Continued masking, testing among Capilouto’s plans for spring semester


Emily Girard

UK will continue to require all individuals to wear masks in campus buildings and unvaccinated individuals to take weekly COVID tests in spring 2022, according to a spring guide released Thursday.

In a campus-wide email, UK president Eli Capilouto announced the guide’s launch and informed the campus community about the university’s continued handling of COVID-19 in light of recent reports of the Omicron variant.

“We all have seen reports about the Omicron variant of this virus,” Capilouto said. “We must be vigilant. And as a campus community, please know that we will be.”

The guide was reviewed by UK’s START team, as well as an advisory group of faculty, staff and students. The group voted to keep “the most significant policy provisions” from last semester in place, such as required masking indoors and continued testing for unvaccinated individuals. UK HealthCare will continue to require employees to be vaccinated, and mandatory vaccines for other employees are still being considered.

Capilouto also said he plans for the majority of classes in the spring semester to be in-person. However, he also said in his email that any of these policies could change with the trajectory of the virus. UK will resume updating its COVID-19 data dashboard in January.

“We’ve demonstrated tremendous resilience and resolve over what is now nearly two years in confronting the pandemic,” he said. “Because of you, we have been incredibly successful as a community that cares and that places our students and our mission of advancing Kentucky first.”

Capilouto encouraged all members of the campus community to sign up for a flu or COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters if eligible. The spring plan set a new goal of 90% vaccination among students, faculty and staff. All fully vaccinated adults can sign up for boosters six months after receiving their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The email encouraged individuals to self-report their vaccinations if they received a dose at a provider not affiliated with the university.

The email also mentioned the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case on Jan. 7 that will review the legality of extended vaccine mandates. This case could potentially result in the current vaccine or testing mandates to be extended to all UK locations, not just those in Fayette County. UK has already requested that employees located outside of Fayette County upload their vaccine documentation, which can be done here.

“We have been successful because we have stuck together as a community. We shared information, relied on experts in health and science and created structures to support and sustain our community,” Capilouto said. “We will continue those efforts and those levels of support as we move into a new semester, one that I know will contain both challenges and opportunities.”