As school start dates near, health officials advise caution, social distancing in preparation

(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

The Riley County Health Department reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday, bringing the local total to 411.

Additionally, 293 of those who previously tested positive are considered to be recovered. There are 115 active cases in the county.

As the fall semesters near for Kansas State and local K-12 schools, local health officer Julie Gibbs said the actions people take now will impact the success of those plans.

“We certainly want our students back in school, but we cannot do this without [the] community’s help,” Gibbs said.

For instance, social distancing, face-covering and good hand hygiene are still important. These measures can ensure students will be able to successfully return to the classroom, Gibbs said.

“There are downstream benefits” to making the right choices now, Ascension Via Christi president and CEO Bob Copple said.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Education rejected Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan to put off the start date of public K-12 schools until after Labor Day. Gibbs said she’s confident local schools will make the right choice for their schools and kids. For specifics about how this vote might affect your family, Vivienne Uccello, public information officer for the city of Manhattan, encouraged parents to check their school district’s website.

(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)
(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Earlier this week, Local Health Order No. 15 extended some existing business restrictions and local guidelines including:

  • Gatherings limited to 50 people
  • Employee screenings at the start of each shift
  • Bars and restaurants closing to the public at midnight

Businesses with questions about best practices should call the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at 785-776-8829 or email Additional resources for reopening local businesses are available at

Individuals with symptoms are encouraged to call the screening line at 785-323-6400. The screening line is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. People with non-emergent questions about COVID-19 in Riley County should send an email to

To be tested in Riley County, individuals must present at least two symptoms of COVID-19. The complete list of known symptoms is available on the health department website.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.