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Dear Campus Community,

This week will be pivotal as we move toward safe and reinvented normal operations this fall. To that end, I want to provide you with an update on our progress:

Where we are today: We have posted a status update on our restart plans: https://www.uky.edu/coronavirus/concept-plans.

  • First, the plan makes one thing clear: We plan to return to campus this fall, offering the residential educational experience that distinguishes UK. That restart plan for our academic campus will be the primary focus of our efforts and energies.
  • Second, we are preparing a backup plan – for fully online or remote learning – that would be utilized in the event that COVID-19 spikes in a way that forces changes in federal and state guidance to keep our community safe. 
  • Third, other essential parts of our campus will continue their planning processes, which will be incorporated into the overall UK restart effort. Our START (Screening, Testing and Tracing to Accelerate Restart and Transition) workgroup is continuing to examine how best to plan for testing, contact tracing, and other health prevention efforts. UK HealthCare is several weeks along with its restart process. UK Research has developed a phased restart plan, which is in the review process. And UK Athletics is working on a phased plan in coordination with the campus and the Southeastern Conference. 

Important steps we will take this week: Late last week, my senior team and I reviewed the status report and implementation timeline. 

  • We shared our progress with various campus leadership groups comprised of hundreds of our leaders. And we discussed our timeline with the leaders of 19 workstreams, including some 500 of your colleagues, who are creating operational plans for our restart. 
  • This week, we will seek additional feedback from elected faculty, student and staff leadership. Our partners in the Senate Council and University Senate, for example, will have to approve any changes to the academic calendar, if necessary.
  • On Thursday, we will take their feedback – as well as operational plans from the 19 workstreams – and submit it to our Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC will incorporate the latest into a new status report, which will be posted for your review Friday afternoon, May 29.

How you can provide critical feedback that will improve our plan : I will write to the campus Friday, providing you with a link to the updated status report and a new survey.

  • We will ask for your feedback between Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon, June 1.
  • We will incorporate that feedback into another status update, which we will review next week with my leadership team and our Board of Trustees as members prepare for their meeting later in June.
  • Our final plan will be presented to the campus during the week of June 7.

We have created – and are now implementing – a thoughtful and comprehensive process. That’s because my strong conviction is that a college education, like the one we provide at UK, is the best vaccine against unemployment. The numbers bore that out during the 2008 recession. They are bearing it out today in the midst of this crisis.

But a college education – in the residential campus environment that we provide – is also one of the best vaccinations to ensure a healthier Kentucky and world, a more engaged, humane and just society and one positioned to successfully solve the challenges of the next crisis and those that follow as they inevitably will.

That is why our efforts, now, are so vital to our future and the future of all those we serve. That is who we are. And that is what we do.

Eli Capilouto