Staying safe … together
For the 2021-22 school year, Seven Hills has developed and will continuously evolve our COVID-19- related safety protocols, informed by national, state, and local public health organizations and our own task force of community health experts from area hospitals. We will continue to adjust our protocols and revise the following materials as information emerges and best practices for schools continue to evolve.
Our highest priority is to revert to in-person learning as fully as possible. Close, in-person relationships are an essential element of the student experience at Seven Hills, critical both to students’ academic progress and to their mental health and well-being. Accordingly, for 2021-22, we will offer remote learning only in very rare circumstances to students with a documented medical condition, approved by our nursing team, or to students who must be quarantined for an extended period because of exposure to COVID.
Seven Hills has developed the following safety protocols for the 2021-22 school year. These protocols are based on current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP), the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and from our own COVID Advisory Team, infectious diseases and pediatric specialists who are also school parents. Because the situation is evolving rapidly, we will continue to update the guidelines as new information becomes available.
If you have questions, please contact our school nurses.
Joy Copfer, RN, BSN, LSN – Hillsdale Campus
o: 513.728.2364 | f: 513.728.2374
Carolyn Vincze, RN, BSN, LSN – Doherty Campus
o: 513.728.2324 | f: 513.728.2352
Daily Health Assessment (At Home)
- All employees and students or their parents must conduct daily health checks prior to going to school, which includes assessing symptoms.
- Anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headaches, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell) or with a temperature above 100 degrees should stay home and contact their health care provider.
Daily Health Assessment (At School)
- If anyone begins to show symptoms during the school day, they will be separated, given a mask, and monitored by a staff member wearing appropriate PPE. The space where the individual waits to go home will be an area not frequently visited by students.
- The school nurses will refer those displaying symptoms to an appropriate health care professional or testing site.
Visitors to Campus
All visitors to the school campuses must comply with all safety protocols:
- They should check in at the divisional office.
- They must wear a mask inside all school buildings.
Protocols for Confirmed or Suspected Illness
This document describes the procedures we will use if a student or faculty/staff member becomes will on campus. It also outlines isolation, quarantine, and return-to-school requirements that are based on new guidelines from Cincinnati Children's Hospital, the CDC, and local health authorities.
- Parents or caregivers and all school employees must immediately notify the school if they or if a member of their household has been diagnosed with or is presumed to have COVID-19.
- We will follow the requirements established by Cincinnati Health Department and the CDC, which mandate isolation of those who test positive for COVID-19 and quarantine for those who are determined to be “close contacts” (defined as being within three feet of a positive case for 15 minutes or more, within the prior 48 hours). These mandates do vary, depending on an individual’s vaccination status:
- Fully Vaccinated Individuals - No quarantine is required, unless exhibiting symptoms
- Individuals Not Fully Vaccinated - Must isolate for 10 days; can return to school on the 11th day if not experiencing symptoms or on the 8th day with a negative test, taken at least five days after exposure.
- Not fully vaccinated, but has previously tested positive - Must quarantine, as above, if the previous positive test was more than 90 days earlier.
Because, in accordance with these guidelines, our nurses will have to make quarantine decisions on the basis of vaccination status, all families of vaccine-eligible students in grades 7 - 12 should complete the vaccination survey before the start of the school.
- In the case of a positive or suspected COVID-19 case in a school building, the school nurses will contact local health departments.
- The school nurses will assist local officials in conducting contact tracing for any students and employees potentially exposed, exposed, or diagnosed with COVID-19.
- In the case of a positive test, without revealing the name of the student or employee, the school nurses will inform families and staff members within a homeroom cohort, class, or grade, as warranted.
When testing is recommended, there are many available options to obtain a COVID-19 test. Depending on your healthcare provider, you may be able to get a test at their office, or you may need to go elsewhere for a test.
It is important to inquire as to the testing method your individual healthcare provider uses. The PCR/Molecular assay test is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing with high sensitivity and specificity rates, resulting in better accuracy. Rapid antigen tests are quick, but do not provide the same level of accuracy seen with PCR/Molecular assay tests. The Seven Hills nursing staff requires the PCR/Molecular assay test; we are not accepting the fast antigen tests.
It is also important to discuss turnaround time for test results with your healthcare provider. To expedite contact tracing at school and prevent further spread, quick turnaround time is key. Many pediatrician offices are using Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for testing due to a turnaround time between 24-48 hours for results.
If you are unable to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider within a reasonable timeframe, or cannot obtain PCR/Molecular assay testing with your healthcare provider, you may use this service through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – CincyKids Health Connect. This service allows you to see a pediatric expert right away — with 24/7 video visits from your smart phone or computer.
