Northwestern University has announced plans to relax some COVID-19 rules for faculty and students starting next month.

In messages issued Thursday to staff and students, NU Vice President for Operations Luke Figora said that, with 98% of the campus community currently vaccinated, the school will no longer require — but will strongly recommend — COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff.

Students will still be required to have the primary series of vaccinations and boosters are strongly recommended for them as well.

Northwestern will continue to offer isolation housing for on-campus residential students who test positive for COVID-19. With the approval of individual instructors, students in Isolation Housing who feel well enough can sit for exams proctored in person.

The messages say that as a result of declining demand, the school will drop asymptomatic testing but continue to offer tests on campus for those with symptoms.

On campus students will continue to be required to report positive COVID-19 tests results and observe an isolation period.

Faculty and staff will not be required to report positive test results, but are asked to “stay home and address COVID-19 with your medical provider and supervisor as you would other illnesses that require the use of sick days.”

The memos also say the school will stop reporting weekly positive case numbers after Dec. 22, saying that “experts now focus on hospitalization and severe case data as the primary factors in determining community guidelines.

Figora also says that if conditions change, the school may reinstate stronger restrictions.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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