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

Jaguar Junction

Seven Hills will begin our academic year (grades K-8) with distance learning on August 31. As Contra Costa County has allowed preschool and pre-kindergarten programs to remain open, our ECE program will open in-person on August 31.

Dear Seven Hills Families -
 
Even as we adapt to the many conditions resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I still look ahead with possibility and optimism as we near the beginning of the 2020–21 school year. As we re-open in distance learning, we remain committed to reimagining our campus, adding to our operations and safety plans, and bringing students back to campus when we are permitted to do so. We will continue to be 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. Thank you for your support during these past five months for your goodwill and confidence as we move forward.
 
"Keep Calm & Jaguar On!"
 
Kathleen McNamara
Head of School

COVID-19 Operations and Safety Plan

List of 7 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 response plan 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.

    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.

    Seven Hills’ 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 
    • 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.
  • Health and Safety Framework

    To help mitigate the spread of any infectious disease, our broad response plan includes these changes to our usual practices on campus:
    • Grouping students into small cohorts, with dedicated indoor and outdoor teaching spaces for each cohort
    • Classroom redesign for social distancing, with students and teachers maintaining six feet of personal space, complete with a virtual learning option
    • Masks for students and adults
    • Symptom screening and monitoring
    • Touchless restrooms
    • Additional indoor and outdoor handwashing stations
    • Touchless hand sanitizing stations outside each cohort space
    • Interior airflow analysis and modifications
    • Enhanced and rigorous cleaning/sanitizing procedures on all high-touch surfaces
    Cohort Grouping
    To eliminate intermingling among large groups of students, all daily activities will be conducted among small student cohort groups, ranging from 10-18 students, depending on the size of the space. Exclusive-use spaces will be assigned to cohorts allowing each student to adhere to the currently available California Department of Public Health Return to School guidelines and provide appropriate levels of social distancing in each space. Teams of administrators and teachers have collaborated closely to balance the cohorts and maintain as many of the Seven Hills unique programming options as possible.
    • Rainbow, Red Barn, and Kindergarten classrooms will have two “bubbles” or cohorts in each classroom, with two teachers staying with the same students throughout the day.
    • First through eighth grade classes will be divided into three cohorts of approximately 12-18 students each, with teachers traveling between the cohorts, instead of students moving from classroom to classroom.
    • 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).
    Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    Masks are required at all times for both students and employees on the Seven Hills campus, unless eating and/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, and we will closely follow evolving guidelines regarding face coverings on children. In the meantime, 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.

    Hygiene and Handwashing
    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 hand sanitizing stations have been installed across campus for every cohort. Students and adults will adhere to a supervised handwashing schedule including before and after recess, meals and snacks, and 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

    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.
    As we approach the beginning of school, specific daily health screening guidelines will be provided to families. Families will be asked to conduct daily at home screenings of each student for fever and other COVID related symptoms prior to departing for school each day. Faculty and staff will stop at an outdoor screening station upon arriving to campus each morning for a symptom and temperature check from the Health Coordinator.

    Pandemic Health Coordinator and Health Station
    Seven Hills has hired a full-time Health Coordinator, Stephanie Sarchett, 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 paramedic and certified phlebotomist, Stephanie 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. Stephanie is one of three newly 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. 

    Campus Facilities
    The COVID Task Force has thoroughly mapped out the 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.
    1. Indoor Learning Spaces:
    • Communal tables have been exchanged for individual student desks. All spaces incorporate a minimum of six feet of space between student desks.
    • Soft furnishings including bean bags, area rugs, cushions, Kimochis, etc. have been stored and replaced with furniture that can be easily sanitized.
    • Students will have individual and personalized kits with learning materials and supplies, and will not share any materials or supplies this year.
    • Our heating and air conditioning systems have been assessed and modified to prioritize fresh air flow from outdoors.
    1. Outdoor Learning Spaces:
    • 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, but for the week they are using a specific portion of the playground, no other cohort will be using it. 
    • Signage related to COVID safety, including masks, physical distancing, directional traffic flow, handwashing, etc. will be visible around campus.
    1. Intensive Cleaning:
    • Seven Hills has expanded its cleaning and custodial teams to achieve enhanced and rigorous cleaning procedures.
    • Cleaning staff will focus on frequent sanitizing of high-touch surfaces and spaces after use.
    • Whenever possible, windows and interior doors in classrooms and offices will remain open for fresh air circulation.
    On-Campus Parents and Visitors
    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. This includes parents, alumni, prospective parents, and guest speakers. While the strength of the Seven Hills parent community has long been a throughline of our school, parents and other visitors are asked to remain offsite, except for the carline during pick-up and drop-off. We are planning for ways to build the home-school partnership and engagement throughout the year in the form of various virtual events. For the time being, we will not be able to offer on-campus tours to prospective families, so we appreciate your invaluable ambassadorship to families who might be a good fit for Seven Hills!