In order to obtain your child’s results quickly you can set up a MyChart at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Documentation of all PCR/Molecular tests must be submitted to the nurse prior to school re-entry.
- Thorough cleaning and disinfection will be performed at the end of each school day.
- The school will provide hand sanitizer in high traffic areas including entrances to buildings and classrooms.
- Students, employees, and volunteers must practice frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds when hands are dirty, before and after eating, and after using the restroom.
- Students and teachers will be required to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before each class, or more frequently if warranted.
- HVAC systems will maximize air circulation into our school buildings.
- Air filters have been upgraded to MERV-13 to increase particle and droplet capture.
- All classrooms and offices have been equipped with supplemental air purifiers.
- Tents have been purchased to facilitate holding classes outside when practical.
- All students and employees will be trained in protocols for handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, physical distancing, appropriate use of face masks, cough and sneeze etiquette, and the importance of staying home when sick or displaying symptoms.
- The school will incorporate signs, posters, and other methods to reinforce the important practice of frequent handwashing and sanitizing.
- Faculty and staff will model these protocols and reinforce them with verbal reminders and signage.
- All employees, visitors, and students in grades PK - 12 must wear masks when inside school buildings (including classrooms, hallways, libraries, and common areas) and on school-provided transportation, for at least the first four weeks of the school year. The only exception is within individual offices when employees are alone.
- If the vaccination rates among students in grades 7 - 12 climb above 90 percent, case counts in Cincinnati begin to diminish once again, and if, most importantly, we learn from the experience of others that a school can operate safely without universal masking, we will reconsider our approach, in grades 7 -12, after that initial four-week period.
- Students in PK2 will wear age-appropriate face coverings.
- Students who have forgotten to bring a mask to school should obtain one from a divisional office before going to their homeroom.
- Masks will not be required in outdoor spaces as long as social distancing requirements are maintained.
- Families should provide masks for their children that are comfortable for extended wear.
- Mask Requirements:
- Masks should be designed to stay on and cover the nose and the mouth.
- Masks should be clean.
- Masks should have ear loops or straps/ties around the head.
- Masks should not have valves.
- Neck gaiters are not an acceptable alternative.
- In circumstances when mask wearing becomes unduly burdensome, students in grades 1 -12 and employees can use face shields to provide a brief respite.
Employees and students must maintain a three-foot distance whenever possible. In addition, wherever possible, students will sit in assigned seats, to minimize contact with others and to facilitate contact tracing.
The following procedures have between established to maintain social distancing:
- In classrooms as well as in common areas (cafeterias, commons, and libraries) chairs and work stations will be spaced three feet apart wherever possible.
- When students must sit closer together to collaborate with peers or teachers, they will wear masks.
Circulation Between Classes
- When students travel between classes, they will be masked.
No students will be permitted to be on campus before or after school hours unless they are supervised. After 3:30 p.m., only students who are enrolled in After the Bell (PK-5), Encore Club (Middle School), and those students participating in interscholastic sports or performing arts productions will be permitted to remain on campus. All other students are required to leave campus by 3:30 p.m.
Before and After Care
Seven Hills will continue to offer before (7:30 - 8:10 a.m.) and after (3:15 - 6 p.m.) care options. All of the school day expectations for masking and social distancing will be in effect for before and after school programs. After school enrichment teachers will be permitted to come on campus, but must comply with all safety protocols.
- All coaches and staff must wear masks in small enclosed areas
- Appropriate social distancing will be maintained on sidelines and benches during practices and games when possible.
- Athletes will not do pre-game and post-game handshakes, high-fives, or fist bumps.
- Where social distancing is not possible (buses, locker rooms, training rooms) masks are required for all individuals present.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Hand sanitizer will be available at all athletic activities and should be used regularly.
- All students, coaches, officials, and staff must bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared.
- Indoor spectators will wear a face mask at all times.
- Spectators will practice physical distancing with those outside of their direct family parties.
Transportation to Away Games
- Athletes will wear masks on school-provided transportation.
- To reduce overcrowding on buses and vans, we may need help from parent drivers.
- The shuttle between campuses will run as usual, but students will sit at a safe distance and will be required to wear masks on all school-provided transportation.
- Field trips and overnight trips will resume.
Because some students may struggle to adjust to these new protocols or worry inordinately about their own or others’ health and safety:
- Guidance counselors will provide opportunities for classroom discussion.
- Homeroom teachers and advisors will monitor students for sign of stress and refer them to the divisional guidance counselor for additional support.
In the event of a surge in COVID-19 cases, Seven Hills will comply with the orders of the Ohio Department of Health or Hamilton County Health Departments. If schools are ordered to close or if local conditions warrant, the school will suspend in-person learning and implement remote learning.
Communication from Head of School Chris Garten
August 2021 – Letter to Families