Major League Soccer suspends season for 30 days

Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials, according to an announcement today.

The decision affects Sporting Kansas City, located in Kansas City, Kansas.

At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events, according to the announcement.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

KU, K-State move classes online due to coronavirus, other Kansas colleges may follow

by Nomin Ujiyediin, Kansas News Service

Topeka, Kansas — The University of Kansas and Kansas State University have both delayed the start of in-person classes until March 23, with the possibility of continuing online-only for weeks after that, in the wake of the continued spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

KU decided Wednesday night, and K-State put out a statement on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, top administrators at other public universities in the state made clear they may follow suit with their own campus shutdowns.

The Kansas Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public universities, voted Wednesday night to allow each school to make its own decision about how to address the coronavirus — whether to extend spring break and switch to online classes.

Most modifications to the academic calendar require Board of Regents approval.

In an emergency meeting Wednesday night, the regents and the heads of KU, K-State and other schools weighed the costs and benefits of keeping students, many of whom are on spring break, from returning to campus for at least another two weeks.

If Kansas colleges shut down their classrooms and go online to slow the spread of the virus, they would join more than 100 schools around the country that have sent students home. Among them: the University of Missouri, Harvard University, Syracuse University, Rice University and all the public colleges in Ohio.

Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said there has been no community transmission of the coronavirus in the state. Kansas recorded a confirmed case of the illness in Johnson County — a woman diagnosed after traveling to the northeastern U.S.

But Norman warned officials during the meeting that people returning to campus from other states or countries could easily be carrying the virus.

Norman suggested sending students home rather than risk infections from interactions in dorms, dining halls and off-campus hangouts,

“We’re on a banana peel right now,” he told the board. “It would take one or a small cluster of people to come back and then to infect people around them.”

“The safest thing to do,” he said, “is cancel classes.”

The most likely plan, some university officials said, is extending their spring breaks by one week to give instructors and staff time to prepare materials for online teaching, then instructing students not to come back to campus.

It would be better to be overly cautious than underprepared, said KU Chancellor Doug Girod. He noted that a couple of KU faculty have been exposed to the coronavirus at conferences and a family in Lawrence is under investigation for exposure.

“I would argue we would hold profound liability in this situation,” he said. “If somebody dies on my campus, I’m going to get sued.”

Girod said KU plans to reach out to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and city manager for collaboration on keeping students from congregating in businesses off campus.

“The focus is to not let students lose progress towards a degree,” he said.

K-State will try to reduce the risk of transmission the best it can, but not every student can leave the school, university president Richard Myers said Wednesday. That includes international students, people who live in off-campus housing and others who have no place to go.

“It’s not going to work for all students,” Myers said. “We’re just trying to mitigate the risk the best we can. We know it’s not a 100% solution.”

Especially at risk are older faculty and staff, who have a higher risk of being seriously ill if they contract the virus, he added.

“A campus is not just students,” Myers said.

K-State will open its dorms on Sunday for students who can’t stay at home, but otherwise will hold off on classes for a week and when classes do resume on March 23, they’ll be held online.

Officials discussed whether to keep campuses shuttered for the rest of the semester, or just for a couple of weeks, with a re-evaluation and possible extension if more people test positive for coronavirus.

Jay Golden, the president of Wichita State University, said the school might have to send students home early because its spring break begins March 23.

Allison Garrett, president of Emporia State University, said student-athletes would continue with practice, and attendance at events would be limited to athletes and required staff. The school plans to resume normal operations for staff next week, although students will not be on campus. It plans to allow staff to work from home if needed.

Other issues will be decided at the regents’ regular meeting on March 18, said board president and CEO Blake Flanders. Among them are credit for science labs, which are difficult to complete online.

The board decided to let universities make their own decision because each school is so different, Flanders told the Kansas News Service after the meeting. While not every university has released a public plan, they have been discussing contingencies for weeks.

“I’m not sure every element was set in stone,” he said, “but I think they have a really good idea about how they’re going to move forward.”

Nomin Ujiyediin reports on criminal justice and social welfare for KCUR and the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @NominUJ.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/ku-k-state-move-classes-online-due-coronavirus-other-kansas-colleges-may-follow.

Rep. Davids calls for measures to support U.S. workers and economy amid spread of coronavirus

As public health professionals work to contain the spread of coronavirus, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., outlined steps that Congress, as well as Kansas’ legislature, could take today to protect the livelihood of workers, families and small businesses across the United States.

“Public health officials are working hard to mitigate and contain the spread of the coronavirus, and that must remain a priority. As policy makers, we have a responsibility to not only address the impact this virus has on public health and safety, but also the impact it has on the financial security of families, workers, and businesses across the country. Today I’m outlining measures that should be taken right now to lessen those impacts and support our families,” Rep. Davids said in a news release.

These include:

Medicaid expansion
“Rural hospitals and health clinics – which serve as the first line of defense during public health crises – have been closing across Kansas due to the state’s previous failure to expand Medicaid. The Kansas legislature should build on the progress they’ve made and act quickly to pass a Medicaid expansion bill. It would provide quality, affordable health care for an estimated 150,000 additional Kansans, and provide critical support for rural hospitals to help keep their doors open.


“Congress should support this action by passing legislation I’ve long pushed for, the Incentivizing Medicaid Expansion Act, which would increase federal support for states like Kansas that expand Medicaid.

Paid sick leave – small business tax credits
“More than 30 million people in the United States lack access to paid sick leave, many of whom work low-wage jobs that require close contact with the public, like restaurant workers or health care aides. They shouldn’t have to choose between their health and collecting a paycheck that supports their families.

“In order to ease financial hardship and reduce the spread of the virus, Congress should support paid sick leave for workers. And in order to support small businesses – which are the backbone of our communities – Congress should implement a paid sick leave tax credit for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Tax relief
“During times of economic uncertainty, it’s often the middle class and vulnerable communities that suffer the most. In any economic package that Congress puts forward, we must prioritize the needs of families and our most vulnerable populations by providing them with tax relief. This helps to put money back into the hands of the people who need it most.

Food security
“Millions of children in the United States receive free or reduced lunches through their public school. If schools shut down across the country, these children risk losing access to food and proper nutrition altogether. Congress should expand SNAP, WIC, school lunch and other initiatives to support families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to feed their children.

“There are many more legislative actions Congress can and should take to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on our families and economy, all of which should focus on protecting the middle class and vulnerable communities. As we move forward, I’m committed to working with members of Congress in both parties, as well as the President, to provide relief to families, support workers and businesses, and ease economic fallout,” Rep. Davids said.