The COVID-19 incidence rate is the key metric the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) looks at when determining the current recommended phase for schools. However, JCDHE also considers several other factors when changing the recommendations to school districts. JCDHE also looks at the trend of positivity rate and additional indicators including the trend of cases, the capacity of the school districts to assist in case investigations and contact tracing, and public health capacity. JCDHE also considers the risk of spread within school buildings which can be minimized by the schools’ ability to implement mitigation measures (e.g., masking, distancing, etc.). Other considerations are factors such as student mental health, educational needs, and the impacts on families and school staff. These factors must be considered together in making decisions about the recommended learning mode.
JCDHE does not recommend changing learning modes with every change in incidence rate or other metrics. Health department staff monitor these metrics daily and will make additional recommendations to the districts when/if the ability to implement mitigation measures become challenged. We have also been clear that districts will make decisions that are best for them in consultation with their parents, teachers, staff, and school boards.
It is always safer for schools to offer in-person learning when community transmission is low. The community must continue to work to break the transmission cycle in Johnson County by wearing masks appropriately and consistently, physically distancing, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and getting a flu shot.