By The Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University will encourage but not require COVID-19 vaccinations for students and employees when they return to the western Indiana school for the upcoming academic year.

ISU President Deborah Curtis announced Friday that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandated, although employees and students will be asked to voluntarily submit proof of COVID vaccinations for the 2021-22 academic year.

She said that asking for voluntary proof of vaccination will help the university and the local health department with contact tracing. That information will be kept private, consistent with federal and state privacy laws, the Tribune-Star reported.

ISU needs the vast majority of people on the Terre Haute campus to be vaccinated, Curtis said.

“That is the best way for the Sycamore family to return to normal operations and create a safer learning and working environment," she said.

Starting around July 1, employees will be able to upload proof of vaccination, and for students, it will begin Aug. 1, Curtis said.

Earlier this month, Indiana University modified its COVID-19 vaccination requirement, making it optional that students and employees provide proof of getting the shots. IU's initial mandatory vaccine requirement drew protests from many state officials.