Mask Optional June 3, 2022
Effective immediately, masks will be optional on our campus as will the use of plexiglass. This move does not apply to UK HealthCare facilities.
We’ve made this decision after consultation with our START team of health professionals and researchers as well as elected representatives from our faculty, staff and students.
COVID-19 is — and will remain — a health challenge for our community, our Commonwealth and our country, and we must remain vigilant.
That hasn’t changed.
But several things have changed.
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.
As the 2022 academic year concludes, more than 90 percent of our community is vaccinated — the single best defense against contracting COVID or, if exposed, to becoming seriously ill.
As new people join the UK community for the 2023 academic year, we will aggressively promote and incentivize vaccinations among those we welcome to the institution. We have demonstrated the success of such an approach here at UK through incentives and a culture of encouragement, communication, easy access and support. We will continue to require them for all new hires.
Moreover, even as there have been increases in incidence rates, our hospital bed numbers and capacity have remained stable, reflecting the importance of vaccinations and our ability to manage this disease as we transition from a pandemic to a disease that is endemic to our community and world.
We also have ample masks, plexiglass, cleaning equipment and other supplies for our community to utilize as necessary.
While masks will now be optional, we want to strongly encourage members of our community who want to do so to wear them as an added layer of protection. Just as we will respect those who no longer want to wear masks, we should — and we will — respect the decisions of those who choose to do so.
Similarly, if people, such as directors in residence halls or faculty in classrooms, want to maintain plexiglass as an additional layer of protection, we will honor and respect that request as well.
Finally, we have built — and will sustain — the modern public health infrastructure necessary to keep our community safe and support its needs through COVID or other challenges that may arise.
To that end, UK Health Corps remains operational and available to support our community’s health and safety needs. We will also continue to monitor the situation with consideration of multiple parameters as we have done successfully these past two years, and we remain ready to pivot as needed. Students and employees should continue to use the self-report tool to receive timely support from UK Health Corps. If circumstances or recommendations shift, they are prepared to respond appropriately. Please, do not hesitate to reach out to them with questions about the resources available to you.
We have met every challenge thus far. That’s why we are prepared and ready for this next step as we manage and meet whatever challenges lie ahead.
Thank you for all you have done to keep our community safe and well.
Eli Capilouto President