Douglas County virus guidance remains in green tier for fourth straight week; Lawrence school district’s guidance close behind

photo by: Sylas May/Journal-World Illustration

Douglas County’s school virus guidance will remain at its lowest tier for the fourth straight week as key metrics for the spread 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.

Meanwhile, the Lawrence school district’s guidance inched closer to dropping to its lowest tier as well. If metrics improve again next week, the district’s guidance could drop to the green tier just in time for elementary schools to return to fully in-person learning as scheduled.

Both Douglas County’s 14-day average positivity rate and the 14-day average number of new cases per day have slightly fallen in the last week. According to the health department’s data, the positivity rate fell from 3.4% last week to 2.4% this week, while the average number of new cases per day fell from 12 to about 10. Additionally, the number of active cases in the community has fallen to 299.

“We continue to do well and continue to stay in Phase Green,” said Dan Partridge, director of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

Locally, the positivity rates were all at 3% or lower. Both Eudora and Baldwin City had 3% rates, while Lawrence had a 2.3% rate, and Lecompton had a 2.9% rate.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s COVID-19 14-day average positivity rate on March 4, 2021.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s COVID-19 14-day average new cases rate on March 4, 2021.

Like the county’s guidance, the Lawrence school district’s own guidance remained the same. However, the district’s metrics sit right on the edge of dropping the guidance to its green tier.

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 provided 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. However, the district will not have class next week because of spring break.

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 103 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to the district’s data. 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. Last month, Superintendent Anthony Lewis announced the district was working to bring students back to fully in-person classes five days a week in March. Elementary students are scheduled to return on March 15, and secondary education students are scheduled to return on March 29.

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.

Contact Dylan Lysen

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact reporter Dylan Lysen:


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.