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Health Monitoring

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of exposure, community members are expected to regularly monitor their personal health status. Community members should not come to the campus if they are showing symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing).

Given the dimensions and locations of our campuses, the University does not currently plan to centrally track the health status or daily temperatures of employees or students. Some units with unique risks associated with their operations may establish more stringent access controls, including, but not limited to, daily temperature checks and health status questionnaires prior to reporting to work.


A wide range of symptoms have been reported in people with COVID-19, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat and/or
  • New loss of taste or smell

It is important to monitor your health every day. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should not go to campus until your symptoms pass.


Due to the limited availability of tests, Northwestern is still developing a process to offer testing resources on campus. If you suspect you are in need of a COVID-19 test, or are instructed to do so, see area testing options


Self-isolation means staying in your home — not going to work, classes, athletic events or other social gatherings — for 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider, whichever comes first. During this period, individuals should limit contact as much as possible, maintaining six feet of social distance from other individuals — including other residents of your home — at all times.

Individuals are expected to self-isolate if they are in non-incidental direct contact with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or if they have fever or symptoms consistent with any respiratory infection. Staff and faculty are empowered to equitably enforce policies that support protecting the health of the broader Northwestern community.

If you have had direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or are being tested after a suspected exposure to COVID-19, you are expected to self-isolate.

If you are worried you may have been exposed through contact with a person you suspect may have been exposed to COVID-19, it would be prudent to self-isolate until a medical provider has determined the significance of the contact. For example, if an employee’s spouse works closely with someone who has tested either positive or is suspected of being positive for COVID-19, the employee is expected to work from home until it is known whether or not an exposure is confirmed, or 14 days have passed, whichever comes first.

For suspected third-degree cases (the situation above, with one further removal), you may make the voluntary decision to self-isolate for 14 days by working from home or use personal time as described above.

Per CDC guidelines, self-isolation also is required for all individuals who have traveled abroad. 

Reporting a Positive COVID-19 Diagnosis or Self-Isolation

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you choose to self-isolate based on guidelines outlined above, you are required to notify the University, following guidelines outlined in the University’s Return to Campus Policy.  

Contact Tracing

If you test positive for COVID-19 and when you provide notice of the diagnosis, please provide a list of any members of the Northwestern community that you recall being in direct contact with and close proximity to during the last 14 days.

Returning to Campus

Prior to returning to campus, faculty and staff will receive an email to complete a Return to Work Self-Certification (COVID-19). Employees can either obtain medical documentation from their health care provider to return to work, or use CDC guidelines to discontinue isolation, which includes:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared