who may have been exposed. This alerts parents and staff to the symptoms of a specific illness and a possible exposure that adheres to the policy requirements of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The identity of the student/family will remain confidential per FERPA.

    The designated Seven Hills COVID-19 Response Team will be responsible for communicating to our school families and staff of possible exposure to a specific class. Any follow-up needed will be done with consultation and in conjunction with the Contra Costa County Department of Health following their protocols and recommendations.
  • Community Responsibility

    Seven Hills will actively work to articulate, explain, and encourage healthy behavior among students, employees, and families, both in and out of school. We will strive to foster a collective spirit in which we take care of ourselves, our Seven Hills community members, and people in the wider community. Our ability to do our best to mitigate risk for our entire community relies heavily on all of us committing to maintain and enhance a culture of health, safety, and shared responsibility. More than ever, our personal behaviors will affect the health of our entire community.

    Accountability to Guidelines: We will expect everyone in our community to follow CDC and state/county guidelines at school and at home. Without adherence to these ordinances, virus mitigation becomes far more difficult. Most recent local mandates and information can be found at Contra Costa Health Services Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Practice at home with your child: washing hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing when around people outside of your immediate household.

    Reporting Illness or Exposure: It is the duty of parents and guardians to disclose to Seven Hills if they, their children attending Seven Hills, or anyone else with whom the child cohabitates have tested positive for COVID-19 or if their child attending Seven Hills is a primary close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. It is also the duty of employees to disclose to Seven Hills if they or anyone else with whom they cohabitate have tested positive for COVID-19 or if they are a primary close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

    Equity and Inclusion for Off-Campus Learners: Seven Hills is committed to delivering high quality and engaging materials for both at home and at school learners, in both synchronous and asynchronous modes. Teachers have attended training sessions in classroom-to-home technology including the 360-degree OWL with an adaptive camera and sophisticated audio systems. Families opting to tune in from home, or a cohort that needs to quarantine for any reason, will be able to tune into their classroom and participate in real-time. Seven Hills has also hired additional support teachers in the Lower School grades to provide enhanced oversight and support of both in-person and at-home learners. 

    Prior to our Return: We ask all families to please stay current on Contra Costa County guidance and stay-at-home orders, particularly in the two weeks leading up to the return of school. Every family’s adherence to virus mitigation best practice, as detailed by the county, is crucial to a consistent on-campus educational experience for our students.

    Travel: Domestic and international overnight trips in 4th-8th grades have been canceled for the 2020-21 school year. Non-essential family travel should be limited or avoided. If you do need to travel, please ensure that safety measures—physical distancing and enhanced sanitation practices—remain a priority. If families must travel to a state outside California where COVID-19 cases are particularly rampant, they have been asked to consult guidance regarding quarantining for at least 14 days upon return, or have a COVID test for your child before returning to school.
The Community Support Fund

Seven Hills and its families have always supported one another in times of need, and this is true now more than ever. To assist members of our Seven Hills community who are experiencing economic hardship in the recent health and financial crisis, the school launched the Seven Hills Community Support Fund. Donations to this fund will be used to create short-term assistance through bridge tuition grants to families with new financial need, or who have expressed uncertainty about their ability to meet their current tuition obligations for 2020-21. A spirit of generosity has long been a defining feature of Seven Hills, and we are so grateful to all who have made a donation that will keep our community strong and united.