Kansas agencies to reopen June 13 with face masks required for visitors, employees

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TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration revealed plans Wednesday for state agencies to return to normal operations on June 13.

State offices have been closed or provided limited public access for more than a year because of the threat posed by COVID-19. The governor’s office said the availability of vaccinations and rapid testing combined with declining numbers of infections make it safe for workers to return to offices full time.

All visitors and employees will be required to wear a face covering inside state offices.

A directive from Administration secretary DeAngela Burns-Wallace discourages agencies from allowing employees to continue to work from home. Agency leaders who make exceptions should be mindful of equity issues, Burns-Wallace said, and must provide a written policy.

“While many employees have been required to work remotely to varying degrees over the course of this pandemic, this was due to public health and safety issues, not for the convenience of employees,” Burns-Wallace said.

Face coverings will be required inside buildings, including in stairwells, restrooms, elevators and break rooms, except when actively eating or drinking or working alone in an enclosed space. Agencies will have a small supply of face masks available for employees or visitors who arrive without one.

Agencies also may resume business-related travel as of June 13, except to high-risk locations identified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The restricted list currently includes Colorado counties, New York and several other states, and an assortment of foreign countries.

As of Monday, KDHE reported 5,016 Kansans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic reached the state in March of 2020. More than 310,000 cases have been confirmed.

However, numbers of new infections have declined dramatically as more than 2 million doses of vaccines have now been administered in Kansas.

Burns-Wallace’s memo says new guidelines were developed in consultation with KDHE, and that all state employees will have been offered the vaccine by the end of May.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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