WRITER: Conner Mitchell

Kelly says mask mandate is key to keeping economy open and reopening schools; enforcement decisions will remain local

Story updated at 4:18 p.m. Thursday: TOPEKA — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly spelled out three reasons Thursday afternoon for her mandate that Kansans wear masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19: She has “no doubt” it will save lives, it is the only way to safely keep the economy open and it may be the key to opening schools in August. “If we really want to open our schools in August, we need this ...

Independent committee agrees to hear, rule on KU's NCAA infractions case

A new panel designed to handle the most complex rules in collegiate sports has officially agreed to hear the University of Kansas' case surrounding serious pay-for-play allegations in the men's basketball program, the sport's governing body announced Wednesday. Over a month after KU's case was officially referred to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, a five-person panel finally accepted the ...

Kansas' top health official sounds the alarm on COVID-19, predicts current trend line will 'steepen'

Kansas in the last 10 days has seen a “significant increase” in new COVID-19 cases and is taking “another step in the wrong direction,” the state’s top health officer said Wednesday. Since last Monday, the state has confirmed 2,547 new cases of the deadly respiratory virus, said Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Norman said the state was seeing an upward ...

KU relaxes requirements for instructors wishing to teach remotely in fall semester

The University of Kansas has decided to give its instructors more flexibility to decide whether they’re comfortable with teaching in-person courses in the fall, just days after hundreds of faculty members signed a letter protesting KU’s policies related to COVID-19 and the reopening process. Now, all instructors will have the choice of whether to teach in-person or remotely in the fall, KU Provost Barbara ...

Douglas County issues mask mandate in public spaces, beginning Wednesday

Story updated at 5 p.m. Monday: After more than 30 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed over the weekend, Douglas County will soon require everyone in public spaces to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, masks will be required throughout Douglas County in public spaces such as retail or grocery stores, workplaces and public facilities such as community ...

Kansas to begin mandatory mask policy on Friday as COVID-19 cases in state trend upward

Updated at 4:47 p.m. Monday The state of Kansas, beginning on Friday, will require every person to wear a mask in public places where social distancing is not possible, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday. The marked escalation in Kansas' strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 came after the state confirmed over 900 new cases of the respiratory virus over the past weekend. Repeatedly on Monday, Kelly stressed ...

KU details some protection efforts for fall semester, creates pandemic management teams

The logistics of a fall semester at the University of Kansas in the COVID-19 era began to take shape late Monday, as the university released many new guidelines for classroom configurations, the options available for faculty to safely teach, and new procedures for the unprecedented academic term. KU's larger lecture halls will function at significantly reduced capacities, students will be asked to sign a ...

Faculty leaders blast KU's return-to-campus policies, and a few refuse to comply

Dozens of department leaders at the University of Kansas are demanding more transparency from administrators about plans to reopen campus after a COVID-19-induced shutdown, and a few of them have refused to comply with a mandate that requires instructors to document their health conditions in order to get an exemption from in-person teaching, the Journal-World has learned. When KU announced a slate of ...

After student petition, KU backs off doubling fee for international students

Days after a student-generated petition garnered nearly 2,500 signatures asking the University of Kansas to keep flat a required fee for international students that quietly doubled during a June meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents, KU Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer announced Friday afternoon that the fee increase would be rescinded. The $160-per-semester fee was set to jump to $310 in the 2020-21 academic ...

Despite public interest, Douglas County, Kansas Health Department decline to release locations of COVID-19 outbreaks

Updated at 3:44 p.m. Thursday Information detailing the location of COVID-19 outbreaks both in Douglas County and in the state of Kansas continues to be shielded from the public eye. Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in recent days have declined requests from the Journal-World made under the Kansas Open Records Act that would detail where the respective ...

KU's Studio 804 to debut 25th annual project, this time a sustainable home in North Lawrence

Set along a nine-mile stretch of the Kansas River walkway in North Lawrence, a home consisting of three independent structures will join a long list of buildings designed by architecture students at the University of Kansas. Finally ready for an open house — delayed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic — the sculptural structures at 722 Ash St. will be on public display this weekend. It is the latest project ...

KU international students upset after required fee quietly doubles

International students at the University of Kansas were in for a surprise last week after initially believing the Kansas Board of Regents voted to keep tuition and student fees flat for the coming academic year. Instead, the fee which applies only to international students quietly doubled, virtually unnoticed until it was already approved. Now, KU’s international students will pay a $310 fee per semester ...

Kansas labor secretary resigns after continued struggles with backlogged unemployment claims

Story updated at 5:19 p.m. Monday: Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday announced the immediate resignation of Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Delia García after the department saw months of continued struggle in processing unemployment claims for those who lost jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelly also cited a recent snafu in which the department processed duplicate unemployment payments to thousands of ...

KU faculty leaders say they weren't consulted on COVID-19 related pay cuts, in conflict with established university guidelines

Administrators at the University of Kansas did not abide by KU’s longstanding system of collaborative decision-making when they announced last week that every employee making over $50,000 annually would face a scaled, six-month pay cut beginning in August, faculty leaders told the Journal-World. That decision-making system is known as shared governance, in which the faculty, staff and student governing ...

Kelly recommends Kansas counties stay in Phase Three of reopening

TOPEKA — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is advising counties to delay moving into the next phase of reopening, citing data that shows COVID-19's spread in the state is trending upward for the first time in weeks. On Monday, when the state was originally slated to move into Phase Four under Kelly's guidelines, the governor instead strongly recommended that all Kansas counties remain in Phase Three of the reopening ...

Many in KU community say they're wary about a return to physical instruction as COVID-19 pandemic rages on

As the University of Kansas plans for in-person classes in the fall after a COVID-19-induced hiatus, many students and employees aren't entirely comfortable with the idea of returning to campus. That's according to an informal survey conducted by the Journal-World in the last two weeks. Nearly 90 students, parents, staff members, faculty members and graduate student instructors reached out to the newspaper to ...

KU announces universitywide salary cuts for those paid over $50K; no immediate plans for furloughs

Story updated at 1:22 p.m. Friday Every employee at the University of Kansas who makes an annual salary over $50,000 will see a scaled pay reduction over six months as the university manages an unprecedented budget crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chancellor Douglas Girod and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer announced a series of new budgeting measures Friday afternoon, including absorbing carryforward balances ...

KU announces mandatory mask policy for all of campus, effective immediately

All individuals on the University of Kansas campus, effective immediately, will be required to wear a face covering to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, KU Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer said Thursday. The KU policy office is in the process of drafting new personal safety requirements for the Lawrence campus and the Edwards Campus in Overland Park for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic conditions persist, ...

Kansas Board of Regents votes to hold tuition, fees flat across KU campuses; Girod highlights budget challenges

Tuition at the University of Kansas will officially stay flat for the second consecutive academic year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt higher education. The Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday morning approved KU’s request — which the university first announced in early May — to hold both tuition rates and required fees for all students at their current levels for all university campuses ...

Kansas coach Self threatens legal action against NCAA regarding handling of infractions case

Kansas coach Bill Self’s personal attorney has informed the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, that the Hall of Fame coach is considering legal action against the NCAA for its handling of the violations case involving Self and the Kansas men's basketball program. Scott Tompsett, Self’s attorney, said in a June 12 letter to the NCAA’s general counsel that Self was considering legal action for ...