Here’s what Johnson County schools’ COVID-19 cases look like days into new semester

SM South students masked in ceramics class

School is back in session for three Johnson County districts, which are beginning to report COVID-19 infection data among students and staff. Both SMSD and USD 232 reported their highest weekly case numbers of the year in the first three days back from break last week. Above, two Shawnee Mission South students masked in ceramics class. File photo.

School is back in session in Johnson County, and local school districts are starting to update their COVID-19 dashboards.

Three Johnson County school districts in the Post’s coverage area returned to class on Wednesday, Jan. 5 without mask mandates in place in high schools.

Nearly a week into classes, that’s changed.

As of Monday, all of Shawnee Mission’s 11 secondary schools were requiring masks, as were USD 232’s two high schools and at least four high school buildings in Blue Valley.

Districts also began reporting COVID-19 cases and quarantine numbers for the beginning of the spring semester, and the initial figures, as many expected, far surpass data from the first semester.

Here’s a look at each district’s numbers as of Jan. 10.

Shawnee Mission

Students went back to school in Shawnee Mission on Jan. 5, and the district’s COVID-19 dashboard updated on Jan. 10 with data from Jan. 5 to Jan. 7.

The dashboard currently there are 735 active student exclusions for positive and presumed positive cases — 411 exclusions in elementaries, 123 exclusions in middle schools and 201 exclusions in high schools.

Less than six of all the active student exclusions were exposed at school or in what the district calls a “school-other” setting, like lunch or extracurricular activities, according to the dashboard.

There are also 141 active staff exclusions in Shawnee Mission, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. Again, the district is reporting less than six of those cases were exposed at school.

This is the highest number of active exclusions the district has all school year for both students and staff, according to the dashboard.

The previous weekly high of student exclusions was 160, reported on Dec. 3.

USD 232

Like Shawnee Mission, USD 232 students returned to class on Jan. 5 and re-instituted a mask mandate at its two high schools, De Soto and Mill Valley, on Monday, Jan. 10.

USD 232’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 210 student exclusions for isolations and 213 recommended quarantines after the first three days of the spring semester.

There are also 38 staff exclusions for isolations, with 22 recommended quarantines.

As in Shawnee Mission, USD 232 is seeing more cases in elementary schools than in middle or high schools.

According to district data, there are 94 elementary student isolations, meaning a student tested positive or is presumed positive, and 108 elementary student quarantines, meaning a student was a close contact of a positive case.

In middle schools, there are currently 48 student isolations and 47 quarantines. In high schools, there are 65 student isolations and 52 quarantines.

Blue Valley

Blue Valley students returned to school the same day as Shawnee Mission and USD 232 students, but the district’s COVID-19 dashboard will not be updated until Friday, Jan. 14.

The last reported data from the week of Dec. 8 to Dec. 15 showed there were 147 positive COVID-19 cases in the district. Of those positive cases, 134 were students and 13 were staff.

There are indications that the rates of positive cases is going up in Blue Valley, too, after four high school campuses — Blue Valley North, BV Southwest, BV Academy and the district’s CAPS programs — all returned to mandatory masking.