COVID-19 testing required of unvaccinated Broncos

Dear WMU community,

 We’re looking forward to the launch of a successful 2021-22 academic year in a safe campus environment. To that end, today I'm announcing a major update to the University's COVID-19 protocols. 

From the beginning, we have consistently monitored public health recommendations and the course of the pandemic to inform our adaptive, multifaceted response. Thanks to these measures and the contribution of each member of our community, we have been fortunate to avoid major outbreaks, enabling us to carry out our educational mission uninterrupted. Wearing masks and voluntary surveillance testing, including at mass testing events, are two of the many safeguards that have proven effective. 

In addition, we know vaccines work: 167 million Americans have now been inoculated against COVID-19. The science is clear that the vaccines are effective at preventing the transmission of COVID-19, that breakthrough infections are rare and, when they occur, hospitalizations and deaths are extremely rare among vaccinated individuals. 

Mandatory COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated individuals

Following CDC guidelines, we recently announced it’s mandatory to wear masks while in indoor spaces. We are now taking an additional step in our protocols to keep our community safe by requiring that all unvaccinated students, faculty and staff be tested on campus at Sindecuse Health Center (SHC) at the start of the fall semester and every week through the end of September. Thereafter, individuals will continue to be subject to regular, mandatory testing at SHC until fully vaccinated. The frequency of testing after Oct. 1 has yet to be determined but could be as frequent as once a week. All testing must be completed at SHC. 

The first round of required testing for unvaccinated students who live on campus will begin the week of Aug. 29. For unvaccinated faculty and staff, and for unvaccinated students who do not live on campus, testing will begin the week of Sept. 5. Students who take classes at regional locations will receive information about the testing plan for their locales. 

Students, faculty and staff have the option to avoid mandatory testing altogether by providing their vaccination record to SHC via the patient portal. Those who provide valid records by Wednesday, Aug 18, can expect to avoid testing by providing SHC time to verify their vaccination. Students with verified vaccination will continue to be eligible for the Vaccine Incentive Scholarship program, consistent with its terms and conditions. Thank you to those who have been vaccinated and uploaded their documents already. 

Individuals are considered fully immunized two weeks after their final shot and their vaccination has been verified through SHC. At that point, testing will no longer be required for the individual. 

For those not yet vaccinated, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. For your convenience, walk-up and drive-up vaccination clinics will be held at SHC on Monday, Aug. 30, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 31, from 1-4 p.m. with no appointment necessary. Participants must present a valid WMU ID. 

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, I anticipate the vast majority of our campus will step up to these measures to keep our community safe. In rare cases of noncompliance, please know that we are committed to this policy and the community should expect a progressive and meaningful disciplinary process. Students who do not comply with the testing protocol will face sanctions administered through the Office of Student Conduct. Noncompliance among faculty and staff will be addressed in accordance with collective bargaining agreements and employee policies. More information about the compliance process will be forthcoming next week along with details about the pre-fall testing event. 

I’m sharing this decision now so that you can take the steps appropriate to your personal situation. 

This campus has more than a year of experience stepping up to the challenge posed by the pandemic and safely managing our community together. I am asking all Broncos to continue to do their part so this successful trend can continue.

Thank you,

Edward Montgomery