Answering questions on UK’s COVID-19 policy

Students sit in front of a masked wildcat statue on the Social Staircase in the Gatton Student Center during the first day of classes for the fall 2020 semester on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Haley Simpkins

What’s the deal with testing?

All students were required to be tested within seven days of their arrival on campus.

Test results are estimated to take 24 to 72 hours. The website UK has dedicated to reporting testing results runs on a three-day lag.

According to UK’s reopening playbook, randomized testing will occur throughout the semester for samples of the student population to monitor the infection rate. The playbook also mentioned testing campus wastewater to track general infection levels.

However, UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said the university has not made decisions on follow-up testing like it is mentioned in the playbook.

After the initial round of testing, students who show symptoms will be able to get tested through University Health Services. But unlike the return-to-campus test, further testing will not be free to students. Blanton said UHS would work with student insurance plans to cover the cost, and for uninsured students, UHS will bill the student at a discounted rate.

After receiving backlash for not offering testing to employees, UK announced that employees were also eligible for on-campus testing, though it was not required to come to work. Testing for employees is free regardless of health insurance, though it is unclear if testing will still be offered to employees once the five locations open for student testing close.

When do I need to quarantine or self-isolate?

Students who test positive will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, must be fever-free for three days and show an improvement in respiratory symptoms before returning to class.

Students who have been exposed to COVID-19, but not tested positive, will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.

Instructors who test positive for COVID-19 must self-quarantine.

Where can I quarantine or self-isolate?

Students who live on campus and test positive will be asked to quarantine in one of the designated quarantine spaces: Ingels Hall, University Inn, 441 Rose Lane or a contracted hotel. Students can also choose to return home to quarantine.

Students who self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure will be asked to remain in their own room.

Sarah Nikirk, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services and head of the housing restart workstream, said 169 total beds would be available to quarantine students who test positive.

UK Dining is providing meals for all students who quarantine because of a positive test as well as those who are self-isolating due to potential exposure.

What about classes?

UK adopted a three-mode model of instruction with online, in-person and hybrid courses. Students can find which category each of their classes are under the course number on their myUK schedule.

Students had previously expressed concern over the distance learning fee they were charged, since students did not choose to have online classes.

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said the distance learning fee was in place before this year and “allows us to provide these crucial digital platforms and other related services,” such as remote-teaching technology for 90 percent of centrally used classrooms.

However, Blanton said students can reach out their financial aid counselor to begin the appeals process with the Financial Ombud’s office.

Classrooms have been rearranged according to social distancing guidelines.

Kathi Kern, head of the academic course delivery restart team, said reduced capacity in the classrooms ranges anywhere from two-thirds to one-quarter capacity, depending on classroom layout and furnishings. Kern also said centrally located classrooms will have sanitizing supplies inside.

Students are not to move or rearrange classroom seating and should be sure to should also leave adequate space when entering and leaving classrooms, not crowding doorways or lingering in the hallways before or after class.

Undergraduate students are not allowed to conduct research for credit because the university is only in Phase Two of its research resumption plan.

Martha Peterson, Senior Associate Vice President for Research, said this phase allows for only for 20 to 50 percent of activity in campus research workspaces and only after faculty have submitted a detailed safety plan for approval. Peterson said undergraduates can return to research once the university enters Phase Three if they are included in the faculty members safety plan.

What about missing class because of quarantine?

Students who miss class because of quarantine are supposed to reach out to their professors and work out an individual plan. For some courses, students may be able to participate virtually.

“This fall, we will see that almost all classrooms have been outfitted with hardware capable of engaging a remote audience, with a robust use of Canvas and other University-wide platforms regardless of how a course is being delivered,” Kern said.

Kern said there would be a specific letter for quarantining/isolating students to give to their professors which will be a part of the follow-up email from contact tracers.

Poston said that the UK Health Corps has an academic coordinator who can work with students on issues with instruction and learning while isolated.

“The services these connectors offer range from making sure a student knows how to access telehealth services through University Health to helping address technology or other daily life needs,” Poston said.

Students can contact the UK Health Corps at 859-218-7233 or email [email protected]

If an instructor is in quarantine, Kern said course delivery will occur through remote learning technologies. However, if instructors are unable to deliver their course in an entirely remote format during quarantine, that will be addressed case by case on a department or college level.

How do I do my daily screening?

All students will be asked to complete a symptom screening starting on Aug. 17. that must be filled out every day. Students will receive the screening over email every morning beginning this week, said Blanton.

“Soon, we will have an app that is still being developed that students will be able to download to complete this screening. That app is simply an additional tool that students will have to do the screening each day. Until the app is finalized, students will use the online screening tool via email exclusively,” Blanton said.

Students with no symptoms will be allowed to complete their day as normal; students with symptoms will be contacted by a member of the UK Health Corps and asked to return to their living space.

“If, following communication from the UK Health Corps, the student does not complete the daily screening, the case will be forwarded to the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Conduct for further behavioral action according to the Student Code of Conduct,” Capilouto said in the email.

Non-medical campus buildings will not be using checkpoints, passes or digital receipts of symptoms to allow entrance into the facility.

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said this decision was made because such checkpoints are not currently listed as one of the universal precautions by the CDC.

“The daily attestation of symptoms is both a mechanism to remind our community to be highly cognizant of their symptoms, but to also give them an opportunity to receive follow up care/support from University of Kentucky Health Corps,” Blanton said.

Lance Poston, Project Manager for UK Health Corps, said a standard part of this outreach would be for a Wellness Connector to reach out to students who are quarantined of self-isolated to better overall well-being.

“The services these connectors offer range from making sure a student knows how to access telehealth services through University Health to helping address technology or other daily life needs,” Poston said.

