Update 6/2/20 4PM
Dear Hill House Summer Camp Families:|
The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care released the new guidelines/guidance for the reopening of youth programs yesterday. Hill House is currently reviewing these guidelines and awaiting the publication of further clarification, required forms, and information from the public health officials. We will be required to have our reopening plan approved by the state prior to opening the program. Here is the link for your own information as to what the plan will entail: https://eeclead.force.com/resource/1591036172000/Min_Req

As of today, our targeted reopening date for in-person programming remains the same: June 29, 2020.  Virtual camp will run the weeks of June 15th and June 22nd

There will be many changes that will be implemented to our in-person camp program when reopening, including:

  • Daily temperature/health screenings
  • Frequent and regimented cleanings and disinfecting throughout the day and every evening
  • Staff/child ratios and grouping restrictions
  • Non-sharing of toys
  • Distancing requirements
  • Mask requirements for staff and possible mask requirements for children
  • Snack/lunch policies
  • Lots of outdoor time
  • and additional guidelines that we are seeking clarification on prior to announcing them to families.

Summer camp, while it will look different this year, please be assured that the underlying spirit of Hill House, community, fun, and friendship will remain the same.

I know you have many questions and we do too.  We are going to be consulting with public health officials and others to ensure that we have the most comprehensive health and safety plan available, while still ensuring a fun and community spirited program. We are working through the plan and as soon as we have an approved plan by the state, we will notify you. 

I hope you are all doing well and we look forward to seeing everyone this summer!

Stay well and warmest wishes,

Lauren

Update 5/7/20 8PM
Dear Hill House Summer Camp Family,
Summer camp is my favorite time of year for Hill House. I truly love summer camp. I have always believed that summer camp provides kids with the opportunity to imagine, create, have fun, and explore new interests while also getting out into the sunshine and making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. 

This year is different for all of us.  I long for times before COVID-19 impacted our world, but unfortunately, it is a reality that we have to work through.  I still believe that Hill House summer camp, in some form, will play an important part in all of our children’s lives this summer.
 
As we have stated all along, our hope is that we’ll be able to run our traditional, in-person camp for all our campers this summer.  That said, the health and safety of all our families and staff are still the number one priority and we will follow whatever guidance the CDC, our local elected leaders, the American Camp Association, the Massachusetts Camping Association, and our public health officials say is safe to do.  We hope to hear more from them soon.  We are planning for three possible scenarios and several potential opening dates that could include a possible blend of virtual and in-person camp depending on what mandates we are asked to follow and what dates we are allowed to open.  As soon as we have more information, we will pass it along to our families.
 
We are proceeding full-steam ahead with the hope our traditional camps will open and registration is still open.  Should we learn that we can’t offer the same, traditional in-person programming that we have offered each summer for the past 20+ years, we will provide families many alternative options including participation in our innovative virtual camp that kids can build skills and interact with other kids and instructors in real-time via Zoom; credits toward next summer (2021) at this summer’s rates; credits toward fall or future school-year Hill House programs; and refunds (with a much more relaxed policy than previous years—so no need to rush before the June 1st deadline as we’ve eliminated that deadline and extended requests for refunds for anytime this summer given the unique circumstances).   
 
Our staff is still working full-time and is planning all kinds of fun activities, songs, and games for this summer—no matter in which form it takes.  We miss you all and cannot wait to see you again! Please stay tuned and we promise to have more information as to the structure and logistics you’ll need to joining us in making this a fun-filled summer for your child with Hill House.
 
Stay well and our warmest wishes to you and yours.
 
Lauren Hoops-Schmieg
Executive Director

Update 4/22/20 11AM
Dear Hill House friends, neighbors, and community,

We hope you are all well and managing through these unprecedented times. We know that this has been an adjustment for all of us and Hill House is continually striving to adapt and create new ways to keep our community connected.

As you have heard by now, Governor Baker has extended the closure of all public & private schools and non-essential daycares until June 29th.  As a result, we will not be able to resume in-person or outdoor programming for the remainder of the spring season.  We are disappointed; however, we completely understand how important it is to keep our families safe and reduce the risk of more spread of this terrible virus.  We are still here for you.

We hope that you have enjoyed our online programming so far.  We are extending - and actually - expanding our options (particularly in the athletics side) through the end of spring. 

Our expanded and complete schedule of online classes offered through the end of June are listed at: http://www.hillhouseboston.org/Athletics/Online_Classes.htm

It requires no action on your part as you can remain in your current weekly Zoom class through your program’s original end date. Simply continue to attend and your favorite instructors and coaches will be there to provide drills, training, and socializing with your friends and neighbors. And, if you want to add programs to your child’s schedule, simply reach out to our program staff and they’ll be happy to help you enroll in additional programs.

We know how important it is to keep kids active, healthy, and socialized, and we hope that these online classes will help families stay fit and happy.

