New push underway for University of Kentucky to implement vaccine mandate
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There’s a new push on the University of Kentucky’s campus for a vaccine mandate.
Some groups have sent in letters to the university, asking for the requirement. Currently, there isn’t a mandate, but UK officials are strongly recommending that students and staff get vaccinated.
Right now, people on campus have two options when it comes to COVID-19 - get vaccinated or get tested on a weekly basis.
Some on campus want COVID-19 vaccines to be mandatory. On Monday, the university senate adopted a resolution urging campus officials to implement the measure.
Last week, more than 2,000 faculty, staff, and students also signed a petition. University spokesperson Jay Blanton says officials are listening to people’s concerns buts notes enforcing a vaccine mandate would bring a lot of challenges.
“Lets be honest, vaccine mandates in our country are a divisive issue. It’s a polarizing issue,” Blanton said. “There are lots of people in our country, there are lots of people on our campus who have different views. Some are for it. Some are against the mandate. Our question is what’s the best way to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Blanton says more than 80 percent of the campus is vaccinated.
Officials believe providing incentives is the best way to encourage others to get the shots. Students’ incentives include game day tickets and gift kids. One student will even have the chance to win a full-ride scholarship. You can find the full list here.
Blanton says the university is finalizing employee incentives.
On UK’s website, the list of prizes includes an extra week of vacation, UK Men’s Basketball season tickets, free parking for a year, a one-time $1,000 bonus, and many others. You can find the full list here.
You can find the full details on testing here.
The university also announced disciplinary measures for unvaccinated people who do not comply with the weekly testing requirement.
Regular (full- and part-time) faculty and staff:
- After one testing period of noncompliance, a letter will be sent to the employee, and that employee’s supervisor will be copied.
- After two testing periods of noncompliance, a letter will be placed in the employee’s permanent personnel record, and the supervisor will be copied.
- After three testing periods of noncompliance, employees will become ineligible for the 2 percent merit raise (due to take effect in January 2022) until they become fully vaccinated or until they test consecutively over a four-week period.
- After four testing periods of noncompliance (or beyond), employees will be placed on unpaid administrative leave until fully vaccinated or until they test consecutively over a four-week period.
- For STEPS employees (part-time student employees and staff), similar disciplinary letters will be sent for the first two testing periods of noncompliance. After three testing periods of noncompliance, a STEPS employee can be subject to termination.
- The university defines fully vaccinated as two shots of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines plus 14 days or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine plus 14 days.
- After the first testing period of noncompliance, a hold is placed on the student’s account, which prohibits access to things such as registering for classes.
- After the second testing period of noncompliance, a student is denied future access to athletic events and/or prohibited from social activities.
- After the third testing period of noncompliance, a conduct meeting will be held with the student, which will involve disciplinary holds, including a potential sanction of probation.
- After the fourth testing period of non-compliance, another conduct meeting is held. The potential sanction is an interim suspension.
“Of course, we hope our entire community will comply with these health measures, which are designed with the safety of everyone in mind. To help ensure compliance, though, and to underscore the seriousness of this effort, we believe these disciplinary measures are necessary as well,” said President Eli Capilouto in a letter to the campus community.
Even though a vaccine mandate is not in place, university officials say that option is not off the table.
Copyright 2021 WKYT. All rights reserved.