Re-opening the Hilltop

We have learned a great deal from our transition to Connected Learning last spring as well as from the guidelines and recommendations that have been collected from the CDC, local and federal authorities, and in concert with other independent schools in the region. We have utilized this acquired knowledge to make plans for the2020/21 academic year. In the document to the right, you will find details about our Re-Opening the Hilltop plan.


RE-Opening the Hilltop

Dear Friends:

Thank you to the many of you who joined us in our Zoom welcome sessions last week and to the others who reached out with clarifying questions. Since the release of our initial plan on August 7th, we have continued to add details to our strategy. We have considered your feedback in our Zoom meetings and via email, conversations with our faculty and staff, updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and observations of other private schools in this area who have already opened their campuses for returns to in-person learning.  All of these factors have helped us to further hone and adapt our plans for the opening of school. 

As we have said all along, this is a quickly-changing situation, and our plans are designed to be agile. With a firm eye on the world around us we have decided the following:

1. Our Lower School classes will begin in person as scheduled on Friday, August 28.

2. Our Early Childhood program will begin in person as scheduled the week of Monday, August 31.

3. We will stagger the start of our in-person Middle School program.

  • All Middle School students will begin learning online Thursday, August 27 and continue online until their return to campus.
  • 5th graders return to campus Tuesday, September 1.
  • 6th graders return to campus Wednesday, September 2.
  • 7th graders return to campus Thursday, September 3.
  • 8th graders return to campus Friday, September 4.

Our entire Middle School will then be on campus by the Friday before Labor Day.

4. Upper School classes will begin in online fashion on Thursday, August 27. They will continue in that mode for the first seven school days until the US students come to campus on Tuesday, September 8.

5. Our Upper School orientation will take place in person next Wednesday, August 26, 10:00 am-12:00 pm. This small group can easily be accommodated on campus and this is a group that will benefit from finding their way around a new division physically.

6. Early Childhood and Lower School get-acquainted conferences will happen next week as scheduled. These are currently being scheduled by teachers for a mix of in-person and online settings.

7. Upper School athletics will continue, or begin, to meet in person after school, even when students are learning remotely. The timing for in-person practices will be adjusted to 3:30 so that students may finish their studies at 2:45 and arrive to practice on time.

Why are we doing this in this fashion?

1. We believe that our youngest students are the ones who most need the in-person opportunities to learn successfully. We further believe that the cohorts and controlled movements at that level best allow for a successful return to in-person learning. This also gives our youngest students and families the chance to arrive at and depart from campus and learn those routines as they will happen this year before all students have returned.

2. We believe staggering the arrival of our students allows us the chance to implement and hone our procedures in a successful way. Our independent and private school colleagues have experienced that having a smaller subset of their students on campus to start has given them a more effective way to help students of varying ages establish relationships effectively and get to understand the myriad ways in which school will be different this year. 

3. Of all our students, we believe that our Middle and Upper School students are best equipped to succeed with online learning and successfully build relationships in this environment. It also ensures that they will start the year with crucial continuity and predictability. The phased return of our Middle School students will allow us to focus on each Middle School grade as those students learn the new procedures. This will best lay the academic and social foundation for a successful year. 

4. A staggered start will allow our faculty to acclimate to this unique and unprecedented environment and best serve our students and families. It also allows our administrators and staff to support the faculty and families in a more focused way. 

5. It allows us to continue to evaluate the trends in Kane County and to ensure that our plans are the best they can be as the environment changes and we work with our partners in the Kane County Department of Public Health.

We have maintained all along that our plan is designed to be adapted to best serve our community. We remain steadfast in our commitment to be on campus as many days as possible and feel these adjustments give us the best chance of achieving this goal of supporting safe, in-person instruction.

I acknowledge the impact this may have on your planning, and I appreciate your support as we continue to use the most up-to-date information to evaluate our plans and provide the best environment for all the stakeholders - students and adults - who share our vibrant campus each day. 

If you have Middle or Upper School students, they will hear from their first trimester teachers by next Wednesday evening to ensure they can access their classes next Thursday and start the year right. If you are an Early Childhood or Lower School family, as I mentioned above, the planning for get-acquainted conferences is already underway. 

Thank you, as always for your partnership with our school. I am so excited about this year with its possibilities unlike any other.  

I look forward to seeing you soon,



Reopening the Hilltop Aug 2020

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