If you haven’t had a chance, we also encourage you to join us 2x per week for our FREE family fun nights. To learn more or to register, visit our homepage under Events for upcoming fun and silly times: http://www.hillhouseboston.org/

For those of you in our summer camp, we do have big plans for camp and we’ll be reaching out to families over the next week to talk through some ideas we have. Stay tuned!

Also, be on the lookout for our fall program schedule to be published soon. And, our fall soccer schedule has been announced and you can find it here. http://www.hillhouseboston.org/Athletics/Hill_House___Soccer.htm

Also, our team of volunteers on HHOP/Council has been busy creating phone trees to help families in need, donation drives, and other important outreach. To learn more on how you can help those who are in need of some assistance, please contact Meredith Adamczyk at madamczyk@hillhouseboston.org.

Finally, as you know, Hill House is an independent nonprofit community center who has been serving our downtown Boston neighborhoods for more than 50 years. We have been impacted financially by COVID-19. We hope you will consider continuing to support us during these uncertain times by donating to our Annual Appeal. Your funds will help us continue to offer quality programs, retain staff, maintain our facilities, and help our neighbors in need. To donate to our Annual Appeal, please visit: http://www.hillhouseboston.org/Donate/Annual_Appeal.htm

We miss you all terribly and wish we could be together with you. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions. In the meantime, stay safe and we cannot wait until we’re able to get back to the Firehouse, on the fields, and throughout Boston to see you all again soon.

Be safe and well—
Lauren Hoops-Schmieg, Executive Director & the entire Hill House team

Update 3/30/20 11AM
Dear Hill House Community,
Governor Baker has closed all schools until May 4th. 

Last week, we pilot tested offering our programs online and we are pleased to say that those tests went very well.  While we recognize that the preference will always be to host classes in person, we believe that connecting our community virtually during these uncertain times is critical and we are pleased to roll out live online offerings with your favorite instructors for most of our programs beginning this week for the month of April.

For those enrolled in our programs, you’ll be receiving Zoom links directly from our program staff.  If you would like to try to enroll in additional programs, please let them know.

Our hope is to reopen in-person programming on May 4th.  Our athletic leagues will also open at that time. 

Hill House is a nonprofit community who relies on our program fees and donations to remain a critical piece of the daily life and well-being of our downtown Boston community.  We are so grateful for all the support our community has shown us over the years and we are striving to continue to connect our neighbors and friends during these unchartered times.

We miss you and hope that you and your loved ones a healthy and secure.  Please, stay home and stay safe.  We are looking forward to seeing you all online this week and in person next month!

Warmest wishes,
Lauren Hoops-Schmieg
Executive Director

Update 3/13/20 8:00PM

 COVID-19 PREVENTION         COVID-19 FACT SHEET 

From the City of Boston: As the news regarding the coronavirus continues to evolve, together with our public health and public safety partners, The City of Boston is committed to identifying actions we can take collectively to prevent the spread of this virus and protect people from exposure. The Boston Public Health Commission and Boston EMS are preparing for all scenarios involving coronavirus to ensure we will have a safe and effective response. 


Our first priority remains to keep the people of Boston safe & healthy. It is our hope that by taking preventative steps now, we will mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Boston. We will continue monitoring the situation and will keep you informed as we learn more.

 

Update 3/12/20 11AM

Dear Hill House Community,

As you have seen on the news or may have been personally notified, several schools in Massachusetts have closed—including the Eliot School and Park Street School, due to potential exposure to by someone in their community who did have contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

We have always stated, the health and safety for our community members is our number one priority. While there haven’t been any reports of any of our staff or participants having been exposed, we do recognize there seems to be a good deal of overlap in our community with these schools.

Hill House has decided to suspend programs until March 30th effective at noon today (March 12, 2020). Out of an abundance of caution, and in timing with many of the local private school breaks, we hope this temporary suspension will help local officials and the medical community in trying to slow the risk of spread. We’ll have our cleaners come in and perform an intensive deep clean as an additional precaution.

We want our community to stay connected! All our administrative staff will be working from home during this period. We’ll be continuing our plans for spring including our baseball league! If you need to reach us, our phones are forwarded to our cell phones and we all have computers w/our emails, as well as have access to our work files and software applications at home—we are still here for you! Our Program staff is looking into ways we might be able to offer complementary online classes with some of our favorite instructors. They would be password protected for those registered in those classes. Stay tuned as we try to work out the logistics of this new initiative in these unchartered times.

The good news is that we have several potential make-up weeks built into our schedule. Our plans are to run the spring season in its entirety resuming on March 30th assuming that there is no additional guidance from local and state officials to be closed. Should there be any extension of the suspension of programming, we will notify you immediately.

We will miss you all incredibly over the next two weeks, but are certain that as a community, we’ll be able to come together even when we are apart. Stay healthy, get some rest, and we look forward to opening back up as soon as possible so that we can continue to be your backyard in the city.

Warmest wishes,
Lauren Hoops-Schmieg
Executive Director

Updated 3/11/20

What is Hill House Doing to Prepare? 
 

  • Will Hill House be closing? 

