Back to school for St. John-Hudson USD 350 students

By Courtney Blankenship
Pratt Tribune
Tyrone the Tiger greeted students on the second day of school this year. The first day of classes was held Aug. 19.

School is officially back in session for St. John-Hudson USD 350, and despite the presence of new COVID-19 protocols, Superintendent and Elementary Principal, Josh Meyer, remains hopeful for a “normal” school year.

Meyer said the first day of school on August 19 “went off without a hitch,” and he said it was great to see kids back in the building.

“We have started off the year pretty normal. Masks are not required for staff or students at this time,” Meyer said. “We are distancing as we can, but have not adjusted schedules quite like we did last year. We anticipate needing to quarantine students to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when staff and students are exposed. However, we are utilizing a plan from KDHE [Kansas Department of Health and Environment] to allow daily testing to avoid a quarantine and keep kids in school as much as we can. We all need to be flexible and expect changes as the year progresses.”

While last year’s health restrictions heavily restricted the number of people allowed to attend activities and events, Meyer said the district anticipates being able to hold concerts, sporting events, and other activities as normal.

“However, we are still being cautious and will adjust as needed based on the circumstances,” Meyer said.

Specific details for district protocols can be found on the USD 350 website. While vaccinations are not required for staff or students, according to the “COVID Protocols 2021” PDF on the website, the vaccine is encouraged for anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated.

The same PDF states that at this point in time, “masks are not required for staff, students, or visitors” and there are no current crowd size limitations. There is no requirement for random testing of staff or students with no symptoms, and school closure of more than one or two days for COVID-19 related reasons should require board action; “The superintendent may close school per board policy.”

For this upcoming school year, Meyer said that all students will receive free lunch and breakfast through the federal school lunch program. There is no signup for this.