Douglas County school virus guidance remains in yellow tier

photo by: Sylas May/Journal-World Illustration

Douglas County schools returning from winter break will be able to begin with students at least partially in classrooms.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced Thursday its guidance to schools would remain in the yellow tier for another week, which will cover the first days of class for area school districts after their winter breaks conclude.

The yellow tier calls for county schools to also use hybrid or fully in-person learning models. The color-coded guidance is meant to help county school districts navigate reopening schools and conducting activities as the pandemic continues during the school year.

According to the health department’s data, the 14-day average of new cases remained relatively stable while the 14-day rate of positive cases has increased slightly. As of Thursday, the average number of cases is 44 and the positivity rate is 5.3%. Additionally, the county has 820 active cases for the virus.

“Our number of active cases are still high, and we would ask community members to continue to mask up, practice social distancing, wash their hands and stay home and call their provider if they begin to feel sick,” the health department said in the announcement.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Dec. 31 COVID-19 update from the health department

photo by: Lawrence Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate for Dec. 31. 2020.

Locally, each of the county’s communities have positivity rates that would suggest a yellow tier recommendation, while some are not far from the 5% threshold that could lead to a green tier. Lawrence has a positivity rate of 5.1%, Baldwin City has a 5.7% rate, Lecompton has a 5.9% rate and Eudora has a 6.4% rate.

Each of our public schools are set to return to class next week. Baldwin City begins Monday, Eudora begins Tuesday, Perry-Lecompton begins Wednesday and Lawrence begins Thursday.

The Perry-Lecompton school district this week announced it plans to begin classes with pre-K through sixth grade students attending classes daily. Students in seventh grade and up will use a hybrid in-person model.

The other schools have not provided any new updates yet, but Eudora finished its fall semester in the yellow tier and returned to its modified hybrid in-learning person model that allowed all students to attend classes in person four days a week. Baldwin City has used the same format for most of the fall semester, allowing pre-K through sixth grade students to attend classes in person daily while seventh grade and up attend on a hybrid schedule.

Lawrence, which has been using its hybrid in-person learning model, will follow its own virus guidance that was established just before winter break. District spokeswoman Julie Boyle previously told the Journal-World in December the district would review its own guidance closer to the beginning of the semester to decide how to begin. It appears the Lawrence guidance has not been updated since Dec. 17.

The Lawrence guidance can be found on its website, usd497.org.

The health department’s school guidance can be found on its website, ldchealth.org/457/Smart-and-Safe-School-Reopening. Both are updated on Thursdays.


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