Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

Ambitious project to improve autism services in Kansas unites parents, advocates, providers

By: - September 1, 2021

TOPEKA — Megan Bradshaw wants to make autism services more inclusive and eliminate red tape for Kansas families who need those services. In her experience, being the mother of a 7-year-old girl with autism is a full-time job on top of her other full-time job, in the juvenile services division of the Kansas Department of […]

Jeff Colyer diagnosed with prostate cancer, ends campaign for Kansas governor

By: - August 30, 2021

TOPEKA — Jeff Colyer announced Monday he was ending his campaign for Kansas governor and receiving treatment for prostate cancer. Colyer’s departure from the race clears the way for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to win the GOP nomination for governor in next year’s primary election. Colyer endorsed Schmidt’s campaign. “While I have always focused […]

Kansas mother grapples with ‘sucker punch’ of 4-year-old’s COVID-19 infection

By: - August 30, 2021

TOPEKA — Jenna Sutter Brown’s 4-year-old daughter couldn’t sleep last week. Hazel had bad congestion, a barking cough, a fever, and allergy-like symptoms. Her parents didn’t yet know the girl had COVID-19. “I try hard to listen to her and give her the chance to tell me what is wrong. And so I said, ‘What’s […]

House leader warned of ‘mask madness’ in Kansas schools, downplayed risk of COVID-19 to kids

By: - August 27, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins told his newsletter subscribers he was “heartened” to see so many school districts reject the governor’s advice that students wear face coverings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And he found it “troubling” that some schools were willing to embrace “mask madness.” “Nothing about these recommendations makes […]

Medical certifier relied on symptoms in report of early COVID-19 death in Leavenworth County

By: - August 25, 2021

TOPEKA — A medical certifier recently concluded COVID-19 contributed to a Jan. 9, 2020, death in Leavenworth County based on the person’s symptoms. The case would be the first known death from COVID-19 anywhere in the United States, altering the understanding of where and when the virus first spread. Previously, the first known death from […]

First COVID-19 death in Kansas now believed to be from early January 2020

By: - August 24, 2021

TOPEKA — A medical examiner in Kansas recently determined COVID-19 contributed to an individual’s death in January 2020, dramatically altering the timeline of when the virus first appeared in the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed the finding but declined to provide the exact date or county where the infected person died. […]

Kansas officials renew push for COVID-19 vaccine after FDA approval of Pfizer

By: - August 23, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas health secretary Lee Norman and Gov. Laura Kelly say formal approval of the safe and effective Pfizer vaccine removes a hurdle for defeating the latest surge of COVID-19 in Kansas. The rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant has killed hundreds of Kansans and sickened thousands more in recent weeks. On […]

Physician Andrew Schlachter of Saint Luke's Health System offered an emotional appeal Friday in support of vaccination against COVID-19 due to the surge in younger, sicker ICU patients undercut by the Delta variant of the virus. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

ICU doctors make emotional plea for public to get vaccinated against delta variant

By: and - August 20, 2021

Two physicians treating COVID-19 hospital patients joined Gov. Laura Kelly to urge Kansans to get vaccinated as a shield against the Delta variant.

Kansas health officials report 62 deaths from COVID-19 since Monday

By: - August 18, 2021

TOPEKA — Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, says the low rate of vaccination from COVID-19 and a lack of social distancing or wearing a face covering has allowed the delta variant to bring “so much of this country to its knees.” And this is only the beginning, he […]

Gov. Laura Kelly walks through the Capitol to a news conference Wednesday with Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to discuss the need for people to wear masks against the COVID-19 variant. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

COVID-19 is killing more Kansans now than a year ago

By: - August 13, 2021

TOPEKA — More Kansans are dying from COVID-19 now than they were a year ago, as new cases continue to escalate and the vaccine rate remains flat. The Kansas Department for Health and Environment on Friday reported 28 more residents have died from COVID-19 since the agency updated numbers on Wednesday. There were also 2,991 […]

Kansas educators eager for classroom learning, with attention to student safety and anxiety

By: - August 10, 2021

TOPEKA — Kansas educators refuse to be discouraged by the latest onslaught from a deadly virus that already has complicated their profession for the past 18 months. In fact, they are “bubbling” with excitement as they prepare for the start of a new school year with in-person learning, says Sherri Schwanz, a middle school music […]

Kansans ask lawmakers to ‘put aside politics’ at launch of redistricting tour

By: - August 9, 2021

MANHATTAN — Kansas residents unloaded frustrations with the GOP-led redistricting process on Monday as lawmakers launched a 14-stop, five-day blitz of town halls to gather public input into how political boundaries should be redrawn. Republicans characterized the online streaming of public forums as “unprecedented transparency,” brushing aside complaints about the short advance notice of meetings […]