Hill House will follow the direction of local health officials.  As per our normal policy, if the Boston Public Schools close, Hill House will close the organization temporarily until Boston Public Schools reopen.  BPS will make these decisions in partnership healthcare experts and other community agencies and organizations. Also, should we be informed that any of our staff, instructors, or participants test positive for COVID-19, then we would close temporarily, perform a deep, disinfecting cleaning of the facility, and reopen once we have been told we are in the clear by appropriate state and local officials. If the decision is made to close Hill House temporarilyHill House will notify the Hill House community through email, text message, and our website promptly. 

 

  • What is Hill House doing to ensuring its facilities are clean and healthy?  

Hill House has contracted additional cleaning at both our 127 Mount Vernon Street (the Firehouse) and the 74 Joy Street facilities—which includes deeper cleaning, expanded disinfecting, and more staffing.  All cleaning supplies being used are in compliance with CDC guidelines. Hill House has sufficient supplies of soap on-hand and are ensuring that soap dispensers are constantly stocked and refilled throughout the day.  We’ve also increased the number of hand sanitizer stations throughout the building and instructors and coaches have increased frequency of wiping down all equipment and commonly used surfaces with disinfecting agents.   

 

  • What is Hill House’s policy in regards to cancellations, refunds, and postponements 

The health and safety of our staff, participants, and greater community is our highest priority.  We recognize that there are certain subsets of the population who are more at risk than others.  We are currently looking at each situation on a case-by-case basis.  If Hill House does have to close temporarily (2-3 weeks), we do have make-up weeks built in at the end of the spring (late May/early June) to complete a full season.  If for some reason, we are required to remain closed longer than 3 weeks, then we will pro-rate refunds and/or credits for future classes for any classes not run in their entirety.  

 

  • What about Hill House staff and instructors? We want them to be ok 

Hill House staff are like family.  We’ve asked staff to stay home if they feel unwell.  We have asked any administration staff who have recently traveled through airports to work from home for 14 days.  We’re also evaluating any future employee workshop and/or conference attendance, as we want to minimize large-group settings for them.   

We’ve also asked our part-time instructors and coaches to notify us of any health issues and/or travel via airports.  If they are sick, then they should stay home.  Per Massachusetts state law, they will have accrued sick time and we should be able to pay them accordingly.  In the short-term, while Hill House remains open, we will ask any instructors who have traveled to not instruct at Hill House for 14 days.  For those classes, we will postpone or find substitutes.  We will try to make sure that we minimize their personal economic impact. 

 

  • How is Hill House monitoring the changing situation? 

Our Executive Director, Lauren Hoops-Schmieg, is monitoring the situation hourly and has been in touch with local agencies, our Board of Directors, community partners, and healthcare experts to get advice.  We are closely watching CDC guidance, as well as the local and state officials on what steps are necessary to keep our community safe.  Hill House has provided guidance to our administrative staff, instructors and coaches, community partners, and tenants on how best to handle this evolving situation. 

 

  • How will Hill House share updated information? 

Until further notice, Hill House will update this website at least weekly, if not more, as we receive more information, even if only to inform the community that nothing has changed.  As necessary, Hill House will also communicate with families through texts, emails, and calls. 

 

2/28/20 Update:

We understand that many of you may have questions regarding the recent outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may impact our local community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing daily updates and recommendations. Please click on the following link to stay updated https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. 

While this is a public health concern, the CDC continues to report that the immediate risk to the general public remains low at this time. Yet, in today’s connected world, with a large number of families traveling during school vacation weeks and parents traveling for work, the potential for infectious disease is always of concern. As with seasonal flu and strep infections, there are general precautions we can all take to remain as healthy as possible.

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. You can also cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick whenever possible.
  • Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.  
  • It is important to keep children and caregivers home from programs when they are ill. If you, your child, or your caregiver have any of the following symptoms please keep them home and ask us about the potential for make-up classes: temperature greater than 100.4, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, any rash not yet diagnosed by a physician, red or pink itchy eye, and/or drainage from eye, and any contagious illness such as chicken pox, strep throat or flu. For additional guidance on when to keep you, your child, or your caregiver home, please refer to Flu Symptom Checklist.

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an evolving situation that we are following closely and will continue to update you as information is shared with us. Please rest assured that we are monitoring and adhering to guidance from the CDC, state and local officials, schools, and other community programs.

Additionally, we are vigilantly disinfecting and sanitizing our program spaces as we typically do during cold and flu season and have purchased additional hand sanitizers and Clorox wipes and sprays for each space to help augment the sanitizing that is already occurring. We've instructed our cleaning company to add more resources to ensure our spaces get deeper cleaning during this season. We've also asked our program instructors and coaches to spend more time before and after class disinfecting equipment between each class use.

The health and well-being of our participants, staff, volunteers, and community members is of utmost importance and we will continue to share new information with you, as necessary, about this evolving situation. If you have additional questions, you can also call the Department of Public Health Epidemiology line, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, at 617.983.6800. You can also refer to the DPH website at www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.