UK asking students to notify university of Spring Break travel


White Hall Classroom Building

Rick Childress

UK officials are asking students to notify the university of their Spring Break travel plans by filling out a voluntary form “so we can support returning travelers and safeguard our community as much as possible,” a campus-wide email sent Monday showed.

The form is for anyone in the UK community who plans to travel domestically or internationally.

In the email, UK President Eli Capilouto discouraged travel to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea and wrote that students who travel to those countries will not be allowed back on campus until after successfully completing a 14-day isolation period. 

If a country is added to the CDC list for heightened travel advisory, then returning students from those countries will also have to undergo a 14-day isolation period, Capilouto wrote.

“We also know many students and employees may have already made personal travel arrangements in the United States and abroad. You need to educate yourself and consider the risks associated with your destination, especially if it is a country where the Department of State or Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have issued specific guidance related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” Capilouto wrote.

UK’s education abroad programs will also continue with its spring break programs in countries other than China, Italy and South Korea, Capilouto wrote. Students who no longer feel comfortable going on those trips should notify their program directors. 

Capilouto’s email came while Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 locally is due to “community spread,” meaning that the virus is being spread person-to-person. 

As of Sunday evening, Kentucky has four confirmed cases of coronavirus. Two of those cases are Harrison County residents, one is from Fayette County and the other is in Jefferson County.

Only the first case—a Harrison County resident, who Beshear said was a Walmart employee and is in improving condition—is being treated at UK Chandler Hospital, UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said on Sunday.

“The patient is not a member of our community,” Capilouto wrote in his email Monday. “But that does not lessen the anxiety we feel about a virus with so many unknowns. This is an uncertain and unsettling time.”

In bold type, Capilouto urged those with questions about UK’s plan and preparedness for the virus to email [email protected]

The email is closely monitored by the university’s workgroup dedicated to responding to the virus, Capilouto wrote.

Both Capilouto and Beshear urged public calm and the practice of good hygiene. Capilouto’s email included the following list to maintain good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • ​Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Kentuckians with questions about coronavirus are encouraged to visit the Department of Public Health’s COVID19 page or call 1 (800) 222-1222. UK students and faculty members looking for more information about UK’s response to coronavirus can find updates on UK’s website

The city government website has added a page dedicated to COVID-19. 

Lexington officials have also set up a call center for questions about COVID-19, but not to give medical advice. The phone line is 859-899-2222 and will operate during regular business hours.