Welcome to Lab

Information & Resources for New Families

We are thrilled that your child—and your family—will be joining our school community in the fall.

It is an exciting time, we know that you may have questions, and we are here to help! Our goal is to make you feel welcome and ready by the time school begins.

This Welcome to Lab Guide should answer some immediate questions you might have, and help manage your expectations about what has to happen (and when) for your family and child to be ready for the new school year.

Having reviewed this Welcome to Lab Guide, please feel free to contact the Office of Admissions, should you still have specific questions.

Welcome to Lab Guide & Quick Answers

Health requirements: now is a good time to schedule necessary medical check-ups

Very shortly you will receive an email from our school nurse sharing information about State of Illinois medical, dental, and vision requirements and forms. The nurse will also provide information and medical participation forms for Middle and High School sports teams.

Consider enrolling in Summer Lab. Registration is open now

Summer Lab runs June 19 through July 28 and offers opportunities for students age 3 to 18 to learn, connect, and discover—from sports and theater to urban adventure and academics. More information, including dates and fees, can be found online here:


The “Planning/No School” calendars are online

Also known as “academic calendars,” these show all of the days that Lab has vacation breaks and days when school is not in session. You can access these at the bottom of every page of Lab’s website and on New Family Resource webpage:


Key dates before the start of school

As you make end-of-summer plans, below are some important dates to bear in mind:

  • Wednesday, August 9, High School fall sports practices begin (with some exceptions)
  • Monday, August 28, Middle School fall sports practices begin
  • Week of August 28, exact dates TBD: New family and student orientations, grades N3–8
  • Thursday, August 31, High School only: new student and parent/guardian orientations
  • Thursday–Friday, August 31–September 1, U-High Freshman Overnight Retreat
  • Tuesday, September 5, first day of school!

Student Bus Service

Lab provides daily commuter bus service to an array of Chicago neighborhoods, primarily on the North Side. Registration for this service is now open and can be accessed below. Routes are subject to cancellation if they are under-enrolled.


Registering students in grades 6–12 for fall athletics teams

Soon you will receive a separate email from David Ribbens, Lab’s athletics director, telling you about the interscholastic sports program available to students in grades 6–12. In that letter, he will invite you to register for fall sports before May 5. As you plan for your end-of-summer, know that fall sports practices begin August 9 for most High School teams and on August 28 for all Middle School teams.

School hours and planning for childcare and parent schedules during week one

To families with students entering nursery or kindergarten: during the first week of school, school hours are often shortened and different classrooms may have different schedules. While you will receive detailed information in the first week of August as part of the “Back to Lab” process, please be aware that you may need extra childcare or flexibility that week. Regular school hours are below and on the New Family Resource webpage:


Lab offers before- and after-school programs and enrichment classes through a program we call Extended Day

Learn more about what we offer at each grade level, and the hours the programs are in operation, here: http://www.ucls.uchicago.edu/admissions/extended-d.... Early enrollment materials will be sent to you at the beginning of May with regular enrollment opening during the summer.

Where will my child have lunch? And more about “Café Lab” and ordering milk, juice, and meal plans

From full-day nursery until grade 5, children eat with their classmates and teachers in the classroom. The Middle and High Schools each have separate lunch periods in the cafeteria called the Café Lab Dining Hall (also known as The Caf). While many families send their children to school with bag lunches, Lab offers options to purchase beverages, bag lunches, and food on site.

You will be able to sign up for these services in early August as part of the “Back ot Lab” process:

  • Annual Milk & Juice Plan, grades K–5: Milk and juice options (starting at about $100/school year) are distributed to classrooms each day at lunch time.
  • Bag Lunch Plan, grades N–5: The program offers online ordering and a variety of options. The student's lunch is then delivered to the classroom on the selected day. A standard bag lunch is currently priced at $6.
  • A la carte cafeteria and Café Lab dining plan, grades 6–12: Students (and parents!) may purchase food and beverages from the dining hall, snack bar, and coffee shop. Students may pay with cash, credit/debit card, or use their student ID like a debit card—families load money onto their student's card using “FreedomPay,” and then students receive a 10% discount on their purchases.

