Kansas

WICHITA, Kansas — Kansas teachers that don’t feel safe going back to crowded hallways as schools reopen could take medical leave or teach online. But at the many districts that don’t have those options, teachers eye another choice: quitting.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Getting married and having your first child is stressful enough. Try making those life changes during a pandemic. As a teacher.

The Kansas City Council offered a lesson in racial sensitivity Thursday which resulted in Mayor Quinton Lucas ordering Councilwoman Teresa Loar to undergo implicit bias training in the next seven days for mocking a Black colleague during a public meeting.

“I do hope that even though the world is tense ... that we will treat each other with respect and understand when we fall short, that it’s necessary and essential that we do better and that we try to make it right, however we can,” Lucas said.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A near sweep by conservatives over moderates in several primary races this week sets up more conflict over the next two years between the Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

“There will be a lot of feuding and fighting going on, particularly given the COVID situation,” said Rep. Tom Phillips, a moderate Republican from Manhattan who isn’t seeking a fifth term.

Republican leaders could further limit Kelly’s power to guide the state’s response to the pandemic and power past her objections to reducing corporate taxes.

The operator of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, is terminating 70 workers after the prime contractor lost its contract to run the facility.

In a WARN Act notice filed last week, XPO Logistics Supply Chain Inc. said the terminations will take effect beginning September 30 and extend over two weeks.

The plant, one of the biggest employers in Independence, makes small-caliber ammunition for the U.S. military.

Joe Checkler, a spokesman for XPO, said at least some of the workers will likely be hired by the new contractor.

There’s a lot riding on a Kickoff set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.

The Sterling College Warriors are scheduled to take on the McPherson College Bulldogs at home. If that familiar thud of shoe against football and cheer from the stands doesn’t happen, the college that keeps the central Kansas town’s economy humming, that gives it cultural vitality, and that separates Sterling from the hollowing out that defines so many other small Midwestern towns, might not survive.

Another settlement has been reached over the illicit recordings of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

The settlement calls for the private operator of the prison, CoreCivic Inc., and the operator of its phone system, Securus Technologies Inc., to pay $3.7 million to resolve a class action lawsuit brought four years ago by attorneys whose conversations with their clients were recorded.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Steven Bough gave preliminary approval to the deal, which covers the claims of roughly 750 attorneys.

CORINNE BOYER / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

One western Kansas resident's recovery from COVID-19 was made worse by an unpleasant health care experience.

Unofficial results have been posted. Listen to KMUW 89.1 FM on Wednesday morning for analysis on local and statewide races. 

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas’ biggest primary race was one of the first to be decided Tuesday: U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall secured the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and will face Democratic nominee Barbara Bollier in the November general election.

Officials had cautioned that the record numbers of mail-in advanced ballots — a sign of the times in a pandemic — could lead to delayed results. But by 10:30 p.m., all of the major contests were over.

Although both the Democratic and Republican parties ditched their presidential primaries this year, there are still several significant races on Kansas primary ballots on Aug. 4 — and plenty of down-ballot races that need deciding, too.

WICHITA, Kansas — More than 26,000 people in Kansas have contracted COVID-19. Roughly 350 of them have died.

While that’s a low death rate, survivors talk of the brutality of the disease, and how full recovery can prove elusive even months after getting infected.

Spirit AeroSystems announced another round of layoffs on Friday as the Wichita aerospace company continues to get battered by the grounding of the 737 Max and the pandemic.

Spirit said in a news release it will cut another 1,100 jobs from its commercial programs. That represents 450 new layoffs in Wichita when taking into account previous reductions and employees moving to other programs, such as defense. Some employees also previously agreed to take voluntary layoffs.

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

So long St. Joseph, Missouri. For now. Amid the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the Kansas City area, Chiefs players will undergo testing this week before reporting Friday to the Truman Sports Complex for training camp.

Kansas let foster care children live in group homes with broken windows, mold, exposed electrical wiring, trashed porches and rodent droppings.

That’s according to an audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Federal inspectors dug into the state’s system of group homes in 2018 and 2019, but their final report only came out this week.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Control of the Kansas Legislature could turn on dozens of down-ballot races in the Aug. 4 primary election, in which many of the contests, particularly for the Kansas Senate, pit conservative Republicans against moderate incumbents.

In Republican Senate primaries, moderates facing their first re-election test since 2016 can no longer use former Gov. Sam Brownback as a foil. And while taxes remain an issue, two perhaps counterintuitive issues are at the core of this year’s legislative contests: Medicaid expansion and abortion.

WICHITA, Kansas — Tornadoes aren’t forming at the same pace as usual this year, creating one of Kansas’ quietest storm seasons in recent memory.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca will be tested locally as part of a clinical trial seeking to enroll 30,000 participants nationwide.

The University of Kansas Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital will lead the local effort, which calls for the recruitment of 1,500 participants in Kansas and Missouri.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins is in two unusual situations: His re-election bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat is being complicated by two primary challengers and opposition from some in the GOP establishment.

But Watkins is also charged with three felonies related to registering to vote using a Topeka UPS store as his address.

WICHITA, Kansas — Jennifer Mathes kept her expectations for the spring low.

A sudden, pandemic-driven shift from classrooms to online instruction was bound to throw the Blue Valley school district a curve. That would be a loss for the quality of teaching she could expect for her daughter.

But for the fall?

Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which operates health clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, has offered severance packages to dozens of employees as it reels from a financial crisis caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-six employees in communications, development, education, human resources, finance and public affairs were eligible to receive the offers. Friday is their deadline to accept. As of Thursday, nine had accepted.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The state of Kansas has settled a class-action lawsuit with attorneys who represent Kansas foster children.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Kansas has been added to the state’s travel advisory, along with Oklahoma, Delaware and 16 other states previously on their list.

Anyone traveling to New York from Kansas must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

A lawsuit brought by one of 100 military veterans who were sexually abused by a physician assistant at the VA hospital in Leavenworth will determine if the federal government is liable for damages in what the plaintiff’s lawyer described as “the largest sexual abuse scandal in the history of the VA.”

“Countless veterans have never gotten their day in court, have never gotten justice,” the lawyer, Daniel A. Thomas, said in opening statements at the federal trial, which began today. “And more importantly, not a single person from the VA has ever been held accountable.”

The tiny town of Merinac, Kansas -- the setting of KJ Dell’Antonia’s new novel, “The Chicken Sisters” -- is a fictional place. But anyone familiar with a two-lane stretch of road in southeast Kansas will immediately recognize it:

This is “Chicken Dinner Road” -- home of Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s, two restaurants that sit about 300 feet apart and have been the center of a fried chicken debate for 70 years.

As the 2020 election season approaches, KMUW's Election Blueprint will bring you the news and information you need to be an informed and engaged voter. This first video addresses how to check your voter registration status, how to update your registration, and how to register.

Here are some helpful links:

WICHITA, Kansas — A month ago, the University of Kansas Hospital had as few as nine of its beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Now, it’s about twice that.

When the coronavirus-driven statewide shutdown began to go away in mid-May, clinicians in Kansas were confirming about 100 new infections a day. Now, that number has tripled.

Virtually everyone in Kansas is under an order to wear masks when they’re in public starting Friday.

Yet the executive order, officially issued by Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday, comes with exceptions.

The University of Kansas has reversed course and decided to leave it up to department chairs and directors whether to hold in-person classes this fall.

Faculty members had revolted last week after they were told to return to campus beginning Aug. 24, unless they could invoke an exemption under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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