"Think of our Return to School Plan like a vibrant patchwork quilt that comforts and covers our entire community as we all join together to be Safe, Healthy, Flourishing and Connected."

- Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley

Return to School 2021 Key Points

Here is what you need to know

  • In-person instruction will be held five days a week for all grades in all schools.

  • A long-term, at home virtual learning option is available for students. However the district highly encourages students to attend in-person instruction in their school buildings.

  • The District's new Return to School Guide is rooted in science, CDC guidelines and recommendations from our health experts at Washington University. The Guide may change as guidelines and recommendations change.

  • The plan strives to ensure our community is safe, healthy, flourishing and connected.

  • Masking is required in all district buildings. Students in grades preK-12 must wear a face mask while in buildings.

  • Physical distancing of 3 to 6 feet will continue in all buildings when possible.

  • The District will no longer use a health screening app. Parents will be sent reminders every school morning to assess their children and household members for symptoms of COVID-19 before the start of the school day.

  • For more details, read the complete Back to School Guide.

District Releases New August 2021 Return to School Planning Guide

The guide explains the complete District plan to keep our entire community Safe, Healthy, Flourishing and Connected during a global pandemic.

The school District of University City is pleased to announce the release of its new August 2021 Return to School Guide which details how the District will maintain a safe, healthy, flourishing and connected community amid COVID-19.

The guide explains the District's safety and health protocols in addition to plans for social and emotional wellness, rigorous and relevant instruction, racial equity, enrichment through athletics and other activities, and more. The guide further provides contact information by school, including principals, nurses and others. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section at the end of the guide.

Please note, everything in the guide is fluid and may be subject to change as the year progresses given the unpredictable nature of COVID-19. The District remains committed to science, public health metrics, and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our medical expert partners at Washington University. We will continue to work in collaboration with our full community to ensure everyoone is connected and fully informed.

A PDF of the guide can be found at www.ucityschools.org/2021ReturntoSchool or here:

Get Tested!

The District has partnered with Washington University to provide students, staff, and affiliated household members with free COVID-19 saliva testing if they have any symptoms. The testing is available Sunday through Friday by calling 314-454-4269. For a complete list of drive-through testing locations, click here.

Also in partnership with Washington University, University City High School students and staff are highly encouraged to sign-up for free weekly saliva testing. To register/consent for the high school testing program, contact: SchoolTracing@wustl.edu. To learn more about the testing, click here. For FAQs, click here.

Alternative testing
Free COVID-19 testing can also be obtained by calling the St. Louis County Department of Health at 314-615-0574. Or, sign up online for a testing appointment here.

Connected: Key Dates

  • October 22, Early Release Day

  • October 30, Trunk or Treat and Pumpkin Stroll, Jackson Park Elementary School and the high school. More details here.

  • November 16, 6 to 7:30 p.m., districtwide STEAM Expo. Event will be virtual. More details soon.

Safe and Healthy: Learning Links

Connected: Superintendent Updates & Zooms

Zoom with the Superintendent

Join Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley on Zoom too get updates, answer your questions and address any concerns. Check the calendar for upcoming sessions. Or click here to register for the next sessions.

Emails from the Superintendent

The superintendent also sends regular parent emails, typically on Friday afternoons when school is in session. The emails contain important information regarding COVID-19 updates, schedule modifications, parent surveys and District news. If you miss an email, no worries. All of her emails are archived here.

Healthy: Your Actions Matter

Remember: Stay Home if You are Sick

Students and staff must not come to school if they are sick, quarantining or waiting for COVID-19 test results. Do not come to school if you have a current respiratory illness and/or symptoms of COVD-19 or known exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. If any of these apply, parents should notify their child's school nurse. Staff should notify the Human Resources Department.

Important: Report COVID-19 test results for you or any member of your household

It is critical to let designated District staff know the results of any COVID-19 regardless of whether the result is positive or negative.

  • Students - Contact your building’s school nurse.

  • Staff Members - Contact the HR Department.

COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Fever or chills (100ºF or greater)

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Safe: District Protocols

Health checks

  • Parents and staff are asked to assess the health of their children and others in their household every morning before coming to school.

  • Email reminders will be sent every morning with a list of COVID-19 symptoms to check for.

  • Parents must contact their child's school nurse if they have symptoms.

  • Parents and staff should stay home if they have symptoms.

Enhanced cleaning

  • A regular cleaning schedule will be used with an emphasis on high touch surfaces, including sinks, bathrooms and water bottle filling stations.

