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University of Kentucky latest update on spring semester amid COVID-19

spring semester The Wildcat Sculpture in Front of Memorial Coliseum on the campus of the University of Kentucky
Bowman, the Wildcat Sculpture in Front of Memorial Coliseum | Austin Johnson/DG

The University of Kentucky Administration has released a statement for COVID-19 updates for UK’s campus:


Members of our Campus Community,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is an unprecedented public health challenge; one that changes shape and direction by the day, and sometimes by the hour. The trajectory of this virus will continue to climb for a period of time.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto on Tuesday, March 17, announced that UK will move to online or alternative formats for classroom instruction for the rest of the semester in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Last week, Capilouto announced that UK would move to online instruction for the two weeks following this week’s Spring Break, March 23 through April 3.

spring semester The Wildcat Sculpture in Front of Memorial Coliseum on the campus of the University of Kentucky
Bowman, the Wildcat Sculpture in Front of Memorial Coliseum | Austin Johnson/DG

But in a campuswide email Tuesday, Capilouto wrote that he was making a series of moves — including moving to online learning for the rest of the semester — in response to the quickly evolving nature and spread of the virus, continued direction from federal health officials and Gov. Andy Beshear, and the need to build capacity at UK HealthCare to handle expected increases in numbers of patients who have contracted the virus.

“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to stem the tide of this disease. It requires us to make significant changes to honor our most important principles: protecting the health, safety, and well-being of everyone in our community; and enabling our students, faculty, and staff to succeed,” Capilouto wrote. “Based on the advice of health experts, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and directives from Governor Andy Beshear, we are moving quickly and changing direction to be responsive to the needs of everyone in our community.”

Students: instruction and learning, housing and dining refunds
  • Instruction will move to online or other alternative learning formats, effective March 23 through the end of the Spring 2020 semester (previously, we had announced using such formats through April 3).
  • We will be communicating soon with faculty, students, and their families about how we can support them as we transition to online instruction for the remainder of this semester.
  • Students should make plans to return to their residences away from campus to continue their studies remotely through the end of the semester. No later than Thursday, March 19, we will communicate details for moving out of the residence hall.
  • We are requiring students to return to their homes unless they receive approval to remain on campus.
  • We also are developing a process for refunds for housing and dining. We will develop and implement that process and communicate the details soon.


Faculty and staff work options
  • My expectation is that supervisors and department chairs will provide maximum flexibility to our employees who need to work remotely in the short-term and in the weeks to come so they can manage personal, family, and health needs in response to the spread of the virus and the closures of schools and businesses across the Commonwealth. We will be especially attentive to our employees who are at-risk and our employees who care for family members at-risk.
  • Supervisors and department chairs need to determine who must remain on campus beginning Wednesday (March 18) and through the rest of this Spring Break week in order to ensure the function of critical operations such as: public safety, utilities, business operations, academic and IT support for online learning, vital research functions, and support for our students who remain on campus. Our expectation is that all other non-UK HealthCare employees will work from home for the rest of this week. For those who must remain on campus, we intend to build special support services and make our work environment even safer.
  • We will communicate regularly throughout this week and beyond about how we manage the rest of the semester and the critical work we must do. We are developing a plan for the operation of the campus that is equally sensitive to the needs of our students and the health and well-being of our staff and faculty. For many, remote work will continue after this week. Others will be reporting to campus continuously or on an ad hoc basis to support basic operations.
We are committed to our employees. For all of us, this new environment will require a thoughtful approach to how we address inevitable questions and concerns around important issues such as pay and benefits. Out of the necessity of the moment, we will need to be innovative and supportive in finding ways for people to continue to work. We will do so with full understanding of how precious pay and benefits are to the emotional, psychological, social, and physical wellness of our people and those closest to them.
  • As both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Governor have advised, group meetings and events will be canceled or postponed until the end of the semester.
  • We are postponing Commencement to ensure the safety of our students and their families; and our staff and faculty who participate. There will be a Commencement to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our Spring 2020 graduating class; and we will schedule it for a time when we are able to do so in a healthy and safe environment. We will communicate as soon as possible about next steps to ensure everyone involved can make travel plans.
  • This does not change the semester completion date for our students, nor does it affect the timeline for students earning their degrees. We are only postponing the graduation ceremony and public celebration.

The University of Kentucky is a resilient community; and we will work together with compassion, patience, and determination to lift us, and our Commonwealth, out of this anxious time.

Thank you for all you do to make our University of, for, and with Kentucky.

As always, please consult with our special website for the latest information about our response to this health challenge: https://www.uky.edu/coronavirus/.

Eli Capilouto



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