Plans for keeping KU’s open campus sanitary during pandemic not yet finalized

photo by: Associated Press

Students cross Jayhawk Boulevard in front of Strong Hall on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

One day after extending its spring break by a week and telling faculty to adopt online learning materials — while keeping the campus open — in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Kansas has yet to finalize answers as to how it will keep its open facilities sanitary and safe.

Members of an emergency management team are still finalizing those plans, KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson told the Journal-World Thursday.

“We have people across the university at every level focused on responding to this unprecedented scenario while offering the best services we can to students and others in the university community,” she said in an email.

Many of the more than 135 colleges across the country that have switched to online courses have also asked their students to vacate on-campus housing in short order. And while they’ve faced criticism for doing so — namely because of the impact on low-income students — it may be more effective in preventing community spread of the respiratory virus.

“The dorms are cruise ships,” an unnamed Harvard University official told MSNBC about the need for students to move out of their dorms at the prestigious Massachusetts school by Sunday.

As KU students who are able prepare to potentially return to campus following the previously scheduled end of spring break, Barcomb-Peterson said the university currently wasn’t planning on screening people for coronavirus symptoms if they traveled in the United States during the time off.

“The CDC is not recommending screenings for those who have traveled within the U.S.,” she said.

Officials at the university’s Watkins Health Center did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

The Sunflower State is also beginning to see a greater imprint of the virus, as the state Department of Health and Environment announced three new cases of COVID-19 Thursday morning. All three cases were males in Johnson County who had recently returned from a conference in Florida. While they traveled on a plane to return to Kansas, they were asymptomatic at the time, the department said.

The Journal-World was repeatedly directed to KU’s website dedicated to the virus,, for more information, but it has not been updated since the university announced just before 9 p.m. Wednesday it was suspending in-person courses.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.