  • The district has reduced need to touch objects/ doors with no-touch waste containers, prop open doors, etc.

  • Staff will reinforce “no sharing” of food, water bottles, utensils, pens and pencils and art equipment.

  • All toys and equipment will be made of materials that can be cleaned and disinfected.


  • Students who come to the nurse’s office feeling sick will be sent home.

  • Those with symptoms of COVID-19 will be cared for separately from other students/ staff using health department protocols. An emergency contact will be called to pick them up.

  • Nurses will have protective gear to use when working with students and the health rooms will be cleaned frequently.

  • Students and staff who are sick with COVID-19 or suspected to be sick with COVID-19 should stay home.

Physical Distancing
& Masking

  • Masking is required of all students (preK-12), staff, partners and visitors in schools.

  • If students or visitors do not have a mask, masks will be provided by the District.

  • Classroom furniture, including desks, chairs, tables, etc., will be set up arranged to maximize physical distancing to the extent possible in the classroom.

  • Larger gatherings will be held outside, if possible.

  • Spectators for indoor athletic events will be distanced.

Protective supplies

  • Staff will be provided with masks, gloves, sanitizers and other protective gear according to their needs and job duties.

  • Students who need masks will be provided one.

  • Plexiglass barriers have been placed in certain offices and areas of high interaction.

Wipes, sanitizers, fountains & sinks

  • Hand sanitizing stations have been added throughout all U. City buildings.

  • Classrooms and offices will have hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes readily available for use on a regular basis throughout the day.

  • Restroom sinks have been retrofitted to be hands-free.

  • Most water fountains have been retrofitted with water bottle fillers. Those without them will be closed.

Visitor limits

  • Most visitors, including parents/guardians, will not be allowed to enter U City schools on a walk-in basis. However, parents will be able to escort younger children to class on their first day of school.

  • Visitors who must enter the building are asked to call ahead. They should not enter the building if they have COVID-19, are in quarantine, or have someone in their household with COVID-19.


  • Age-appropriate signage has been placed throughout all buildings to remind individuals of hand hygiene, proper hand washing, symptoms the importance of staying home when sick.

  • Other signs will serve as physical distancing reminders.

Healthy: Contact Tracing

The District has assembled a team of contact tracers and on-call medical experts from Washington University to safely manage instances when a possible active case of COVID-19 arises in the district.

Examples of the type of work the contact tracing team engages in when there is a positive case include:

  • Developing a timeline to determine when the person who tested positive for COVID-19 started experiencing symptoms to accurately calculate the 48-hour period before the person began to experience COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Identifying students and staff who meet the CDC definition of having “close contact” with a person testing positive for COVID-19 based on class schedules and assignments.

  • Supporting the school and district administration in developing and implementing a communication plan (phone calls, letters, emails, etc.).

  • Informing the teaching and learning department of students who are under quarantine so their educational programming can be determined.

  • Currently, fully vaccinated students and staff who are determined to be a close contact do not have to quarantine at home unless they begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Students and staff who are not fully vaccinated and are determined to be a close contact must quarantine.

  • For full guidelines, see pages 7 and 8 of the Return to School Guide.


The District pledges its full attention to academic and social emotional wellness in the 2021-22 academic year so that its community of students, staff, families and partners flourish. Please see pages 9-13 of the Return to School Guide for a full description of our Flourishing plan. The plan highlights:

  • Mental Health & Well-Being with increased resources

  • Rigorous & Relevant Learning with new curriculum and continued professional development

  • Racial Equity in all aspects of our community

  • Enrichment through activities, special events, field trips, clubs and athletics.

The Peace Place

Parenting, teaching, working, learning, daily life, sudden change and even positive growth can sometimes be stressful. The Peace Place gives you tools for relaxation, mindfulness and calm. We hope you find these resources helpful as you take time for important self care.

Community Resources

The safety and well-being of our students, staff and families is always a top priority, especially in this stressful time. Our Student Services Office has put together a list of resources and contact information if you need help.

Connected: Communications

A new school year in the midst of a pandemic brings challenges, opportunities and last-minute changes, requiring patience and flexibility. As changes arise, U City will communicate using its automated system for email, and sometimes texts and phone messages.

Please make sure your contact information is up to date in the Parent Portal (Sisk-12) as well as your emergency contacts, and watch for updates to ensure you stay informed. Updates to your contact information can also be made by contacting your child’s school office.