As a handful of smaller colleges in the commonwealth move toward mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, the University of Kentucky is tightening testing requirements for those who are unvaccinated.
UK staff, faculty, and students who haven't received the shot will be required to test weekly starting September 1. It's a change administration officials hope will nudge more in the direction of vaccination, as the school works to reach its current goal of 80% vaccinated on campus. Right now, around 75 percent of students and employees are at least partially vaccinated.
The school anticipates some resistance to the new testing rule, but UK spokesman Jay Blanton says it's necessary to keep everyone safe.
"We live in a world where mandating anything can be divisive and we have to deal with that," he said Friday. "Our goal though is to keep our communities as healthy and safe as possible."
As for requiring the shot, Blanton maintains it's not out of the question.
"We have not taken the idea of mandatory vaccinations off the table, but we think incentives, testing requirements... for our campus at this time, we think that is the best way to encourage people," the spokesman explained.
Highlights from UK:
- Employees should begin signing up for their mandatory testing appointments on August 30.
- Testing will begin September 1.
- Two employee-only testing sites will be opened on campus.
- Employees can be tested during work hours. Workers who are paid hourly will not have to take leave time to test.
- Students will continue testing in the Blue Box Theatre at the Gatton Student Center. Employees can continue testing at this location as well.
- Anyone can continue to test as well at the community site on College Way near Kentucky Proud Park.
- There will be penalties, including disciplinary actions, for non-compliance. Those measures must be "equitable, regardless of whether someone is a faculty, student or staff member."
- Masks continue to be required indoors regardless of vaccination.