KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University will be starting the semester and the new year with a change to how those on campus are protected against COVID-19’s newest variants.

Beginning Jan. 17, Western’s definition of being “fully vaccinated against COVID” will include a booster shot. This means students, faculty and staff have until then to get their booster shot or be required to undergo regular testing.

University President Edward Montgomery explains the decision came from the school’s COVID-19 task force, which is consistently looking at local conditions and guidelines from both the state and federal agencies.

“The onset and growth of omicron, and the recommendations from the CDC and the other levels of government for the booster would make it prudent for us to take that step as well and add that layer of protection,” Montgomery said. “We’re continually looking at our safety protocols to make sure that we are doing as much as we possibly can to limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.”

More than 81% of students and staff are fully vaccinated. Montgomery is confident this addition to the university’s protocol helps keep its positivity rate below 3%, as it has been.

“This adds another layer we’re adding in response to changes in the nature of COVID-19,” Montgomery said.

This change does not affect those who chose to test regularly instead of getting the vaccine. Testing for staff members already in the university’s said protocol continued this week, while students required to do so will start theirs this coming Monday.

*Correction: A previous version of this article said that 81% of students and staff have received at least one dose instead of are fully vaccinated. We regret the error, which has been fixed.