In mid-July, new families receive login credentials for PowerSchool, Lab’s student information system and website login credentials

  • “PowerSchool” is Lab’s password-protected access point to confidential student and family information—grade/progress reports, student schedules, and family emergency and other contact information. On July 17, you will receive an email from Lab’s registrar with instructions on how to create a PowerSchool account. If you do not receive instructions on July 17, please email registrar@ucls.uchicago.edu.
  • About a week later, you will receive login credentials that will give you access to the parent section of the Lab website. The parent section of the website connects you to useful information and it is here you will go to do a number of things like: order lunch or milk from Cafe Lab; report an absence; find forms, including medical and athletics forms. These same credentials will allow you to access Lab’s learning management system, Schoology. Rather than overwhelm you now, Lab will share information about this later.

When will I learn about my child’s schedule and teacher assignments?

  • Nursery/Kindergarten and Primary School: Each year, our principals work closely with teachers and school counselors to create diverse, dynamic classes that represent the best fit for each child. You will learn about your child’s class placement as part of the “Back to Lab” process in early August.
  • Lower School: Each year, our principal works closely with teachers and Learning & Counseling faculty to create well-balanced classroom communities. You will learn your child’s class placement as part of the “Back to Lab” process in August.
  • Middle School: Teachers and counselors review each new student’s academic record to determine placement in world language, math, and music courses. All other course placements are by grade. Administrators will contact you if they need more information. You will receive your child’s detailed schedule as part of the “Back to Lab” process in early August.
  • High School: All new High School students and their families have been invited to spend a half-day at Lab in April learning about the program of studies and completing their course registration. Assessments to determine placement in mathematics and world language will be given, as needed. If you have questions about your half-day visit please contact Assistant Principal Asra Ahmed, aahmed@ucls.uchicago.edu, 773-702-9446.

Starting July 17 in PowerSchool (see above) High School students can access a listing of their courses with instructions for ordering books. Detailed schedules including courses, teachers, and class meeting times will be shared as part of the “Back to Lab” process in early August.

At the start of August families receive teacher assignments, class schedules, and detailed information about arrival/dismissal times, drop-off/pick-up procedures, ordering textbooks and PE uniforms, and more

Each new school year kicks off for new and returning families at the start of August. We call the process “Back to Lab.” You will receive an email prompting you to start the Back to Lab process through PowerSchool. Before you access your documents, you will be asked to update/verify your family and emergency contact information. Once you do that, you’ll have access to both “need to know” information you will you need to start the school year with ease and “nice to know” information that you can peruse at your leisure.

If your student has a diagnosed learning difference or existing IEP that Lab should know about

Should you wish to discuss an existing IEP or learning difference with the Schools, please contact Director of Student Services Nicole Neal, nneal@ucls.uchicago.edu.

Tuition, billing, and payment

The University of Chicago Office of the Bursar manages Lab’s tuition payment. Information about paying Lab tuition (including quarterly billing dates and information about education-related benefits for University-affiliated families) is online:


Tuition rates and details about what tuition covers can be found online: https://www.ucls.uchicago.edu/admissions/tuition

What other fees should I expect beyond tuition? How are they billed and paid?

Some school expenses are not included in Lab’s stated tuition and fees, such as: textbooks, gym clothes in grades 5–12, musical instrument rental and accessories, or photography supplies. Additional fees may also be required for departmental activities, field trips, and Advanced Placement examinations. The total of these additional fees varies depending on your student’s grade level and participation in available school programs.

Other optional fees include, but are not limited to: Extended Day programs, foreign exchange programs, some athletic team equipment, cafeteria meal plans, and extracurricular club conferences and field trips (such as travel to Model United Nations or debate competitions).

Lab uses a separate system, FACTS, to collect payments for additional charges, including certain field trips, classroom materials, Extended Day, and other miscellaneous items and activities. If your family is new to Lab, you will receive an email from FACTS the very first time charges post to your account. Only then will you be required to set up your account to pay your bill.

About the Parents’ Association and the PA Mentor Program

Upon enrollment, all parents and legal guardians automatically become members of the Parents’ Association (PA). The PA advances educational excellence by fostering a spirit of community among parents, administration, faculty, and students. Throughout the year, its Board organizes a variety of activities to support and empower families, including matching new families with a mentor. The PA welcomes you to Lab, and you can expect to hear more about the Mentor Program in late May/early June.