Masks optional across UK, Capilouto announces


Jack Weaver

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

Emily Girard

Masks and plexiglass are now optional in all University of Kentucky campus buildings, excluding UK HealthCare facilities.

In a campus-wide email on Friday, university President Eli Capilouto said the change, effective immediately, was made after analyzing COVID-19 case and vaccination data with UK’s START team.

“We know that in our community, there is a strong acceptance of — and support for — taking individual responsibility with an optional mask approach, while utilizing the tools and measures available to protect ourselves and others,” Capilouto said in the email. “More than 90% of our community is vaccinated.”

Capilouto recognized that COVID-19 is still “a health challenge.” UK will continue to provide masks, plexiglass and cleaning equipment for those who still want to use them, as well as incentivizing vaccines for new students and hires.

UK Health Corps and its self-report tool will also remain operational, and students and staff are still encouraged to self-report test results to receive any needed resources.

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said that, along with high vaccination rates, a health-focused campus culture helped motivate the decision.

“We have a proven record on this campus – among students, faculty and staff – of people taking individual responsibility in helping ensure the collective health and safety of our community,” Blanton said.