Douglas County school virus guidance remains in green tier; Lawrence district’s guidance moves to green for first time

photo by: Sylas May/Journal-World Illustration

Douglas County’s school virus guidance will remain at its lowest tier for the sixth straight week as key metrics for the spread of COVID-19 remain low.

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, a key metric’s improvement in the Lawrence school district’s criteria moved its guidance into the green tier for the first time, recommending the district move to fully in-person learning.

Both Douglas County’s 14-day average positivity rate and the 14-day average number of new cases per day have remained low in the last week. According to the health department’s data, the positivity rate remained at 2.3% this week, while the average number of new cases per day fell to nine. Additionally, the number of active cases in the community has fallen slightly to 230.

Locally, the positivity rates were mostly steady compared to last week. Lecompton’s rate increased from 0% to 5.1%, while Eudora’s increased from 4.1% to 5.3%. Meanwhile, Lawrence had a 2.1% rate and Baldwin City had a 1.1% rate.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s 14-day average for new COVID-19 cases on March, 18, 2021.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Douglas County’s 14-day average for COVID-19 positivity rate on March, 18, 2021.

The Lawrence school district’s own guidance on Thursday provided a 1.3 score, crossing the 1.5 threshold that allows the guidance to move into its green tier for the first time since it was installed in December.

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 guidance had been providing a 1.6 score for weeks, leaving it on the edge of the yellow tier. The one factor that was keeping the district’s guidance in the yellow tier in recent weeks was the local two-week incidence rate for COVID-19. While the incidence rate had been declining for weeks, it had to fall below 101 cases per 100,000 people for the guidance to be downgraded to the green tier. On Thursday, the incidence rate fell to 82.6.

While the guidance moved to green this week, data suggested it would have changed to green last week, when the metric was at 97.3 new cases per 100,000 people over the prior two weeks, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. However, the district did not update its guidance while it was on spring break.

The district has already begun its 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 returned on Monday, 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 typically updated on Thursdays.

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