Douglas County school virus guidance continues in green tier for second week

photo by: Sylas May/Journal-World Illustration

Douglas County’s school virus guidance will remain at its lowest tier for the second straight week as new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall.

On Thursday, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health announced that its guidance to schools would stay in the green tier, which recommends that 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.

Although the 14-day average test positivity rate for the virus has increased, the 14-day average number of new cases per day continues to fall. According to the health department’s data, the positivity rate increased from 2.9% last week to 4.1% this week, while the average number of new cases per day fell from 21 to about 18. Additionally, the number of active cases in the community has fallen by about 20 since last week, to 500.

“Metrics have remained steady in recent weeks and the 14-day moving average of new cases per day continues to trend downward,” the health department said in its announcement. “We appreciate the community’s efforts to help keep us in phase green.”

Lawrence’s test positivity rate increased over the past week, from 2.6% to 3.8%; Baldwin City’s rate also increased slightly, from 4.5% to 4.8%. Lecompton’s rate dropped from 5.4% to 3.1%, and Eudora’s rate dropped from 6.3% to 5.9%.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s 14-day average positivity rate for Feb. 18, 2021.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Feb. 18 COVID-19 update from the health department

Like the county’s guidance, the Lawrence school district’s virus scoring method has stayed at the same level as last week.

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 formula — 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 again provided a 1.9 score on Thursday, which is the same score it produced the last several weeks. That score keeps the district’s guidance in its yellow tier.

The yellow tier calls for grades six and higher to use hybrid learning and for pre-K to fifth grade students to use hybrid or fully in-person learning. The district announced through social media it would continue to use its hybrid learning model for the next two weeks.

The factor keeping the district’s guidance in the yellow tier is the local two-week incidence rate for COVID-19. On Thursday, that metric came in at 183 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to the district’s website. While the incidence rate continues to decline, it needs to fall below 151 cases per 100,000 people for the guidance to be downgraded to the green tier, which would call for fully in-person learning across the district.

The district is already preparing for a move back to fully in-person learning. Earlier this month, Superintendent Anthony Lewis announced the district was working to bring students back to fully in-person classes five days a week in mid-March.

The Lawrence district’s 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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