Johnson County at ‘high’ COVID-19 risk again — see your school district’s latest case numbers

Johnson County school masks

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment says the county is once again at "high" risk from COVID-10 due to an increase in case numbers over the past two weeks. The rise in cases comes as cold weather and the holidays are approaching and as many school districts are rolling back their mask requirements for older students. File image.

Johnson County has seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, once again putting the area at “high” risk of community spread,  according to Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

The “high” risk label is due to the fact that the area has exceeded 100 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, according to JCDHE.

Currently, the county’s percent positivity has increased to 6.6%, up from 4.6% at the start of November.

The county’s incidence rate has also climbed to 145 cases per 100,000 residents, up from 86 per 100,000 at the start of the month, according to Johnson County’s online COVID-19 dashboard.

The uptick in cases comes as cold weather and the holidays are right around the corner, prompting local health officials to issue warnings ahead of Thanksgiving next week.

“As the holidays approach and temperatures drop, more of us will be gathering indoors which is the perfect environment for COVID-19 and flu to spread,” JCDHE said on its Facebook page Monday.

Health officials are also urging anyone eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot to get one.

That includes anyone 65 and older, those in high-risk professions and younger adults with prior medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the disease’s effects.

In addition, children ages 5 to 11 can get shots of the Pfizer vaccine, which has been given emergency-use authorization.

The rise in cases also come as Johnson County’s largest school districts are rolling back their masking requirements.

Masks have already been optional for high schoolers in USD 232, and after Thanksgiving, masks will also be optional for high school students in the Blue Valley and Olathe districts, too.

On Monday, the Shawnee Mission school board approved making masks optional for middle and high schoolers, starting Jan. 3.

Below is a breakdown of the latest school district’s data, and whether they are seeing a rise in cases.

Blue Valley

Since updating their COVID-19 dashboard last Friday, Blue Valley has seen a notable jump in the numbers of students who have tested positive for COVID-19, with a total of 69 students testing positive between Nov. 3 and Nov. 10.

That compares to the prior week, when 22 students districtwide received positive COVID tests.

Overall, 75 students and staff tested positive during that week. That is the single highest number of positive cases recorded in a week in Blue Valley since the start of the school year.

Additionally, Blue Valley reports 58 students and staff were in quarantine during the Nov. 3-Nov. 10 timeframe, an increase from 27 the week before.

With around 23,000 students in the district, the 69 positive cases represents about 0.3% of Blue Valley’s total population.

Shawnee Mission

A total of 54 students are currently in active exclusion for the week ending Friday, Nov. 12, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.

That is an increase from the the 46 students reported in the week prior.

While the number of positive has gone up in recent weeks, the current number of active exclusions remains lower than figures the district reported in the first few weeks of the year, when as many as 96 students were actively excluded.

According to the district, an active exclusion includes confirmed positive cases and presumed positive cases of individuals showing symptoms.

The 46 exclusions represents about 0.2% of the roughly 27,000 students in the Shawnee Mission district.

Olathe

Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 11, according to Olathe’s COVID-19 dashboard, a total of 42 new positive cases among students were recorded, an increase from 39 the previous week.

Currently, there are a total of 160 new student quarantines in the district. That is an increase from 103 reported the week before.

That figure is also the highest weekly number of student quarantines the district has reported since early September.

Out of 29,000 students, the 39 positive cases represent about 0.1% of the student population.

USD 232 in De Soto

The updated COVID-19 dashboard for USD 232 shows that between Nov. 6 and Nov. 12, a total of 11 students were excluded for isolation. That’s a slight increase from 9 the prior week.

Excluded for isolation is defined by the district as “an individual who tested positive or is presumed positive for COVID-19.”

At the same time, 30 students are being excluded for recommended quarantine due to these individuals coming in close contact with a COVID-positive person. That is an increase from 16 the week prior.

The 11 students who have tested positive represent about 0.1% of the student population of 7,346.