LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 23, 2021) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto issued an update to the campus community about the university's response to COVID-19 on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 23. You can read that message below.
As we begin a holiday period that I hope provides you with time for rest and renewal, I want you to know that we will continue over the break to monitor the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus as part of our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our community.
We all have seen reports about the Omicron variant of this virus. Many stories — and some initial studies — strongly suggest that this variant is much more transmissible, but also may be less severe in terms of the illness it causes, particularly for those who have been vaccinated, and especially for those who have received a booster shot. Some countries have experienced spikes in incident rates, driven by Omicron, and a majority of new cases of the virus in this country appear to be caused by this variant as well.
We must be vigilant. And as a campus community, please know that we will be.
Today, we have put online our spring playbook that outlines policies and procedures on campus with respect to COVID-19. You can access the playbook here.
As we did last semester, the playbook was reviewed by the START team and an advisory group comprised of faculty, staff and student leaders that meets periodically to discuss UK’s COVID-19 response. We also provided elected faculty, staff and student leaders the opportunity to review the playbook and offer feedback. The most significant policy provisions — required masking indoors, continued vaccination or testing — remain in place as they were this fall. We are planning for a spring semester in which the vast majority of classes remain in person and where we can continue to find ways to connect as a community.
However, as the very first paragraph of the playbook notes, we are monitoring developments with respect to Omicron and will be ready to make changes should they be necessary. We’ve demonstrated tremendous resilience and resolve over what is now nearly two years in confronting the pandemic. 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.
We will begin updating our COVID-19 data dashboard again in early January, so that we continue to provide timely information about the health status of our campus and our ongoing efforts to keep our community well.
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. 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.
I want to continue to reinforce the importance of being vaccinated, including receiving, when you are eligible, a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Boosters provide a higher level of defense against this virus, including the Omicron variant. We have made signing up for a booster convenient, easy and free.
All fully vaccinated adults, 18 and older, living or working in Kentucky who are at least six months past their second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or at least two months past their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible to receive a booster. Learn more here.
Go to ukvaccine.org to sign up for an appointment. This sign-up process is the same one we used last academic year for our vaccine clinics.
If you receive your booster from a non-UK provider, please upload proof of your documentation here.
Flu shots also are critically important. Experts expect that the flu will be particularly harsh this season. As such, and as our health care system continues to respond to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to receive your flu shot. You can learn more about locations where flu vaccines are available here.
As you may know, the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing a legal challenge to the Biden Administration's vaccine mandates. The Court will hear the case on Jan. 7 and issue a decision shortly after those arguments are made.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Biden Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is implementing a rule in which employers with 100 or more employees must require COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing for those who have not been vaccinated.
Previously, we have required employees who are coming to the Lexington campus each day or one of our Fayette County locations to either vaccinate or test weekly. The OSHA provision, if ultimately enacted, would require us to extend that to any UK owned or operated location.
We must be prepared to implement the provision, if it stays in place. As a first step, we have asked members of our community in those locations outside of Fayette County to let us know if they have been vaccinated. It’s a simple process. Please upload your vaccine documentation here.
We will continue to monitor this issue and keep our campus informed of any important updates.
Again, I hope you and those you care about have a wonderful and well-deserved break. I look forward to coming together again soon and continuing our progress in advancing the state we serve.
Stay safe and happy holidays.