UK student calls on school leaders to ease visitor guidelines for residence halls

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - University of Kentucky students living in the residence halls have not been allowed have visitors for most of the 2020-2021 school year.

One student is calling on school leaders, saying it’s time to loosen some of the guidelines.

Freshman Levi Montgomery lives off campus, but said many of his friends living in residence halls didn’t get what they bargained for. He said they signed their housing contracts thinking they would be allowed to have guests shortly after the move-in period.

“They were under the impression that they were going to be able to have visitors over,” Montgomery said.

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton confirmed the university has started a phased approach to relaxing some of its COVID-19 restrictions.

“Students can start to have a visitor in their residence hall room, it’s got to be a UK student, [has to] be someone from on campus, and then in the Greek houses, we’re allowing them to use the common spaces to have some small gatherings, but no one up in rooms or up in private kinds of spaces, and we’re trying to work with students, work with organizations, to help better facilitate events,” Blanton said.

He said this way, the school can ensure the students visiting with each other in the residence halls are following the same testing and safety protocols. Montgomery said if people are vaccinated, they should be allowed to hang out with each other.

“The change in policy doesn’t apply to me even though I am vaccinated, and I have friends that are also vaccinated, and according to the CDC, it’s safe,” Montgomery said.

He said the visitation policy has had an impact on the mental health of students.

“The university is asking people to live in complete total social isolation for the time that they’re living on campus,” Montgomery said. “For many students, it’s five days a week, but for some students, they don’t have the luxury of going home every weekend, and they don’t have any visitors other than their roommates.”

Blanton said the university is staying cautious.

“It is an incredibly delicate balance between doing the things we feel are necessary to promote the health and safety of our students and our entire community, while also balancing that with the fact that we are built as humans to connect with one another,” UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton said.

Montgomery said he doesn’t disagree with all of the university’s policies. He said he thinks many of them stop the spread of COVID-19, but thinks the visitor restrictions have unintended consequences.

Blanton said if cases continue to decline, UK will consider further revising policies regarding visitation and gatherings.

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