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About COVID-19

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. For this reason, social distancing is critically important. 

As a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help inhibit the spread of respiratory viruses, including: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • ​Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

Who should seek medical attention?

Please visit this website for more information from the CDC.

Patients with fever and/or acute respiratory illness, especially those who have had close contact with someone who is getting tested for, or lab-confirmed with, COVID-19 should seek medical attention.

You should call ahead before going to the doctor or emergency room to describe your symptoms.

University Response and Operations

What is UK doing for the safety and wellness of its community?

The University of Kentucky is continuously communicating updates with campus as a result of this health challenge. View our most recent updates here.

We are fortunate to have a nationally ranked academic medical center on our campus, with a highly regarded Division of Infectious Diseases that is working closely with the university on these issues as well.

We also have a workgroup, comprised of campus administrators and health officials, focused on this issue. They have been meeting at least weekly since January to monitor the issue, formulate responses and determine next steps. View more information on the workgroup here. 

Will university facilities be extensively cleaned?

UK's Facilities Management employees regularly keep our community safe and healthy by cleaning campus buildings. However, given the scope of the COVID-19 situation, our Facilities Management staff will conduct an extensive, deep cleaning of all campus facilities. We will continue to enhance our regular protocols over the next several months to ensure our campus is as sanitary and safe as possible.

Although transmission of coronavirus appears to occur much more commonly through person to person contact than through surface contamination, additional cleaning measures have been implemented for the university. Housekeeping/custodial groups will be cleaning high touch surfaces in common areas such as door knobs, light switches, elevator buttons and handrails. Cleaning of high touch surfaces in labs, offices and other similar areas that will not be cleaned by housekeeping can be cleaned by individuals following  CDC Interim Recommendations. CDC references the EPA's approved disinfectants list. 

Who is responsible for cleaning classrooms between use?

All classrooms will be equipped and replenished with a supply of sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer for students, faculty and staff to utilize as needed. Facilities Management is developing a cleaning plan to sanitize classroom spaces and keep buildings as clean as possible.

How have mailing services on campus been impacted?

UK's mailing services will be operating on its normal delivery schedule. Departments will be able to send out mail as usual using the mail meter cards. Our vendor (United Mail) is operating on a normal schedule and will be making daily pickups as normal. 

How can I help fight bias and discrimination on UK's campus?

As we work together to keep our campus healthy and safe, we should remember that cultural differences can impact the ways in which members of our community respond to this challenge. For example, some of our community members from different cultures—including some of our international students—choose to wear masks as a sign of respect for the health of others as well as a precaution regarding their own health. We should respect cultural difference, not denigrate it. Someone’s country of origin has nothing to do with his or her level of risk in contracting the virus. Let’s be sensitive to our surroundings and celebrate our differences, remembering that diversity and inclusion are at the heart of who we are as a community.

Please feel free to consider filing a report with UK’s Bias Incident Support Services. Also, ISSS staff are here to help international students and scholars navigate how to respond or cope with incidents of bias. Please call 859-323-2121 or email

If you have experienced discrimination or harassment on the basis of a protected class, believe you have not been provided a reasonable accommodation, or have experienced sexual misconduct, please contact UK’s Office for Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity at 859-257-8927 or make a report here.

What new travel policies have been implemented?

All university-sponsored or endorsed international travel is suspended indefinitely, both for students and employees. There is an appeals process.

Due to the U.S. Department of State's travel advisory and UK's suspension on international travel, UK Education Abroad & Exchanges (EA) is not offering summer 2020 education abroad programs. Students who planned to participate in a summer education abroad program have been contacted by EA with this decision and further updates.

All university-sponsored or endorsed domestic travel is strongly discouraged.

What are some factors the university would consider in case of having to close campus?

Several factors would inform that process. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to PPE
  • Ability to perform daily screenings and contact tracing capabilities for students, faculty and staff
  • Ability to provide a residential experience—housing, dining, student center, classrooms, outdoor spaces and other related facilities and student services
  • Positivity rate in the campus, local or regional area
  • On-campus hospital impacts—bed capacity, ICU beds, etc.
  • Local, regional, state, and or federal guidance from public health authorities, governmental leaders and or CDC. We work closely with the state on guidance and directives that policymakers provide with respect to health and safety.

Health and Safety Measures

Will masks be provided?

Students received a wellness kit with appropriate information, instructions and PPE during move-in. Students living off-campus received wellness kits at their testing locations or at on-campus wellness huts. 

Employees received PPE through their respective supervisors and departments.

What kind of face mask or covering should I wear?

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants). Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Read more.

How do I safely put on and remove a face mask?

Watch this video for instructions on how to safely put on and remove your face mask.

What if wearing a mask poses a serious health concern?

If you are concerned about wearing a mask due to a health condition, please contact the ADA coordinator at (859) 257-8927.

Who is responsible for cleaning my work environment?

UK Facilities Management continues to provide routine building cleaning and deep cleaning as required based on potential exposures. In addition to these efforts, the Kentucky Healthy at Work requirements suggest employees clean high-touch surfaces and objects routinely, using disinfectant wipes twice daily. Examples of frequently touched items include:

  • Tables
  • Copiers
  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Countertops
  • Handles
  • Desks 
  • Phones
  • Keyboards and computer mouse
  • Touch screens 

What should I do if I see or know someone who isn't complying?

To keep our Cats accountable, we ask that you first assume the best in your fellow student or colleague. Like you, they may still be working to build the habit of meeting all health and safety protocols (such as forgetting to put on a mask). If that's the case, direct them to a wellness station or front desk for a disposable mask or kindly ask them to put some distance between you and them.

If you feel the situation puts you or others in imminent risk, please contact the Office of Student Conduct. If the office receives a report regarding someone who fails to maintain proper physical distance from others when in public, a conduct officer will schedule a meeting with the student in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct and/or University Housing Community Standards.

Faculty members and instructors are responsible for classroom management. Instructors are encouraged to put language in the syllabi regarding healthy behavior, and are allowed to deny students who are not wearing a mask access to class. Faculty should also refer students who are failing to comply with healthy behaviors to the Office of Student Conduct.

What will happen to members of the community if they don't comply?

A series of follow-up communication will be triggered when a student fails to conduct the daily screening or if the student has not received a test by the Aug. 22 deadline. From there, a case manager will follow up via phone. Each day presents a new opportunity to complete the required daily screening. If there is prolonged non-compliance, a student will receive a follow-up from the Office of Student Conduct or Center for Support and Intervention.

As with other university policies and procedures, HR Employee Relations can help supervisors with coaching conversations and, if necessary, corrective action with staff to encourage compliance with healthy behavior requirements for on-site work. The Office of Faculty Advancement can assist with these conversations with faculty.

Will there be a central place we can check to see if anyone on campus has been infected with COVID-19 and where they work?

Due to health information privacy laws, we will not be providing names or locations of individuals who may test positive for COVID to the broader campus community. We will take steps to notify the individuals who may have been in contact with that employee after consultation with the employee and public health officials.

You can view a report of positive cases and the most recent positivity rate here.

Is UK implementing any kind of checkpoint or daily/weekly pass system to ensure campus safety?

The university will not be holding checkpoints or using a pass system for daily screening.