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UK to Extend Online for Rest of Semester; Reschedule Commencement

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto on Tuesday 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.

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.”

Specific steps announced Tuesday include:

  • Instruction will move to online or other alternative learning formats, effective March 23 through the end of the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Students are being strongly encouraged to return to their residences away from campus to continue their studies remotely through the end of the semester. UK will communicate by Thursday, March 19, about details for moving out of residence halls. Students will be required to return to their homes unless they receive approval to remain on campus.
  • UK also is developing a process for refunds for housing and dining, which will be communicated in the coming days.
  • Much of the campus will move to remote work or work from home options for the rest of Spring Break.
  • Supervisors and department chairs will be expected to provide maximum flexibility to 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.
  • Some employees who support critical operations — many UK HealthCare employees, employees who support public safety, utilities, support for online learning, vital research functions — will remain on campus. Supervisors are developing plans for how critical support functions will operate. 
  • The expectation is that non-UK HealthCare employees and those in other positions not supporting critical business operations will work from home for the rest of the Spring Break week.
  • UK will be communicating regularly in the coming days and beyond about how work will be managed for the rest of the semester. 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. 
  • Commencement is being postponed and will be rescheduled to ensure the safety of our students and their families as well as staff and faculty who participate. UK will communicate as soon as possible about next steps to ensure everyone involved can make travel plans. 
  • This move does not change the semester completion date for students, nor does it affect the timeline for students earning their degrees.

“We also are moving thoughtfully, understanding that for a large and complex institution such as ours, every action has multiple reactions and ripple effects. This challenge is evolving; and so is our response,” Capilouto wrote to the campus. “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.”

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