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

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.