UK emphasizing COVID-19 testing as students return to campus

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – University of Kentucky students are now back on campus.

After navigating the fall semester during this pandemic, UK is going to be implementing a lot of those same measures for the spring semester, which means there’s going to be an emphasis on testing.

“Testing is critical. We’re going to do more of it this semester than we did last semester,” said UK spokesperson Jay Blanton.

All students have to get a COVID-19 test before the end of January so that they can be on campus and university officials say that effort is going well right now.

We’re told 117 positive cases were discovered since the return testing started on January 14 and UK Health testing sites have conducted more than 5,000 tests since the 14th.

UK officials say as the semester goes on wastewater testing will also return as a way of pinpointing student subgroups who could see a rise in the spread of the virus and testing will continue throughout the semester for students.

“We’re going to add a step. We’re going to do what’s called maintenance testing where we’re going to do ongoing testing throughout the semester, required testing of our students,” Blanton said.

Blanton says these steps helped mitigate spread across campus, in addition to masking up and social distancing.

Freshman Michaela Dunlap says she’s happy to be back.

“My mom was really iffy about me going back to school, but I love being here,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap says that her freshman year hasn’t been what she expected, but she hopes it will get better.

“You can’t really get the real experience. You can’t really make friends the right way because you have a lot of online classes, but for the most part, I think the school is doing a good job,” Dunlap said.

Blanton says that this semester could be another challenging one, especially for students still finding their footing like Dunlap.

“It’s hard for us because we always stay in our rooms,” Dunlap said. “We like to get out and do things but since so much is online we really don’t find a reason to come outside.”

But with more vaccinations, the hope of normalcy is on the horizon.

“We’ll get close to normalcy with the more people we can vaccinate and then, hopefully, by the fall, we’ll be even ten steps closer to normal,” Blanton said.

If you are a student and you haven’t been tested yet, you have until the end of the month.

There are three sites on campus where you can get tested that’s K-Lair, the Blue Box Theatre, and the Blue Lot at Kroger Field.

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