Governor closes Kansas K-12 schools for the rest of the year

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 4:30 PM CDT
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Gov. Laura Kelly is ordering the closings of all K-12 school campuses through the end of the semester, moving instruction online as the state responds to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Kelly’s Tuesday afternoon announcement came as several school districts already had extended spring breaks through next Friday, and colleges and universities had moved to online instruction for the rest of the school year.

The Dept. of Education clarified that Governor Kelly didn't cancel classes, but just closed the physical buildings. Schools will be working on plans to continue to teach students. Kelly says the buildings will all need to be sanitized, and only groups of 10 or less could be there once that job is completed.

Kansas has at least 18 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus as the pandemic continues to spread in the state, officials said.

Health officials reported the first case in Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas; Miami County, south of the Kansas City metropolitan area; and Ford County, in southwest Kansas. But the two patients in those counties are actually from Oregon and Missouri.

The Douglas County case is a young man in his 20s just returning from a trip to Florida.

They reported two more in Johnson County, bringing the total in the state’s most populous county to 10. Its neighbor, Wyandotte County, saw two new cases, in addition to the only infection resulting in death in Kansas so far. Franklin County, just south of Douglas County.. and Butler County outside of Wichita each have recorded a case.

The House approved a bill to give laid-off workers another 10 weeks of unemployment benefits. After the measure cleared a committee Tuesday morning, the chamber canceled all of its remaining committee meetings until further notice. It also sent office assistants home.

Kansas lottery officials announced the four state-owned casinos will close at the end of the day Tuesday until at least March 30. That comes after three of the state’s major universities announced Monday that they will move to all remote classes.

The announcements came after Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday banned all gatherings of more than 50 people until May 1st. After Kelly’s announcement, officials Johnson and Wyandotte counties and Jackson County, Missouri, ordered the closing of restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs and movie theaters from Tuesday through April 1st, with the exception of drive-thru, pickup and delivery services. They also banned public gatherings of more than 10 people, although they exempted government, religious and private business activities.

Wyandotte County officials said the two new patients, who are women in their 40s and 50s, are self-isolating at home after being released from the hospital. A man in his 70s died in a nursing home in the county last week.

KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said last week that officials are investigating the source of the infection at the Life Care Center in Kansas City. He said the man was immobile so someone brought the infection to him.