Return to School

August 21, 2020
Update from Superintendent Dr. Scott McWilliams

Shawnee County school districts along with local, private, and parochial schools have been meeting with Shawnee County Health Department officials weekly since June. The partnership we have created is valued greatly, and our discussions and review of COVID-19-related data have been insightful and helpful. The Shawnee County Health Department has been developing a "scorecard" to be shared publicly each week. Earlier today at a press conference, this scorecard was released publicly for the first time. This scorecard, which will be updated and shared weekly, will monitor the following six indicators in Shawnee County:

  1. Weekly case incidence: number of new cases during a week,
  2. Trend in incidence: decreasing, stable, or increasing,
  3. Percent positive test: percent positive tests out of all tests performed,
  4. Percent of new cases with no known source of infection,
  5. Hospital capacity: percentage of available beds,
  6. Public health system capacity.

On a scale of 0 – 24, the total index score on this week's scorecard was 13. Based on a color-coding system, a score of 13 falls in the "orange" range. The color code system moves from green (score = 0), yellow (index score between 1 and 8), orange (index score between 9 and 16), to red (index score between 17 and 21).

In addition to the weekly scorecard, schools in Shawnee County will partner with the Shawnee County Health Department when a student or staff member has a confirmed positive COVID-19 test. Since July 1, four students and four staff members in Auburn-Washburn have had confirmed positive COVID-19 tests. We have partnered with the Health Department on each confirmed positive test.

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) recently released Gating Criteria for school districts to consider using as guidelines as well. KSDE's Gating Criteria is very similar to the Shawnee County scorecard, but it also includes student absenteeism based on 2020-21 building level average daily attendance compared to 2019-20.

In Auburn-Washburn, we will closely review the weekly Shawnee County Health Department scorecard, and in addition to that, we will also closely monitor:

  1. Student absenteeism
  2. Confirmed positive COVID-19 cases within Auburn-Washburn (students and staff)
  3. Staffing per school

Based on currently known facts, Auburn-Washburn will begin the 2020-21 school year with students on August 27 in Phase 2 Hybrid Learning. Please follow communications sent from your child's school closely for more detailed information on exactly which day your student's first day of school will be on the Hybrid Learning schedule.

If COVID-19 related conditions worsen at some point significantly in Shawnee County or in our schools, we will need to move to Phase 1 Remote Learning. I encourage families to have contingency plans in place for both Phase 2 Hybrid Learning and Phase 1 Remote Learning.

In a parent email I sent on August 19, I stated it is not likely that we will be able to consider Phase 3 On-Site Learning as a viable option for the foreseeable future. The reason for this is social distancing. Most agree that social distancing is one of the most effective strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are not able to safely social distance in our schools when all students are present. It is my belief that social distancing will be mandated or strongly encouraged as best practice for the foreseeable future to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Of course, that too will be continually reviewed.

Please know I have no interest in filling your email inbox with too many messages, but due to the environment we are in and with the start of school days away, it is important that I share timely and factual updates so you remain informed and can plan accordingly.


Dr. Scott McWilliams
Superintendent of Schools