    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.
  • How Will This All Look On Campus?

    • All students in ECE-8th grade will attend school each day, for the entire academic school day. The default will be for on-campus instruction, as long as government guidelines permit campuses to be open. Otherwise, the academic day will be conducted remotely.
    • Each grade level will be split into cohort sections, based on enrollment and class size.
    • Students will be instructed and encouraged to maintain physical distancing of a minimum of six feet at all times, including inside classrooms.
    • As indicated above, each cohort will have between 10-18 students. Each cohort will have a designated classroom and a corollary outdoor space to learn, take breaks, and eat lunch together.
    • Specialists and subject teachers will rotate through the cohorts in their designated space.
    • 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.
    • Our Lower School playground will remain open to Lower School students; games and activities will be available to older students during recess and outdoor time.
    • Students will wash their hands before and after recess and lunch activities, as well as at various points throughout the day.
    • Seven Hills is working with Epicurean regarding an app-based system for pre-ordering lunch. Lunch will be delivered to each cohort in sealed containers with each student’s name. Snacks will be delivered weekly to each cohort space. Teachers handling snacks will wear gloves in addition to masks.
    • Because Extended Day would require the mixing of cohorts, we will not be able to offer afternoon childcare on campus after 2:55pm.
    • There may be programmatic limitations to our curricular and extracurricular activities, including field trips, group athletics, advisory activities, buddies, etc.
    • At this time, student assemblies and cross-grade activities will be conducted virtually.
    • Domestic and international overnight trips in 4th-8th grades have been canceled for the 2020-21 school year.
    • Students who are temporarily unable to attend school in-person due to illness, quarantine, or other health conditions will be offered remote learning opportunities.
  • What if My Child is Sick?

    • If your child’s temperature is 100.4 degrees or higher, or if they are experiencing symptoms such as an unusual cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell, lethargy, etc., they must be kept home.
    • In addition, if a child is sick with symptoms of COVID, 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 may be required to procure a negative test for COVID-19 before returning to campus.
    • 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.
  • 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.

    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: Non-essential 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 you must travel to a state outside California where COVID-19 cases are particularly rampant, please consult guidance regarding quarantining for at least 14 days upon return, or have a COVID test for your child before returning to school.

    Testing: Data shows that consistent community testing is especially effective at reducing virus clusters and transmission. We are currently researching how Seven Hills might take advantage of the testing available to best mitigate virus transmission.
  • What Happens Next?

    Virtual Conversation with COVID Task Force and Education Leadership: Join us for a virtual parent meeting on Thursday, August 6, from 6:30-7:30pm. Kathleen McNamara and the COVID Task Force and Education Leadership will update you on our reopening plans and answer your questions about the start of school.

    Communication: Seven Hills will continue to communicate important information regarding COVID-19 risk management, learning, and teaching via a number of centralized channels: weekly email newsletter (Monday Memo), standalone emails, and updates posted on this page, and on occasion live, interactive online events. Seven Hills will continue to solicit valuable input from community stakeholders on important issues and decisions.
  • Whom Do I Contact?

    Please do reach out if you have a question or a particular challenge we can help you address.

    Strategic Response Leader: Kathleen McNamara, Head of School
    Summer Pandemic Response Leader: Matt Shargel, Science Teacher
    Education and Instruction Division: Shauna Maraccini, Dan Rogoff, Dan Meyers
    Health and Safety Division: Stephanie Sarchett, Paramedic and Health Coordinator
    Operations and Physical Space Division: Alex Kopelevich, Michael Chamberlain
    Social-Emotional Support and Family Engagement Division: Jase Turner, Dan Rogoff, Dan Meyers

    More information to follow regarding:
    • Drop-off and pick-up procedures when we are in-person
    • County guidance regarding a possible waiver for some of our elementary grades
    • Continued faculty and staff training
    • Additional plan updates

School Counseling

Our school counselor, Cyrell Roberson, is available to students for individual or group virtual check-ins, and to parents for consultations via email, phone, and video conferencing. If you or your child would like to schedule an appointment with Cyrell, please email him directly at croberson@sevenhilsschool.org.
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.