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
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
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
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.
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.
Indoor Learning Spaces:
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.
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.
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.