KU yet to announce plans for rest of school year; KSU cancels graduation, won’t resume in-person classes

photo by: Associated Press

A bus passes in front of Strong Hall, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Updated story

March 17 — KU moves classes online for entire spring semester

Story updated at 6:12 p.m. Monday

The immediate future of the University of Kansas’ campus operations remained in limbo on Monday as Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ordered gatherings be limited to less than 50 people for the next two months to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Some 80 miles to the west, Kansas State University announced that it was shifting classes online for the remainder of the academic year, canceling its May graduation ceremonies and beginning the process to close its residence halls and dining centers. Wichita State University also announced Monday it was switching to remote courses for the rest of the school year.

KU officials, though, were mum as to when similar changes may come to Lawrence in light of the recent directives.

“The university’s emergency management team and staff in key offices are tackling issues like this that affect the continuity of normal university operations,” spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said in an email.

Any changes to KU’s operations, Barcomb-Peterson said, would be shared at the university’s COVID-19 dedicated website, coronavirus.ku.edu.

Though students were strongly discouraged from returning to campus unless they had nowhere else to go, KU’s campus remained mostly open Monday, with some exceptions:

• Recreation services are closed through March 29.

• University libraries are closed through March 29, though many services remain available online or remotely.

• Hilltop Child Development Center is closed through March 27.

• Spencer Museum of Art is closed through March 31.

• Public galleries at the KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum are closed through March 28.

• Robinson Center, including the pool, fitness/weight room and athletic facilities is closed through March 30.

KU’s COVID-19 website hasn’t been updated since Sunday evening.

Watkins Health System, the university’s on-campus student health care provider, was noticeably busier Monday as some returned to campus after the original end of KU’s spring break.

Pavika Saripalli, Watkins interim chief of staff, told the Journal-World the provider had to postpone Monday’s routine appointments to accommodate student requests to be examined and potentially tested for COVID-19.

Watkins does currently have the ability to test for the respiratory virus, Saripalli said. They have commercial test kits disseminated from Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp that had been used to test between 15 to 20 people as of Friday, Saripalli said. They are still waiting on most of the results — which take four to five business days to receive — but have received four or five negative results so far.

The test kits are in short supply, and Watkins is ordering them as fast as they can while they remain available. If the demand for testing increases too quickly, though, Saripalli said they may have to begin denying testing to patients who aren’t especially ill.

Any KU student who expects they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call Watkins before going to the office so they can be guided toward the designated entrance for sick visitors.

More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the pandemic continues, the Journal-World will be making coverage of COVID-19 available outside of the paywall on LJWorld.com.

Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at: ljworld.com/coronavirus/

Contact Conner Mitchell

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