Campus News

UK Begins Random Student Testing, Continues Wastewater Testing

an employee of the COVID-19 testing company, Wild Health, swabs a student's nose during COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the semester.
A Wild Health employee administers a COVID-19 swab test to a UK student on Aug. 3 at the outdoor testing site across the street from The 90. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2020) — The University of Kentucky has begun a regimen of random testing among its student population, university officials announced Friday, as part of continued efforts to use science and data to drive decisions around keeping the community safe.

The announcement, recommended by UK’s START team, follows a productive dialogue in which senior leaders engaged last week with Dr. Deborah Birx, the national coronavirus response coordinator.

Here are details of next steps:

  • Starting Friday, UK Health Corps began notifying students that they had been selected for required random COVID-19 testing. The testing regimen will occur only among the student population that is physically coming to campus.   
  • These tests are being administered at no cost to students, through UK’s existing student testing site at The 90 and at the new student testing lane at the community site at College Way.
  • This random testing will take place throughout the remainder of the semester.

Guided by recommendations from federal experts, as well as the START team of world-class clinicians and specialists, officials said they believe this initiative will continue to make the campus a safer place to fulfill UK’s missions of education, research, service and care. Data gathered through this process will further inform decisions.

This initiative bolsters and complements existing, ongoing efforts designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which include:

  • Recent steps to test wastewater from residence halls. Data collected through this method can reveal the virus’ presence in a given facility. This new initiative is informing efforts, which began this past weekend, to require retesting among students who live in residence halls, as directed by the data emerging from this innovative detection method.
  • Expansion of optional retesting, at no cost, for any student who wishes to receive a test. Students can sign up at any time for an appointment at the testing site near The 90 here.
  • Implementation of COVID-19 testing for employees, at no cost, through our community testing sites at College Way and Eastern State Hospital. Employees can sign up for an appointment here.

“Everything we do is conceived — and implemented — with one goal in mind: keeping you safe,” UK President Eli Capilouto said.

Members of the campus community can keep updated on health and safety efforts at

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.