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Lawrence looks for ways to crack down on house parties

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials are looking for ways to put the brakes on house parties in neighborhoods near the University of Kansas campus as the number of positive COVID-19 cases among students continues to rise.

After a debate during the Lawrence City Commission meeting Tuesday, a majority of the commissioners said they were interested in at least considering an ordinance that would make it a municipal offense to violate local health orders designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

The discussion came as the the university announced that the total number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 841, an increase of 42 cases since Friday, the paper reported. Multiple house parities also were reported over the weekend.

City Attorney Toni Wheeler said the offense would be a misdemeanor that could be prosecuted in municipal court. Violators could face a fine of no more than $500, up to 30 days in jail or both.

However, Vice Mayor Brad Finkeldei and Mayor Jennifer Ananda said they were not sure that creating a municipal ordinance would be the best approach, and that perhaps stronger disciplinary action from the university, such as bans from campus, mandatory quarantines or suspensions, would be more effective.

As schools reopen, teachers have been among those raising concerns. In Wichita, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas alleges that a teacher was wrongly disciplined for posting concerns about the district's reopening procedures, The Wichita Eagle reports.

The ACLU is demanding in a letter that officials rescind the teacher’s reprimand, saying that the district’s move to discipline her was a way of “weaponizing inapplicable policies as a pretext to censor them.” The teacher does not want to be named for...



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