'I knew it was coming': UK students react to another semester with mask mandates

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 19:54:16-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — On the University of Kentucky's campus, students are already settling in for the new school year and reacting to the news that in just a few days they'll have to wear masks again.

"I knew it was coming," said sophomore resident assistant Ruby Jost. "People who are our age and are unvaccinated are being most affected by the delta variant. We're the ones getting sent to the hospitals."

It's an observation all four-year public universities in Kentucky are taking into consideration as cases fueled by the delta variant continue to surge. They are now all requiring masks indoors in all shared spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

"After careful consideration of the CDC's updated guidelines, consultation with public health officials, and the current spike in cases due to the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant, all of Kentucky's public colleges and universities will require face coverings to be worn in all campus buildings, by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals," a statement signed by all presidents of Kentucky's public four-year universities, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the Council on Postsecondary Education read.

While many students on the university's campus appreciate the extra effort, not all students are pleased about the changes. Especially with more than seventy percent of the campus community vaccinated.

"It is frustrating to see to kind of be forced upon everyone and people who may not be in that vulnerable position," said Sophomore Michael Barrett.

The university's goal is to have 80% of the campus community vaccinated. While they're on their way to that number, they feel the more protections the better chance the community has for a near-normal semester.

"Looking at all that looking at the data, looking at what's happening with the virus. We feel like at this particular moment, adding the mask adding mandatory masking for all members of our campus irrespective of their vaccination status is another layer of protection, you can add right now," said University of Kentucky spokesperson Jay Blanton.

The university says enforcement is mainly on the honor system.

"RAs will be called upon as they often are to help enforce the rules, hopefully, in a way that encourages rather than disciplines. But we have an Office of Student Conduct if we need to go that route to remind people in a more disciplinary kind of way about the rules. But you know, we found last year that our students were willing to do what it took to keep the community healthy and safe," said Blanton.

Sporting events are still expected to go on with students in attendance.

Unvaccinated students will have to be tested regularly until they can prove that they're vaccinated.

The university is also considering mandatory vaccinations for faculty and staff.