How is housing different?

Room capacity was adjusted in residence halls so that all residents would have a bedroom to themselves.

Common areas in dorms will remain open but at a reduced capacity with maximum occupancy signage posted.

Residence halls will also adopt new visitor policies. Sarah Nikirk, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services and head of the housing restart workstream, said residents are still allowed to have two guests, but they must have a valid UK I.D. – no non-UK students or minors will be allowed to visit.

Visitor policies will also begin with a phased approach, Nikirk said. From Aug. 8 to Sept. 7, students are not to have visitors, aside from family assisting with move-in. From Sept. 8 to Nov. 28, non-symptomatic students will be allowed to have two guests who are UK students and show no COVID-19 symptoms. Family members can pick up or drop off residents. Nikirk said this policy is subject to change if an outbreak were to occur.

Students who wish to change rooms must also wait until Sept. 7 to make that change. Nikirk said if the change is granted, students will have to wait to move-into the new room until it has been cleaned according to CDC guidelines. This same procedure will be applied to the room the student has vacated.

Greek housing will also look different this semester. Nikirk said residents will be asked to self-isolate if positive for COVID-19, just as with residence halls.

“This may mean that the student returns home, if possible. If that is not possible, the organizations will assist them in making alternative plans,” Nikirk said.

Nikirk also said there will be no visitors allowed in the house, including out-of-house members.

In the case that classes move online, a residence hall will remain open for students who cannot return home.

Where do I have to wear my mask?

According to UK’s face coverings and distancing policy, masks will be required at all times on campus unless students are alone in their room, eating, drinking or exercising. That includes when students are outside and in the classroom.

If students do not wear face-coverings, they may be asked to leave the classroom. Instructors can choose to remove their mask, if necessary, for teaching, as long as they remain behind a clear barrier.

Blanton said wellness stations around campus, including the front desk of every residence hall, will offer facial coverings, disinfectant, and other necessary resources.

 

What’s the threshold for moving to all remote learning?

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said there is not one number or factor that the university is using as a threshold, instead looking at a variety of factors.

“Things like: PPE supply, adequate beds for quarantining or isolation, critical care capacity at our hospital. A combination of factors – and data – will drive our decisions, not one number. Our goal is to provide the best educational experience possible in the safest possible environment,” Blanton said.

How is dining working?

Scott Henry, Dining Partnership Executive Director and head of the dining restart workstream, said that due to physical distancing guidelines, seating has been reduced to 100 in Champions Kitchen and 120 in Fresh Food Company. These locations will no longer have self-serve and will have carry-out options available.

Henry said all meals from dining halls meals will be packaged in Styrofoam to-go containers, but students can purchase reusable to-go containers if they wish. Students would pay a one-time fee of $5 and bring back the container after each use to return theirs for cleaning and get a new one for that meal.

Retail dining on campus will also operate with reduced seating and carry-out options, however, due to reduced capacity in the dining halls, students can now use meal swipes Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at these locations:

• the three Wildcat Pantries

• Auntie Anne’s

• Subway in the Gatton Student Center

• Panda Express in the Gatton Student Center

• Intermezzo, Subway at M.I. King Library

• Papa John’s at the 90

Are academic resources still available?

According the UK Libraries website, campus libraries will operate on reduced hours and with more intensive cleaning. Overall seating capacity will also be limited.

Group study and meeting rooms will not be available for use this semester. Communal supplies such as dry erase marker and erasers, public computers, and other commonly shared materials will no longer be available for checkout.

Hand sanitizer, sanitation wipes and gloves will also be available for students to use. Students are also encouraged to utilize no or low contact service and resources including online databases and online chats with librarians.

Students will have access to both in-person and virtual student success resources. These campus offices are offering dual modes of operation:

• The Study

• MathSkellar

• Transformative Learning

• The Writing Center

• Disability Resource Center

• CARES

• Stuckert Career Center

• UK Counseling Center

• Student Financial Wellness Center

• University Health Services

Campus bubble?

A campus bubble is not the official plan because students are not restricted from the city of Lexington.

However, Nikirk said the university asks that students remain on campus throughout the semester, including asking students not to visit home unless for necessary travel.

“Because the situation is fluid, if a student does need to travel for any reason, we would ask that they follow recommended CDC health and safety guidelines upon their return,” Nikirk said.

Are campus events still happening?

Ashley Reed, Director of University Events and head of the events restart workstream, said the approval process for hosting events on campus would remain the same, but new guidelines for COVID-19 safety are in place for during the event. Reed said these include:

• maintaining a minimum of 6 feet between individuals

• wearing face coverings

• tracking attendance

• recording attendee information

• hosting a structured and guided event/program

• avoiding self-service food and beverages (buffets)

Once the details of the event are submitted to the Office of University Events, an Event Manager will work to modify the event to make sure it meets UK’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Reed said failure to comply with these policies may result in the loss of reservation privileges. If an event is hosted by a student or registered student organization and does not follow guidelines, Reed said these violations can be reported to the Office of Student Conduct.

Reed also said the Office of University Events and the Student Organization and Activities office are teaming up to offer a virtual Event Panel where students can ask any questions they may have about hosting events on campus with these new requirements in place.

Miscellaneous

The White bus route will not be in operation this semester. Instead, all nine buses will be operating on the Blue Route. The Green Route and weekend Yellow Route will run normally. Face coverings are required on buses, which will run on reduced capacity. All riders are required to sit, no standing. There will also be physical distancing signage at bus stops and shelters. Passengers will be required to load and unload from the rear doors.

Students can submit an incident report for any non-compliance with social distancing guidelines at this link or by directly contacting the Office of Student Conduct.