Despite campus rules, some go without masks


A group of unmasked students walk towards The 90 on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Kernel news staff

Warmer weather, pandemic fatigue, more vaccinations: whatever the reason, there have been a lot of exposed faces on campus in the last few weeks. The university’s mask policy says masks should be worn at all times on campus – even outside – unless eating, drinking or alone in a room.

To test whether students were following this mask mandate, the Kernel observed the mask-wearing habits of students on campus for one hour on Hilltop Avenue. Between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., 69 people passed the observation point.

43 people were wearing masks and 26 people were not, leaving the mask mandate with just above a 62% compliance rate. This rate jives with the observations of students, who said they see fewer people on campus wearing masks.

“I think it’s just like with the vaccine coming in, they just think it’s safer,” said Tony Li, a freshman computer science major.

Hank Sutherland, a freshman education major, agreed that students are using vaccination – whether they are vaccinated or not – as a reason to stop wearing masks.

“I haven’t seen recent statistics, but I’m pretty sure cases are going down. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, although I think that that’s just the reasoning in general,” Sutherland said. He has noticed mask usage decreasing mostly outside, which is fine with him.

“I normally keep mine on. But if you’re outside, then I don’t think that would affect me much,” Sutherland said.

Freshman Quinn Caffaro agreed that students aren’t wearing masks outside, understandably because of the weather.

“Nothing’s really changed since I came back in January in terms of mask wearing. So I think we’re, I think we’re good,” Caffaro said. He thinks UK is on a good path with vaccinations to bring campus back to normal in the fall.

“If everyone complies to the protocols, and if they don’t get the vaccine, they can,” Cafarro said. “If not, it’s their choice.”

Some students say campus should still enforce mask wearing this semester.

“I think we should,” Li said. “Yeah, just end strong.”

COVID-19 cases among UK students in the spring semester are significantly down from the fall, with the number of new cases falling in the single digits most days.

As of April 10, there were 29 active cases among students and fewer than 1,300 cases total since reentry testing began in the fall. Cases are low enough that UK loosened its housing policy to allow students to have one residential guest beginning on April 12.

Regardless of the current status of COVID-19 on campus, students think next fall will be better and are looking forward to normalcy.

“I’m excited for sports games. As a first year, I didn’t really get the full Rupp Arena experience,” Sutherland said. “So I think that’ll be fun.”

“I’m pretty – like I’m hopeful, knowing that I can have the next three years to have fun,” Caffaro said. “So if anything, we’ll see what happens.”