Tracking COVID Data
UPDATE BASED ON LATEST WEEKLY COVID REPORT FROM THE STATE (OCTOBER 7):
- Percent Positivity Rate (the percentage of tests that are positive here in Lowell) - 3.57% (2.71% last week)
- Average Daily Case Rate Per 100,000 Residents - 16.3/red (10.9/red last week)
- Status of In-Person Instruction: There will be no change to our instructional model and those LPS students currently attending school in-person will continue to attend school in-person.
HOW LPS TRACKS COVID DATA
The Lowell Public Schools closely monitors the two COVID-related data points outlined below:
- Lowell’s COVID-19 “Percent Positivity Rate” (the percentage of tests that are positive here in Lowell). If this rate is at or above 5%, we would not hold school in-person. As of October 7, the percent positivity rate in Lowell is 3.57%
- The Massachusetts COVID-19 Risk Dashboard (the weekly color coding of green/yellow/red for cities and towns in the state, measuring the average daily COVID case rate per 100,000). As of October 7, Lowell is coded red for the second staight week (and second week overall), which means our city has an average daily case rate of more than 8 per 100,000 residents (16.3 per the October 7 report). Based on the latest guidance from DESE, we will monitor this dashboard with the Lowell Health Department, viewing 3 consecutive weeks of trends for the COVID risk level as part of determining the status of in-person instruction.
These data points are usually updated by the state each Wednesday.
Originally we communicated that if Lowell was coded red, we would not hold school in-person. But as the state further evaluated its own dashboard and provided further clarity on how to use it, we have modified our approach for using this dashboard in order to align with the state’s latest guidance. Based on this guidance, we will instead monitor this dashboard with the Lowell Health Department, viewing 3 consecutive weeks of trends for the COVID risk level as part of determining the status of in-person instruction, as stated above. This update comes from guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley addressed the fact that some cities and towns in the state are switching back and forth between being coded green and yellow, or yellow and red, providing the following guidance in a letter sent to school districts:
It is critically important that school districts do not make decisions based on a single report from DPH. Instead, I recommend that school districts wait for color changes in either direction in three consecutive weekly reports before considering a change to an instructional model (remote, hybrid, in- person).
This three-week time period of reports will represent four weeks of data and will be more reflective of a trend than one report. Furthermore, please remember that these color-coded designations are based on a single indicator (number of cases per 100,000 residents). In addition to this color-coded metric, I encourage districts and schools to work with their local boards of health to use all available information regarding COVID-19 trends in making these decisions. This could also include local test positivity rates and whether cases are increasing or decreasing in a municipality.
Any change to our instructional model will be clearly communicated with families with as much notice as possible in order to minimize the disruption to families, while also adhering to our commitment to safety as our top priority.