LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) - Health officials have identified college parties as hazards for the coronavirus outbreaks. In Lawrence, a college professor took a video showing dozens of students packed into a house not wearing masks.
On Saturdays after football games, parties have a way of popping up on Emily Knight's street. It filled the stairs and the front yard. This Fall she's been careful not to go to any large ones.
“Even if I don't get sick, I could get someone else sick,” senior Emily Knight said.
That's why she and her roommates were shocked at the sheer number of people next door on Saturday night.
“There's just people swarmed all over the front porch and the yards of both houses over there,” Knight said.
A University of Kansas professor posted the video of the party expressing concern for the lack of masks and close proximity of the people there though he would not speak to KCTV5 News on camera for this story. Neither would the people who live at the two houses involved.
“It took me back for a second. I was like, ‘whoa I didn't expect all those people’," Knight said.
KU has been testing hundreds of people every week. They've discouraged large parties, but some students KCTV5 News talked to weren't surprised they're still happening.
“Since school has started, the parties have gotten bigger, and less precautionary,” Knight said.
“There are a couple of smaller parties. That one seems a little large,” student Gabriel Chapman-Rienstra said.
Chapman-Rienstra believes most students are avoiding the party scene this Fall.
“I think due to COVID it's pretty much necessary to avoid events like that, at least that size,” Chapman-Rienstra said.
Monday, the university issued public health bans for both the houses involved in the party, a spokesperson wrote:
“While the university has received reports of off-campus parties, often there has not been enough information to act on — for instance, reports that don’t contain names of individuals or organizations involved. We are acting when we have enough information to pursue a public health ban and/or the student conduct process. Related to activities this past weekend, we have issued public health bans to individuals at two off-campus residences. Most of our students are doing the right thing, but we will not tolerate selfish and irresponsible behavior that puts the health and safety of our community at risk.”
“90% of us are all being safe. This is an exception to that,” Chapman-Rienstra said.
“As a whole, the KU community is not like this,” Knight said.
The Lawrence Police Department sent KCTV5 News a statement.
The Lawrence Police Department has received multiple inquiries about enforcement measures regarding large parties and gatherings occurring over the weekend within the city limits.
Related calls were received as noise or loud music complaints. Our officers handled those calls as such, and no citations were issued.
The police department’s ability to enforce local health orders, including issuing citations or arresting for violation of such orders, is limited by law. Generally, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office handles these types of complaints, which any member of the public may bring directly to that office or to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.
If any county agency receives a complaint about a violation of an emergency order that is associated with one of our calls for service, the police department will provide any reports or information associated with the call to that agency to the fullest extent we’re able.
These are unprecedented times, and LPD is continuously working with local and county agencies to navigate the enforcement of public health orders. We encourage everyone to follow state and local health agencies' recommendations to protect themselves and each other from the virus.