By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2020

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas athletes must play without fans, Kansas State University is battling four new coronavirus outbreaks and a Topeka-area school district has halted in-person classes just days into the fall semester.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment has reported 19 coronavirus clusters tied to colleges and five related to K-12 schools since the start of the academic year.

The University of Kansas said Monday that athletes must play without fans at least through the end of September. The announcement came after compulsory testing of students arriving on campus uncovered 474 positive cases. Infections were particularly prevalent among sorority and fraternity members, with 270 positives among 2,698 members tested - a 10% positivity rate.

“Our football, volleyball, soccer and cross country contests will not be the same without you there. But this is the right decision for our community at this time,” Chancellor Douglas Girod said in a news release. “We will continue to evaluate safety conditions with the hope that we can welcome fans to athletics events after September.”

The four newest outbreaks in the Manhattan area included a cluster of 10 positive cases among the Kansas State football team, health officials said Monday. The other outbreaks were tied to the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and the Pi Beta Phi sorority. These outbreaks came in addition to outbreaks already reported at six other fraternities and sororities involving 53 members, The Manhattan Mercury reported.

In the Topeka area, the Silver Lake district temporarily shifted to virtual instruction after several non-teaching staff tested positive for COVID-19, hampering the district’s ability to properly clean the buildings, superintendent Tim Hallacy said on Facebook Monday. Hallacy said the district does not know of any cases among teachers or students.

More than 60% of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Topeka area had no known source of infection during the week beginning Aug. 16, Shawnee County health officials said Tuesday. Health officials labeled the county community’s transmission of the virus between Aug. 8 and Aug. 22 as “uncontrolled,” The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

Statewide, Kansas reported 1,564 new COVID-19 cases from Friday to Monday, bringing the state’s confirmed total to 42,612. Health officials also reported an additional three COVID-19-related deaths for a statewide death toll of 446.

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