UK intends to operate normally again beginning in Fall 2021


A student wearing a mask exits Gatton Student Center on the first day of in-person classes on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Braden Ramsey

Just two days after revealing it will hold in-person commencement at the conclusion of this spring semester, the University of Kentucky has announced intentions to return to normal operations in the fall of 2021.

“Because of your efforts – your commitment to this place and its compelling purpose—I’m excited to share with you some initial planning assumptions regarding a return to normal operations in the fall of 2021,” President Eli Capilouto stated in a letter to campus staff and students.

“We know that this past year has not been easy,” the letter continues. “But your hard work, your commitment to a safe and healthy community and the prospects of a campus that is vaccinated and protected make planning for a return to more normal operations possible.”

Classes are set to return to “levels of in-person instruction in similar numbers to that of fall 2019 in terms of course delivery and attendance.” Capilouto says that the planning process for such a move has already begun, and that the university will “finalize details and release a comprehensive plan for our return to more in-person instruction” over the summer.

He also expressed a desire to bring employees back in-person so the university can uphold its obligation as one of the state’s top post-secondary institutions.

“While we still will offer flexibility to supervisors in determining remote work options for their respective units, we are prioritizing getting our employees back on campus so we can continue to fulfill our promise as Kentucky’s university,” Capilouto’s message reads. “We are a residential research campus. It is part of what makes us distinctive and special. We must have the staff on campus to support that environment.”

UK joins a select number of colleges, including Ohio State and New York University, that have announced plans for a more normal fall. 

The university spent millions on reopening for the 2020 – 2021 school year, including significant investments in COVID-19 testing. A return to normal operation will enable the university to market towards incoming freshmen seeking a change from the last year of online learning.

Capilouto said the ability to reopen is a credit to the actions of campus employees.

“We can do this. We will do this. It’s who we are. It is what we do,” Capilouto said.