Four LHS staff members test positive for COVID-19

Cases come as national records set, Douglas County sees rapid growth


Owen Musser

A sticker reminds people of the importance of social distancing. Students and faculty are expected to remain six feet apart and wear masks at all times when inside the building.

By Nadia Sanburn, Online Co-Editor in Chief

COVID-19 has spread among four Lawrence High School staff members, families and staff learned this Tuesday. 

On Monday night, the district reached out through email relaying the news that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. In an email sent out on Tuesday evening, Julie Boyle, USD 497’s executive director of communications, said three additional staff members had also tested positive. All three had exposure to the first person. They went into quarantine after learning of the positive test, and consequently, all four people have not been in the building since Friday. 

“None will return to school until authorized to do so by public health officials,” Boyle said in the email. 

Boyle communicated that those at risk would be notified.

“Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health is working with these three staff members to identify anyone else who may be considered at risk of exposure,” she said. “Any close contacts will be directly notified by the school district or health officials to quarantine. If you do not receive a direct notification, no action is required.”

The positive cases come as USD 497 enters its first full week of hybrid instruction after a transition to the educational model.

Senior Anis Abughalia said this was expected. 

“I mean I’m not really surprised,” he said. “From the very beginning I figured this would happen sooner or later.”

Senior Connor Ireland, who participated in the hybrid model Tuesday, said four cases shouldn’t be cause for panic. 

“It sucks obviously. I was at school today, and it seemed super safe so I’m not too worried about it, because they also have contact tracing and stuff,” he said. “I guess if more people get sick, then it would be more worrying, but with four, I’m not crazy worried.”

Cases continue to rise across the nation. The CDC reports 237,731 deaths and more than 10 million cases in the United States with daily records being set for new infections. The 14-day test positivity rate for Douglas County hit 11.4 percent on Tuesday, the highest in the county since the start of the pandemic. As of Tuesday afternoon, 531 people in Douglas County had active COVID-19 cases with 64 cases added since Monday afternoon.

Boyle reiterated the precautions that the community should be taking during this unprecedented time. 

“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying home when ill, when exposed to someone who is ill, or when awaiting test results,” she said. “Our schools need everyone’s cooperation with these recommendations to maintain a safe learning environment for students and staff.”

Boyle also provided resources to reach out to if feeling ill.  

“Please contact the school nurse, your personal health care provider, or LDCPH’s Coronavirus hotline at 785-856-4343 with any questions,” she said. 

Faculty members and students are asked to use this self assessment tool daily.

Arien Roman Rojas, Sophia Kaufman and Tony Racy contributed to this report.