How will UK regulate mask mandates?

Gillian Stawiszynski

The University of Kentucky recently announced that vaccines will not be required, but strongly encouraged next semester. There has been discourse over this since the vaccines were approved. Is it ethical for anyone to require COVID-19 vaccinations? Anti-vaxxers, jumping for joy after President Capilouto’s email, have been fighting against vaccinations in England and the United States since the smallpox outbreak of the late 1800’s.

Unvaccinated gym-goers, club attendees and any others who step foot on UK’s campus will be required to wear masks, even in outside spaces that have more traffic, such as the congested Funkhouser walkway. 

It was difficult to regulate the mask mandate last semester, seeing as the Gatton Student Center’s social staircase created a COVID-19 frenzy of students eating and catching up with friends in between classes. This was before vaccines were made accessible. Now that UK will implement different regulations for those who are vaccinated and for those who are not, how exactly are they planning on regulating who can wear a mask and who can’t? 

Some of the university facilities that have certainly followed all protocols and made sure that everyone did their part to stay safe were the Johnson Center and Alumni Gym. If someone kept their mask lowered even after taking a drink of water, for instance, the student workers at these locations knew immediately and politely reminded them of the campus COVID-19 regulations. 

Should students begin to wear name tags indicating their vaccination status, or will we be required to get a barcode on our student ID that is scanned every time a member of university faculty or administration suspects someone who is unvaccinated is skirting the rules?

In a perfect world, this would work. Administrators and faculty would know immediately with pure brain power whether someone is vaccinated. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Capilouto stated that he and his team are staying updated on CDC announcements and staying vigilant, and encourages that everyone should, too. 

This plan is well thought out and covers every base, stating regulations for all campus operations from K week to dining facilities. However, the lack of information on how UK will regulate masking up for unvaccinated people alludes to this also being a recommendation instead of a regulation.