Kansas allows fall high school sports amid pandemic

Staff Writer
The Examiner

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas State High School Activities Association is allowing all fall high school sport competitions in Kansas to move forward as scheduled despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Its executive board on Tuesday narrowly defeated a motion that would have delayed the start of fall competitions, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The decision means fall sports and activities programs can start practices on Aug. 17 and competitions can move forward as scheduled. However, local school boards will still be able to change sports schedules within their own districts.

On Wednesday, Kansas health officials reported 14 more COVID-19 deaths since Monday, bringing the state's toll to 349.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment also said the number of reported cases also rose to 26,870 in the state, an increase of 698 new cases since cases since Monday. The number of cases is thought to be far higher because people can be infected without feeling sick and because of a lack of testing.

KDHE Secretary Lee Norman told reporters Wednesday that they are seeing "a little glimmer" of optimism in some of the metrics his department is tracking.

For example, the rate of new cases is starting to slow, even though it is not yet where it needs to be. Also, the percentage of children with COVID-19 in Kansas is lower than in other states.

Norman said he and Gov. Laura Kelly are always looking at what they can do to help people make the best decision without having to do more severe closures.

"We are still holding on to the hope that people will get control of their own destiny," Norman said.

Despite the mounting cases and deaths, Kelly will be unable to impose statewide restrictions on businesses or mass gatherings until Sept. 15 under a new state law, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Even if the Democratic governor and the Republicans-dominated Legislature could agree on a course of action, a provision in the hastily passed measure makes state government largely powerless to order changes in business practices or limit crowd sizes for seven more weeks.

That provision gives counties and cities near-total power until mid-September to decide whether to limit businesses or gatherings. Most counties have already opted out of the governor's mask mandate.

A Topeka pediatric group said in a Facebook post it will not write letters to get students out of wearing a mask at school, noting it had received numerous requests to do so.

"This is not a political statement. This has nothing to do with violating anyone's rights. This is simply to help decrease the spread of covid 19," Pediatric Associates of Topeka wrote the post. "This virus is not a hoax. It is real. This is to help protect our beloved teachers, staff and other students at the school. Especially those who may be high risk."

Meanwhile, the governor announced Wednesday that she will sign an executive order to make renewing driver's licenses easier. The order will permit all drivers under the age of 65 to renew their driver's license online.

The Kansas Department of Corrections said that a staff member at the Topeka Correctional Facility died due to COVID-19 complications. Richard Rose, a 74-year-old facility maintenance supervisor, died Saturday.

The department also said Wednesday that two asymptomatic inmates at the Ellsworth Correctional facility tested positive for COVID-19. The agency conducted mass testing of 163 inmates who had been exposed to a staff member who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month.