Douglas County school virus guidance downgraded to green tier for the first time since October

photo by: Sylas May/Journal-World Illustration

Douglas County’s school virus guidance has been downgraded to its lowest tier as cases for COVID-19 continue to fall.

Lawrence Douglas County Public Health announced Thursday its recommendation to schools would drop to the green tier, which recommend schools use fully in-person classes. 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.

The downgrade brings the guidance to the least-severe tier for the first time since October.

Dan Partridge, director of the health department, said the downgrade comes as key metrics for local spread of the virus continue to improve, including the 14-day average number of cases dropping to 21 and the 14-day average positivity rate remaining low at 2.9%.

Additionally, the total number of active cases fell again, dropping from 612 last week to 521 this week.

“We appreciate the community’s efforts to help get us back to phase green,” Partridge said in the announcement.

Locally the positivity rates remained low but all slightly increased. Lawrence’s rate increased to 2.6%, Baldwin City’s rate increased to 4.5%, Lecompton’s rate increased to 5.4% and Eudora’s rate increased to 6.3%.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Feb. 11 COVID-19 update from the health department

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s 14-day average positivity rate for Feb. 11, 2021.

Using its own gating criteria, the improving virus data appeared to again not make much a change for the Lawrence school district.

The district’s system collects data for five criteria related to the spread of the virus in the community and school district. That data is then put into a weighted system — giving some criteria more importance than others — to come up with an average rating, which then provides a learning method recommendation.

The district’s system appeared to provide a 1.9 average score on Thursday, which is the same score it produced the last several weeks. However, as of 5 p.m. Thursday, the district’s data had not been updated.

The average score would keep the district’s guidance in its yellow tier. The yellow tier calls for sixth grade and up to use hybrid, while pre-K to fifth grade uses hybrid or fully in-person learning. The district announced through social media last week that it would continue to use its hybrid learning model for two weeks and will provide another update on Feb. 18.

The factor keeping the district’s criteria in the yellow tier is the local two-week incidence rate for COVID-19, which came in at 252 on Thursday, according to the health department. While the rate continues to decline, it needs to drop to below 151 for the guidance to be downgraded to the green tier, which would call for fully in-person learning across the district.

However, the district is already on the path to move back to fully in-person learning. On Monday, Superintendent Anthony Lewis announced the district is working to bring students back to fully in-person classes five days a week in March.

The Lawrence guidance can be found on its website,

The health department’s school guidance can be found on its website, Both are updated on Thursdays.

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