Dear campus community,
I hope you had a safe and restorative winter recess. As campus offices reopen this week and spring classes begin next Monday, we have been closely monitoring the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant and assessing its impact on our health and safety protocols.
As we begin a new semester and calendar year, we have made important updates to our pandemic-response protocol that add another layer to our multilayered safety strategy and enables us to serve the educational needs of students while keeping everyone’s well-being top of mind:
•As of Monday, Jan. 17, WMU’s definition of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for students, faculty and staff will be updated to require a booster shot. Please be sure to get your booster and update your COVID-19 vaccination records in order to avoid required testing.
•COVID-19 testing resumes this week for employees already in Western’s required testing protocol.
•Testing resumes the week of Jan. 10 for students already required to test.
•As a reminder of what we advised ahead of the holidays, I encourage you to take an at-home COVID-19 test as part of your return activities.
While COVID-19 continues to mutate and develop new variants, health experts have continued to emphasize that multilayered approaches represent the best way to offer protection while allowing us to return to a near normal way of life. Our weekly testing, masking requirements, badging and high vaccination rates—81.45% for the campus community—go a long way toward that goal. Today we are taking an additional step based on the science around the efficacy of boosters and expanding our definition of fully vaccinated to include being boosted for those not wishing to participate in mandatory weekly testing.
Get the COVID-19 booster to avoid mandatory testing
As of Jan. 17, the definition of full vaccination at WMU will include a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Especially as the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus spreads, getting boosted is critical to avoiding serious illness or hospitalization, according to public health experts.
You are eligible to get a booster shot six months after completing your two-dose series if you were originally immunized with the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you can receive a booster two months after your COVID-19 shot.
If you are eligible for a booster shot and do not have your verified booster dose on record by Jan. 17, you will be required to test weekly at the North Kohrman Hall testing center beginning the week of Jan. 24, until you receive your booster dose. If you have questions about your eligibility to receive a booster, contact your health care provider for guidance.
COVID-19 booster shots continue to be readily available through county health departments and pharmacies, including throughout the Kalamazoo area and Southwest Michigan. To find a provider and make an appointment, go to Vaccines.gov.
Once boosted, your next immediate step should be to upload your documentation to the Sindecuse Health Center’s secure patient portal for verification. And if you already have received a booster dose, upload that documentation today. It takes about a week for your documents to be verified as valid by health center staff.
To learn more about Western’s mandatory testing protocol for those without verified vaccination, find details on the COVID-19 website. Avoid the testing protocol by getting the booster shot and uploading your record for verification.
Required COVID-19 testing
For employees currently subject to the COVID-19 testing requirement, testing resumes today, Tuesday, Jan. 4, in room 2258 of North Kohrman Hall. Testing is available this week both today and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please schedule your appointment for testing.
For students already subject to required testing, the protocol restarts with the beginning of spring classes next week. The center will be open to those under the testing mandate Jan. 10 through Jan. 21: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as well as Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Note: No testing on Monday, Jan. 17, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.). Please schedule your appointment for testing.
Beginning Monday, Jan. 24, through spring semester, the testing center will be open Monday and Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as well as Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more on the University’s mandatory testing protocol and for hours of operation, visit wmich.edu/covid-19/testing.