Douglas County virus guidance for schools remains in green tier for 3rd straight week

photo by: Sylas May/Journal-World Illustration

Douglas County’s school virus guidance will remain at its lowest tier for the third 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.

Both the 14-day average positivity rate and the 14-day average number of new cases per day have fallen in the last week. According to the health department’s data, the positivity rate fell from 4.1% last week to 3.4% this week, while the average number of new cases per day fell from 18 to about 12. Additionally, the number of active cases in the community has fallen by more than 100 since last week, to 391.

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

Locally, the positivity rates were all below the 5% threshold, except for Lecompton, which was at 7.1%. Lawrence’s rate was 3.4%, Eudora’s was 2.5%, and Baldwin City’s was 2.9%.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s COVID-19 14-day average of new cases per day for Feb. 25, 2021

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s COVID-19 14-day average test positivity rate for Feb. 25, 2021

Like the county’s guidance, the Lawrence school district’s own guidance appeared to remain the same as last week. However, the district isn’t scheduled to update the guidance again until March 4, according to the district’s website.

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 appeared to provide a 1.6 score on Thursday, which is a better score than recent weeks, but keeps the guidance just barely within the yellow tier. A 1.5 score would move the district to its green tier.

The yellow tier calls for grades six and higher to use hybrid learning and for pre-K to fifth grade to use hybrid or fully in-person learning. The district announced through social media last week that it would continue to use its hybrid learning model through March 5.

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 147 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to the health department. While the incidence rate continues to decline, it needs to fall below 101 cases per 100,000 people for the overall 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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