LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 17, 2021) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto issued a weekly update to the campus community about the university's response to COVID-19 on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 16. You can read that message below.
The COVID-19 vaccination rate for our campus as of last night was 84.1 percent — an increase of more than 2.5 percentage points over last week.
As we drive to get beyond 85 percent — and toward 90 percent — we are now ready to add additional incentives and other measures to help us make this next push.
After ongoing dialogue and feedback from our elected faculty, staff and students, we are beginning two programs designed to encourage vaccinations among our employees and to ensure ongoing testing for those who choose not to become vaccinated.
It will include drawings on an ongoing basis for prizes such as cash bonuses, extra vacation, free parking and dining, tickets to athletic events and other incentives. We will provide more information regarding terms and conditions and the timing for our first drawings in the next few days.
A similar vaccination incentive program is in place for students and student organizations. You can read more about those programs here.
Those who do not vaccinate (students, faculty and staff) are required to test on a weekly basis. That effort already has begun. UK HealthCare is beginning a similar testing program for its unvaccinated providers and staff.
Today, we are in a position to provide details about the disciplinary measures we will enact when those who are unvaccinated fail to fulfill the testing requirement. These will go into effect next week. You can read more about testing here.
We define a testing period as Monday-Sunday, or seven days. We already are communicating regularly, each week, with those on our campus who are required to test. It’s important to note that the following measures apply to faculty, staff and students coming to the Lexington campus or who work in Fayette County at a UK site, such as Coldstream Research Park. If you believe you are receiving communication about testing requirements in error, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UK HealthCare has a separate vaccination and testing program underway and is implementing a different set of disciplinary measures. If you are subject to those measures, you will be contacted by UK HealthCare. If you are subject to the campus plan regarding testing, you will receiving ongoing communication about that program.
Faculty and staff compliance measures for those in the non-UK HealthCare testing protocol will be implemented starting the week of September 20, 2021.
Regular (full- and part-time) faculty and staff:
- After one testing period of noncompliance, a letter will be sent to the employee, and that employee’s supervisor will be copied.
- After two testing periods of noncompliance, a letter will be placed in the employee’s permanent personnel record, and the supervisor will be copied.
- After three testing periods of noncompliance, employees will become ineligible for the 2 percent merit raise (due to take effect in January 2022) until they become fully vaccinated or until they test consecutively over a four-week period.
- After four testing periods of noncompliance (or beyond), employees will be placed on unpaid administrative leave until fully vaccinated or until they test consecutively over a four-week period.
- For STEPS employees (part-time student employees and staff), similar disciplinary letters will be sent for the first two testing periods of noncompliance. After three testing periods of noncompliance, a STEPS employee can be subject to termination.
- The university defines fully vaccinated as two shots of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines plus 14 days or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine plus 14 days.
- After the first testing period of noncompliance, a hold is placed on the student’s account, which prohibits access to things such as registering for classes.
- After the second testing period of noncompliance, a student is denied future access to athletic events and/or prohibited from social activities.
- After the third testing period of noncompliance, a conduct meeting will be held with the student, which will involve disciplinary holds, including a potential sanction of probation.
- After the fourth testing period noncompliance, another conduct meeting is held. The potential sanction is an interim suspension.
For faculty and staff, we’ve chosen measures that are equitable and fair. They apply to both faculty and staff. They affect a potential percentage of future earnings, rather than a dollar amount of current salary or earnings that would disproportionately impact one group of employees over another.
Further, employees will have the opportunity to recoup the potential loss of a raise by becoming compliant through vaccination and/or consecutive ongoing testing. Students also will have the opportunity to become compliant through vaccination or through resuming testing.
For students, these measures are consistent with our existing COVID-19 policies in the Code of Student Conduct.
Of course, we hope our entire community will comply with these health measures, which are designed with the safety of everyone in mind. To help ensure compliance, though, and to underscore the seriousness of this effort, we believe these disciplinary measures are necessary as well.
That’s what we’ve outlined — meaningful measures to help ensure the health, safety and well-being of our community.
Numbers and Transparency
We will update our COVID-19 Dashboard with our most recent testing numbers later this evening. Beginning next week, you will see a few additional items on our dashboard to even better reflect both our campus’ and health care system’s vaccination rates:
- We will add numbers of vaccinated from UK HealthCare, breaking them down alongside our faculty, staff and student splits, as well as our overall community vaccination percentage.
- UK HealthCare passed its first deadline for vaccinations this week. As expected, we saw a large amount of deadline activity with thousands of uploaded vaccine self-reports. Ensuring that data is loaded, checked and accurate will take a few days.
- We will begin posting these numbers — along with other information on our dashboard — twice a week.
- Finally, we are continuing to refine and calculate the overall population number that is eligible for our vaccination program and/or required to test on a weekly basis, so we are likely to see some fluctuation in the campus total of those required to test.
- For example, several employees and students are classified in our systems in multiple ways (as both a student and employee) but need to be counted only once for purposes of testing or vaccination.
- There also are people who work in colleges — such as a science researcher or a student interning in a lab — who may work in and around clinical health settings as well. We are working with our health care partners to understand and better refine those lists.
- The process of examining those lists, which come to us from multiple sources, de-duplicating them and ensuring their accuracy is complex. It takes time. We will make some changes, periodically, in the numbers we are examining. But we will show those numbers and explain substantive changes as they occur in as transparent a fashion as possible.
These requests around greater communication and transparency are directly responsive to thoughtful and productive discussions earlier this week with the University Senate and over the last few weeks with the Staff Senate and the Student Government Association.
We clearly share the same goals and commitments to health and safety for everyone. And we acknowledge that there is tremendous complexity in implementing any measures, even as we don’t always agree on the same path to reach our goals. But we can disagree without being disagreeable.
We will keep listening, talking with each other and working to do more — and be more — for each other and our community. Thank you for all you do to make such a community possible.