COVID-19 Updates

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Covid-19 Information

Resources and School Communications Regarding the Navigation of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

HMS COVID POLICY, FALL 2022

As we enter into the new school year, we are doing so without direct guidance for schools from the state. As such, we will be following CDC recommendations and guidelines, and expanding on them where we, as a school community, feel necessary. The below information is also outlined in this chart

Individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or who are symptomatic, must take a COVID test.

If results are negative and you are asymptomatic, you may return to school. We recommend that those individuals mask for 5 days following exposure and then re-test. 

If results are negative and you are symptomatic, you need to continue to test each day, and you may return to school when symptoms have improved for 24 hours and you continue to test negative. 

If results are positive and you are asymptomatic, you should isolate, and may return to school after five days, and must wear a kn95 mask for 5 additional days. 

If results are positive and you are symptomatic, you should isolate, and may return to school after five days when symptoms have improved for 24 hours, and must wear a kn95 mask for 5 additional days. 

When you have COVID-19, isolation is counted in days, as follows:

If you had no symptoms

  • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result)
  • Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested
  • If you develop symptoms within 10 days of when you were tested, the clock restarts at day 0 on the day of symptom onset

If you had symptoms

  • Day 0 of isolation is the day of symptom onset, regardless of when you tested positive
  • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

For more information, see the CDC’s informational page on when to test and isolate by clicking here.

Fall 2022 COVID Policy Updates

We have not gotten any specific recommendations from the State regarding COVID for schools in the Fall of 2022, nor do we expect to. We have been proud of the careful navigation we have done through this pandemic and grateful for the understanding and cooperation from our families. We are thrilled that vaccinations are now available for our younger students and have heard of many of our Children’s House students getting vaccinated. We loved the increased opportunities for community that started at the end of last year and we are excited to bring back many of our cross-program and cross-generation activities. As we look to next year, we expect to begin the year with activities much like we did before COVID. We will adjust if cases rise and/or the health risks of our community change.

Specifically we expect to:

  • Have masking be optional for all programs
  • Bring back Peace Buddies!!  (pairings of students, younger and older across the programs Toddler-Middle School)
  • Continue to do as many activities outside as logistically feasible, especially activities involving cross-program groups
  • Have All School Gathering starting in October (most likely outside)
  • Allow for parents to come inside the building with masking optional
  • Continue to run the ungraded HVAC systems and air filters that increase the ventilation in all of our buildings
  • Invite Grandparents and Special Friends for a visit in October (mark your calendars for October 7th!)

If/when we have cases within our direct student and staff community, we will continue to follow the guidelines of having COVID positive people wait the 5 or more days and symptoms significantly better before returning to school. We will also need to continue to be vigilant about having students and staff with any COVID symptoms stay home until symptoms improve significantly.

We are very grateful to our COVID Advisory Committee who have helped us steer through these changing waters these past two years. We appreciate the generous contributions of their experience and expertise and they make recommendations for how we proceed at each step. Should the situation change regarding COVID in our community we will make adjustments accordingly. If you have any comments or questions, please reach out to me.

Tamara Mount

Head of School

HMS Covid-19 Advisory Committee

Many of you have asked how Hilltop determines what policies we implement to keep our community safe and our school open for in-person learning during the pandemic. While Hilltop follows all the rules required by the state of Vermont, we often need to interpret them to some extent to apply them to our community. The Admin Team and the teachers have developed and adapted COVID guidance for the school for almost two years. To do so, Tamara Mount (our Head of School) has an additional team of advisors available to her. The HMS Covid-19 Advisory Committee consists of medical personnel, parents, and Board members. They review any significant policy and also are available to advise Tamara and the admin team as needed. The school also has on-call access to medical advisors under contract to Brattleboro Primary Care. We most often receive advice from their pediatricians Heather Lesage-Horton, MD, and Liz Richards, MD, who happen to be longstanding parents at HMS. Tamara can call on those two at any time. She also calls the Advisory Committee when time allows and/or a more significant policy needs to be discussed. These discussions have been through email, Google Docs, and Zoom calls. Sunday mornings are usually when the committee is available! Below is the COVID-19 advisory board members listed in alphabetical order:

  • Juliette Carr is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and Registered Herbalist, and is a parent of two children currently enrolled at HMS. 
  • Todd Fahey is the Vice President of Hospital Ambulatory Services at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, the Board Treasurer for HMS, and a current HMS parent.
  • Mark A. Horton, MD, is an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene and a current HMS parent.
  • Heather Lesage-Horton, MD, is a pediatrician at Brattleboro Primary Care Practice and a current HMS parent. She has been a medical advisor for HMS since before the pandemic.
  • Ellie Pennell is a credentialed Montessori educator, camp director, and Board Chair for HMS. She is also a current HMS parent.
  • Asher Pucciarello, LCMHC, is a mental health counselor at The Children and Parents Project, a member of the HMS Board, and a current HMS parent.
  • Elizabeth Richards, MD, is a pediatrician at Brattleboro Primary Care Practice and a current HMS parent. She has been a medical advisor for HMS since before the pandemic.

2020/21 Re-Entry Plan

We, as a school, have been working hard to develop our HMS Re-Entry Plan for September 2020. We have great appreciation for the staff, teachers, Board members, and parents who offered and helped to develop this plan. It is nimble and able to adjust to changing situations. We are committed to being here in person if at all possible. Our teachers and staff are under contract and lined up to serve your children. The year ahead will require a strong partnership between families and the school. Please read through the attached document carefully and thoughtfully to begin that shared commitment, and set both ourselves and our children up for a safe and successful year ahead. If you have any questions about the plan generally, or about your particular family circumstances, PLEASE reach out to us.

Parent Resources

Aid to Life – A straightforward advice based on Montessori principles that are easy to understand and apply

Talking to your child about COVID-19 – National Assocation of School Psychologists

How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus – NY Times article

A Comic for Kids about COVID-19 – by NPR editor Malakra Gharib teaching early elementary children about coronavirus

Additional Online Learning Resources 

Staying Informed

HMS is following the recommendations of state and federal government agencies, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Vermont Department of Health (VTDH), the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE), and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to the best of our ability and with consideration for children’s ages and developmental stages.

By choosing to send your child to school, you are agreeing to possibly curtail other activities so as to keep our community safe. ​We ask families to stay informed and make safe personal choices, with the understanding that our whole school community must work together to stay safe and healthy.