Re-Opening 2020-21



First Release: July 15, 2020   |   Updated August 12, 2020

After much thought and training, we have settled on the first phase of our plan for returning to the building. We are basing it primarily on the work and recommendations of The Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium for COVID-19. Although this plan focuses mainly on the steps we are taking to return to campus, it is subject to change as the COVID situation evolves. As the school year progresses, the plan will be constantly evaluated with the latest requirements, recommendations, and best practices.

Our overarching goal is to balance safety needs and government recommendations with the developmental needs of our students, aiming to give them the most “normal” experience possible while delivering our mission without compromise. Our plan is to take advantage of our small size and cohort our groups so that students and staff will have minimal contact with all but their regular class. Student life can continue as per usual within these cohorts.

All members of our Fulton School community — students, parents, faculty and staff — share the responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is important that we all remain committed to the procedures and policies in this handbook, as well as all future communications, in order to do our best to maintain the safety of all members of our community.

This school year promises to be the most unique on record as we all face tremendous uncertainty, stark differences of opinion, and a wide range of anxiety and frustration. My hope is that Fulton School can be an oasis of calm, kindness, and grace amidst the craziness around us. This is what your children need most, and this is something we all long for.

The In-Person Experience
Our focus will also be to provide the best learning experience possible under the circumstances, with a preference to retaining the in-person classroom experience. We have put particular emphasis on in-person options for toddler through third grade, recognizing the extra difficulty of the online experience for our youngest students. If officials issue a stay-at-home order during the 2020-21 school year that prevents us from having toddler through third grade on campus, we will work with parents to evaluate available options, such as revisions to the academic calendar.

Our Expectations
We expect this to be a year that requires outrageous flexibility. We might be in school for a few weeks, then have to stay at home for a few weeks. We might have to transition to Upper School online at home, with Lower School in the classroom. We might make calendar adjustments to shorten the week or take time out of the building for the upper grades. We expect absences to be high, and we expect students and teachers to sometimes be home when they’re not even sick. We will roll with it all. We will take it one day at a time. And we will work together to make it a safe year, but a great year.

The Establishment of Cohorts
The idea behind cohorting is that you become a family. You’re in it together, risks and all. Following all of these precautions is going to get hard. We won’t do it perfectly all of the time. Having cohorts at school reduces the number of people you come in contact with, thereby limiting your risk and the spread without sacrificing the students’ quality of education.

Epidemiologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital with whom we consulted feel that it’s also the only truly realistic option -- no group can truly follow all precautions eight hours a day for months.

We will have five cohorts:

  • Toddler/Preschool/Kindergarten
  • 123
  • 456
  • Middle School (7-8)
  • High School (9-12)

What does this mean for the school day?

  • The building will be open daily and the majority of learning will take place on campus. Students in grades 4 through 12 will have online options. We expect to pivot quickly between online and on-campus teaching based on possible student, teacher, and staff absences.
  • Students in 1st through 12th grade are required to wear face masks (shields - only with permission), but teachers will allow for “mask breaks” when the risk is low (i.e. when students are outside, socially distanced, or alone).
  • All TFS faculty and staff are required to wear face masks/shields, removing them only when the risk is low (i.e. when they are alone, socially distanced, or outside).
  • Interactions between cohorts will be limited. 
  • Teachers will cohort with their homerooms. 
  • Teachers will spread kids out when possible. 
  • Teachers who move between cohorts will “scrub in and out” and wear masks.
  • All students grades 6-12 staying after dismissal, waiting for rides, etc. are required to wear masks in the building and social distance, as we are unable to supervise during that time.

Details Within a Cohort
Find out what the school day will look like within a particular cohort by clicking the links below:


Middle School (7-8)
High School (9-12)

Additional Details

Our Facilities
Symptoms, Screenings and Absences
Your Family's Commitment