Leaders from Kansas State University are pleading with students and community members to take personal responsibility to avoid another university shutdown due to COVID-19.

A joint statement from President Richard Myers, Provost Charles Taber and Vice President for Student Life Thomas Lane warns that if the guidelines aren’t followed K-State could be forced to shut down, similar to last spring, calling it an uncomfortable truth in the time we live in. The statement cited the example from the University of North Carolina, which shut down Monday after just one week, due to emerging COVID-19 outbreaks.

The statement continues by saying “COVID-19 doesn’t stop at the classroom door or the campus boundary. Lives literally depend on it.”

Students were observed crowding bars in Aggieville and having large gatherings over the weekend, leading to calls from Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi for better enforcement of the local health orders. Reddi discussed the issue Tuesday on In Focus, following her recent trips to Aggieville this past weekend where students were observed in large gatherings in several Aggieville establishments.

“If we have ordinances or health orders in place, who is enforcing those, I don’t know. That’s the problem,” she said.

Under Riley County Local Health Order No. 18, a permit is required to hold a large gathering of 50 or more people. Those failing to comply with any provision of the order can be fined, upon conviction up to $100. Reddi says it is something that isn’t being enforced strongly enough.

“If the health order said 50 people and you need a permit, what happens if you don’t have a permit and you still have a 50, 60, 70 people gathering, what happens? I don’t have an answer,” she said.

In a statement last Friday, RCPD Director Dennis Butler said the police department’s goal throughout the pandemic has been to serve and educate the public to comply with the city ordinance. He says officers are not eager to hand out violations and encourage voluntary compliance.

Police have issued at least two mask violation citations in the past week. The first was issued to 30-year-old Katherine Bragg inside O’Malley’s Thursday Aug. 13 and the second to 24-year-old Kelsey Smith at Tubby’s Sports Bar Aug. 14. Both were cited for “employees being in common or food prep areas without a face covering.”

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