Return to School

August 28, 2020
Update from Superintendent Dr. Scott McWilliams

The purpose of this message to all staff and parents is twofold. First, to provide a quick update on our second day of school, and second, to provide a more detailed update on how we are monitoring COVID-19 data across Shawnee County and within Auburn-Washburn.

First, I am happy to report that our second official day of school, which was actually the first day of school for most of our "Group B" students, was safe and successful. It is easy to tell by the way I worded the previous statement that this year will be like no other. Moving into this year, we identified our primary goals to be keeping students and staff safe and providing meaningful learning opportunities to Group A students, Group B students, and to our Remote Learners. It is a great deal to manage for us all (students, parents, staff), but we will make it through. As I shared in yesterday's message, let's stick together and take it one day at a time.

As I write this message at the end of our second day of school, nothing was reported today, August 28, as a COVID-19 related concern at school. It was a safe and productive day!

Second, I want to provide more detailed information on how we are tracking and reviewing COVID-19 data in Shawnee County and Auburn-Washburn. The Shawnee County Health Department is a tremendous partner for all schools in the county, and they provide a "scorecard" each Thursday that provides a score on the following indicators:

  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.

In addition to those six indicators for Shawnee County, we will also monitor these three indicators in Auburn-Washburn:

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

A Safely Forward in Auburn-Washburn Council is being created that will consist of Board of Education members, parents, employees, medical professionals, and representation from the Health Department. This Council will meet every Friday morning to review both Shawnee County and Auburn-Washburn COVID-19 related data.

The Council met for the first time this morning, and there are two take-aways from the meeting. One, the scorecard this week for Shawnee County is in the "red" color-code. The fact that the community transmission level in this week's scorecard is in the red zone should not be interpreted as an automatic requirement for schools to move to Phase 1 Remote Learning. The intent of the scorecard is to track it over two, three, possibly even four weeks to discover and analyze trend data. It is not intended to be used as a weekly decision-making metric. Two, internal Auburn-Washburn data has remained constant for the last two weeks. Since July 1, four students and four staff members in Auburn-Washburn have had confirmed positive COVID-19 tests. No new positive cases were reported last week (August 17-21) or this week (August 24-28).

Based on currently known facts, Auburn-Washburn will continue in Phase 2 Hybrid Learning next week, and co-curricular and athletic programs will also continue (August 31 – September 4).

Thank you for taking the time to read these updates. I remain committed to keeping you informed with factual updates in a timely manner.

Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

Dr. Scott McWilliams
Superintendent of Schools