University of Kentucky Chief Communications Officer Jay Blanton spoke with media in front of UK's Main Building following the announcement of UK's next steps in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Video by UK Marketing and Brand Strategy.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 11, 2020) — Today, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto sent a message to all students, faculty and staff explaining new information in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The emailed message is below.
Members of the University Community,
The health, safety, and well-being of everyone on our campus is our relentless priority at all times.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is already proving to be an unprecedented disruption to our University, Lexington community, Commonwealth, and world. The course it will take is uncertain, but the days and weeks ahead will be even more challenging. In an abundance of caution:
- The University of Kentucky will remain open, but instruction will continue through online or other alternatives from March 23 through April 3 (which are the two weeks after Spring Break for most of our students).
- The goal is to resume normal course delivery April 6.
- Our students can return to campus residence halls or take their classes from their apartments, home community, or any other location. We will accommodate all students, regardless of their choice about living options. Over the next 48 hours, we will communicate information about campus services, including housing and dining, that will remain open.
- We will be working with faculty, staff, and students about the specifics of online and alternative course delivery. There will be challenges for some students with accessing online or alternative platforms. Our Information Technology Services staff will be following up with more information about plans to ensure access.
- Our Health Workgroup will continue evaluating the trajectory of the virus and engaging in ongoing conversations with our community as we move toward April 6.
- Colleges, units, and faculty should create contingency plans should we need to extend the suspension of in-class instruction.
- Staff operations will continue as normal.
- Research and health care enterprise activities will continue as planned. Vice President of Research Lisa Cassis and her team will be communicating separately to faculty and staff engaged in research.
- All University-sponsored or endorsed travel internationally is suspended indefinitely. There is an appeals process.
- All travelers arriving from Europe and Japan will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival in the U.S. before they will be allowed to return to campus. The names and contact information of these travelers will be shared with UK HealthCare, who will follow up with them individually with additional guidance.
- Students who had planned to participate in a Summer Education Abroad program will be contacted by the UK Education Abroad and Exchanges Office by March 20 with a decision about the program.
- All University-sponsored or endorsed domestic travel is strongly discouraged. Our voluntary travel registry will continue indefinitely so we can continue to monitor travel plans to provide members of our campus community with the most up-to-date guidance and assistance.
- We will be evaluating campus events on a case-by-case basis. We will determine how to handle, or whether to host, events where large numbers of people may gather, with the goal of ensuring health and minimizing the potential transmission of the virus.
For the most up-to-date information regarding our plans and preparedness in addressing these challenges, please go to the special micro site we have established: www.uky.edu/coronavirus/.
We made all of these decisions informed by expert advice and relevant information. We have benefited also from engaging with other universities and the University of Louisville in particular.
We are especially sensitive to the fact that during the Break so many members of our community are traveling to countries throughout the world and to states with some of the highest incidence rates of the virus. Creating a two-week window after the Break reduces the risk of transmission; provides the opportunity for self-isolation for those who are sick; and allows us to prepare for the return of students.
We will use the next week to deep clean campus facilities; decide how best to accommodate students who return to campus immediately after Break; and prepare for full resumption of regular course delivery April 6.
This is an uncertain and anxious moment for all of us. The best thing to do is control what we each can control: our own health and travel habits. Be mindful of your wellness and be attentive to the wellness of others. It is what communities do.
As we work together to keep our campus healthy and safe, we should remember that cultural differences can impact the ways in which members of our community respond to this challenge. For example, some of our community members from different cultures—including some of our international students—choose to wear masks as a sign of respect for the health of others as well as a precaution regarding their own health. We should respect cultural difference not denigrate it. Someone’s country of origin has nothing to do with their level of risk in contracting the virus. Let’s be sensitive to our surroundings and celebrate our differences, remembering that diversity and inclusion are at the heart of who we are as a community.
We will continue to work through this in a smart, methodical, and compassionate way.
Eli Capilouto President
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.