New data show COVID spread in Johnson County schools ‘relatively stable’ — see your district’s numbers

School districts, including Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley, that have implemented universal masking requirements are recording COVID-19 incidence rates of around 3 per 1,000 students, according to county health data. Spring Hill, the one Johnson County public school district without a universal masking rule, has recorded rates more than double that in the last week. Above, students at Crestview Elementary in SMSD. File image.

Newly released data gives the first broad overview of how schools in Johnson County are doing at containing the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities since students returned to classes last month.

A report from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment shows weekly incidence rates of COVID-19 among students, broken down by each of the county’s public school districts, as well as metrics for private schools and all schools combined.

Below is the data chart from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment:

The data show that Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, USD 232 in De Soto and Olathe, as well as private schools, all all are recording less than 4 cases per 1,000 students.

On the other hand, in Spring Hill in southern Johnson County — the only school district in the county that is not mandating universal mask-wearing in its buildings — COVID-19 rates spiked up to nearly 16 cases per 1,000 students in early September.

JCDHE data shows Spring Hill’s rate fell last week to around 7 cases per 1,000, which remains more than double the overall average for schools in Johnson County.

Likewise, JCDHE notes that the current data does not include Gardner-Edgerton, which has been unable to report its case numbers “due to technical issues,” according to county health officials.

Overall, incidence rates among all public school districts have been “relatively stable,” according to a letter from the county health department sent to the Spring Hill school board last week, urging the district to adopt more stringent mitigation measures.

JCDHE says a combined approach of requiring masks indoors at school, encouraging student and staff vaccinations and implementing other COVID-19 mitigation protocols, has been largely effective in fighting spread of the contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 in Johnson County schools so far this academic year.

Barbara Mitchell, community health division director and public information officer for JCDHE, noted the data shows how important a “multi-layered approach” to COVID-19 mitigation is to keeping case counts down.

“It indicates how important it is to implement the recommended mitigation measures in our K-12 school guidance,” Mitchell said. “Layering of mitigation measures is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. JCDHE’s goal is to keep the residents of our community as healthy as possible.”

The data does reflect some COVID-19 case trends from private schools in Johnson County. However, Mitchell said not all private schools are reporting data to the county health department, noting that the data is “an incomplete picture” regarding case trends in local private schools.