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Posted on: August 19, 2020

FAQs for Education Reopening

School Guidance

As part of Education Unified Command response, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health has developed the following COVID-19 Smart and Safe School Reopening Guidance to assist K-12 school districts and families in decision-making for the upcoming school year.

The guidelines are available at douglascountyks.org/coronavirus or ldchealth.org/coronavirus . Data and information pertaining to the recommendations will be updated on this page on Thursday of each week.

Read these FAQs for more information as well.

Will results from the University of Kansas testing of faculty and students appear in the county’s COVID-19 numbers? 

  • Results from that testing will appear in our aggregate numbers we release every weekday, including all new positive cases. These numbers are available at https://ldchealth.org/456/Case-Numbers-Data . We have been actively working with KU and KDHE to ensure all cases from KU testing are included in our Douglas County numbers. Generally, a COVID-19 positive case is assigned to the county where the person is currently living — so not the person’s permanent address if they are a college student originally from another county or state — to help with the disease investigation, contact tracing and isolation efforts to ensure the best public health efforts are in place to keep the person from potentially exposing others in the community.  

Where can I find information about the current recommended phase for schools?

What happens if two metrics contradict each other, like the moving average number of new cases and the positivity rate?

  • We update our recommendation with the phases for education guidance every Thursday, and the Education Unified Command leaders will take into account the fact a large testing event is influencing the metrics as we announce the recommended phase for the week.

What are the metrics guiding the school phase recommendation?

Why is the criteria is different in the Smart and Safe School Reopening Guidance developed by the Education Unified Command from the benchmarks or targets in the Douglas County Scorecard?

Each indicator was developed for the purpose of guiding decisions specific to each case based on the best science and medical advice we have - in the first one for the broader reopening of the community including specific businesses and activities after the stay-home order ended and the second one to help schools make decisions on when to offer in-person instruction and activities and when to institute mitigation practices.

The Community Scorecard was developed by the Douglas County Unified Command leaders before the end of the stay-home order to help guide leaders on decisions related to reopening businesses and types of activities based on risk level, as it takes into account measures for the level of community spread of COVID-19 and healthcare surge capacity. The scorecard is updated every Friday.

The school criteria are based on measures that medical experts deemed specific to help with these decisions, including the community’s case situation, including the average of new cases per day and the positivity rate as well as decisions that would help schools particularly like the absentee rate and staffing rate. These recommendations may also change as we learn more about the pandemic and how it affects our community. Utilizing the structure of a unified command response allows LDCPH, school districts and our partners to work closely together to continuously monitor community and school conditions and make adjustments as appropriate. We plan to make announcements on the recommended phase in the plan every Thursday.

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