Johnson County schools update COVID-19 case numbers — see where your district stands

Students line up

Blue Valley and Olathe both reported increases in their weekly COVID-19 case numbers, while Shawnee Mission and USD 232 saw declines. Meanwhile, county health officials say they remain wary of spread in schools after hundreds of middle schoolers were quarantined after a "high-risk exposure" to a positive case in the Gardner-Edgerton district. Above, students walk in line at Rushton Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District. File photo.

Note: The Shawnee Mission Post is making much of its local coverage of the coronavirus pandemic accessible to non-subscribers. (If you value having a news source covering the situation in our community, we hope you’ll consider subscribing here.

The pace of new COVID-19 infections in Johnson County appears to be leveling off somewhat, though local health officials say they continue to monitor potential spread in schools after the Gardner-Edgerton district put hundreds of students in quarantine following exposure to a positive case.

Through a few weeks of in-person classes, all four public school districts that serve northern Johnson County have updated their online COVID-19 dashboards at least twice now.

Here is a breakdown of the latest data, and whether districts are seeing a rise or fall in cases.

Blue Valley

On Friday, the district updated its COVID-19 dashboard, which showed 48 students with confirmed positive cases during the period from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. That’s an increase from 39 the previous reporting period.

In addition, Blue Valley reports 182 students and staff in quarantine betweenAug. 25 and Sept. 1, an increase from 123 the week before.

The 48 positive cases represents roughly .02% of the district’s total population, which is about 21,600 students last year.

Shawnee Mission

Updated on Tuesday, Aug. 30, the district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows there are 73 students currently in active exclusion for the week ending on Aug. 27. That is a decline from 96 active exclusions reported for the week ending on Aug. 20.

Active exclusions, as defined by SMSD, include confirmed positive cases and presumed positive cases of individuals showing symptoms of the disease.

The 73 exclusions represent roughly .03% of the district’s total student population of roughly 27,000.

There are also 12 staff members in active exclusion currently, which is an increase from the previous reporting period. In its first report for the week ending on Aug. 20, SMSD reported less than six staff exclusions.

A grade level breakdown of student exclusions in SMSD include:

  • 46 elementary students (up from 42 the previous week)
  • 8 middle school students (down from 18 the previous week)
  • 18 high school students (down from 36 the previous week)

Olathe

An updated report the district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows there are currently 99 new positive cases among students. That’s an increase from 76 reported the week before.

There are currently 318 new quarantines among students, an increase from 138 in the prior reporting period.

The 99 positive cases represents about .03% of the total student population of roughly 29,000, and the 318 quarantines represents .1% of all students.

There are 15 new cases among staff, a decline from the previous week’s total of 31.

And there are 34 new quarantines among staff members, down from 48 the previous week.

USD 232 in De Soto

The updated USD 232 COVID-19 dashboard reflects data recorded from Aug. 23 through Aug. 29.

In that period, there were 26 students excluded for recommended isolation, an increase from 18 during the previous week. USD 232 defines those needing isolation as “an individual who tested positive or is presumed positive for COVID-19.”

There are currently 28 students excluded for recommended quarantine, a decrease from 32 the previous week. Those recommended for quarantine are individuals who were in close contact with a COVID-positive individual.

The 26 students who have tested positive represent .04% of the student population of 7,346, according to the district’s dashboard.

There are currently two staff members excluded for isolation and two staff members in quarantine.

Overall county trends

Johnson County’s percent positivity has dropped to 8.7%, after reaching a late-summer peak of nearly 10% in mid-August.

The county’s incidence rate remains elevated at 387 cases per 100,000 residents, but that metric has been relatively flat over the past month after a sharp increase in July.

Currently, Johnson County’s vaccination rate sits at 60.2%, according to the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. (CDC data currently reports nearly 73% of eligible Johnson County residents are fully vaccinated. Data collected by the CDC includes individuals who may have been vaccinated in other states.

The safety of children continues to be a talking point among county health officials following a “high-risk exposure” at a Gardner-Edgerton middle school, prompting that district to quarantine 231 middle school students.

There is also concern about the lingering physical and psychological impacts COVID-19 infections have on children, similar to “long haul” symptoms seen in some adults.

KCUR reported this week that the University of Kansas Health System is tracking a group of 10 to 15 young patients who are experiencing “long haul” physical symptoms, like brain fog, dizziness and shortness of breath, but are also displaying signs of depression and anxiety.

Without a vaccination for children 12 and younger, the county health department says it continues to rely on COVID-19 policies at local schools to help contain the spread.

County officials continue to urge individuals to wear masks regardless of vaccination status and practice social distancing, though Johnson County remains the only “Core 4” government in the Kansas City metro without a countywide mask mandate.

They also warn residents to take precautions, including masking in public, over the long Labor Day weekend, which will likely see an uptick in people traveling around the metro.

Here are some key COVID-19 metrics in Johnson County:

  • Percent Positive: 8.7%, 14-day average (a decrease of 9.5% on Aug. 25)
  • Incidence rate: 389 new cases per 100,000 persons over prior 14 days (an increase of 8 since Aug. 25)
  • Cumulative cases: 54,486 (an increase of 1,244 over prior 14 days)
  • Total deaths: 732 (an increase of 8 since Aug. 25)

Vaccination opportunities this week:

The county will be offering a walk-in vaccination clinic on Thursday, Sept. 9 at Redemption Church, 515 S. Ridgeview Rd. in Olathe from 5-8 p.m.

Vaccines are also available on a walk-in basis at the county’s main permanent walk-in clinic in Mission, 6000 Lamar Ave., Suite 140. That clinic is open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.

Individuals can also get vaccinated at JCDHE’s walk-in clinic in Olathe, as well.

An updated list of clinics hosted by the JCDHE can be found here. Each week, vaccination clinics will be offered across Johnson County.