We’re officially two weeks into the fall semester here in Lexington.
While other prominent institutions such as North Carolina, Notre Dame and Alabama are riddled with COVID-19 clusters, the University of Kentucky (so far) is holding steady. In-person classes have persisted without hiccups while students and faculty have each done their part to maintain a safe campus.
As we did last week, let’s take a look at the updated COVID-19 testing results:
These numbers are outdated and fairly identical to last week; however, phase II testing began this week and will factor into the school-wide COVID testing data in the next few days, according to the University’s “testing results” page. Checking this link sometime Monday or Tuesday would probably give you a better snapshot of the current situation.
The second phase of the University’s “playbook” re-tested the 5,500 students apart of Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) following a 3% positivity rate in tests from FSL students compared to the campus-wide 1% rate during phase I testing.
At the juncture of Woodland Glen 1 and the William T. Young back lawn, FSL students filtered through all week to take their second COVID test. Being that these 5,500 make up the majority of students who have been re-tested, a low positivity rate will be crucial to keeping campus open.
Since the start of the pandemic, the University of North Carolina, whose on-campus classes have been moved online, have a 19% positive testing rate and reported nearly 1,000 total cases among students. Another school under fire for its high volume of positive tests, the University of Alabama, has also seen over 1,000 students test positive for the virus since arriving back on campus. As listed, Kentucky has just 250 positive tests ahead of the phase II returns. It is vital that the number of cases and the positivity rate from phase II remains much lower than either of those two schools in order to keep campus open.
Most of the blame for the universities across the country who have closed has fallen on the students. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment, especially not at Alabama, where 166 faculty members have tested positive for COVID-19 in addition to the 1,000+ students. If we’re going to point to off-campus parties and 20-year-olds’ ignorance towards a national health crisis as reasons campuses need to be shut down, why are the faculty also testing positive in large numbers? (UNC reported 54 faculty members tested positive).
Alabama’s president, Stuart Bell, even said, “our challenge is not the students,” claiming the virus was the real threat.
“It’s not the students, OK. It’s how do we have protocols so that we make it to where our students can be successful, and we can minimize the impact of the virus.”
College students are going to behave like college students; planning as if they would sit lonely in their dorms and Zoom through an entire semester of college is unreasonable. Sure, students should make certain social sacrifices but realistically some of us are going to break the rules like they’re bubble wrap.
From what we can tell based on the updated University of Kentucky testing numbers, Kentucky is on the safer side; A small spike and a reasonable number of cases, but not the widespread pandemonium like in Tuscaloosa or Chapel Hill. Our student positivity rate sits pretty low and only five faculty members have tested positive, compared to ten and twenty times as much at Alabama and North Carolina. To me, high student and faculty positivity rates are a poor reflection of the whole school, and primarily the administrations, not just the students, who seemingly shoulder the majority of the blame.
Kentucky students may be more conscientious of the virus and may wear masks more often, but I also think the administration has executed a carefully-thought-out plan to keep students safe where other schools were less organized.
Until we get another update on the phase II testing and potential phase III testing plan, continue to wear your masks and operate safely on campus, everyone!