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Return to Campus Plan and Process

The Return to Campus Plan and Process establishes an organized structure that Northwestern will use to ensure alignment of our work, workforce, and workplace in our Return to Campus plans. The process identifies key foundational elements to be addressed locally within each unit and establishes an approval workflow centrally aligning these plans with campus planning and operations. 

Identify a COVID-19 Leader

To assist with this process, each school/VP leadership office will identify a COVID-19 Leader to oversee department plans within their designated school/VP unit.

This person will:

  • Collect and oversee plans within each school or unit's areas of oversight,
  • Be responsible for aligning department and school plans with the established COVID-19 guidelines and best practices,
  • Align and reconcile planned activities with their dean or vice president,
  • Submit plans to the COVID-19 Workgroup for review and approval before departments return to campus, and
  • Coordinate Return to Campus communications within their school or unit.
Please submit your Leader(s) Carrie West at by Thursday, June 9.

Create Return to Campus Plan

Departments will complete the Return to Work Operating Plan, identifying comprehensive plans for:

  • Functions and workforce that can remain remote;
  • Functions and workforce that need to return to campus and define those plans. 

These detailed plans will be used by the COVID-19 Leader to complete the Campus Plan Summary & Checklist.

The COVID-19 Leader will communicate  a process and timeline with each service line to collect this information. To develop this plan, please reference planning Assumptions, Tenets and Best Practices for units.

Approval Process 

  1. Departments submit their Return to Work Operating Plan plans to the designated COVID-19 Leader for review and approval. If the plan is not approved, it is returned to the department for revisions.
  2. The COVID-19 Leader confirms dean/VP approval and alignment with the COVID-19 Planning Guidelines. 
  3. The COVID-19 Leader submits the Return to Campus Plan Summary & Checklist to the COVID-19 Workgroup for each unit. The plan is reviewed for:
    • Alignment with Return to Campus strategy and principles for services/functions that remain remote and those that return to campus.
    • Services and functions occupying physical campus space, including occupancy strategy, building open status and alignment with COVID-19 Occupancy Guidelines.
    If not approved, the plan is returned to the COVID-19 Leader for revisions.
  4. The COVID-19 Workgroup communicates approval of the Return to Work Plan Summary and Checklist and confirms date of return to campus.
  5. The COVID-19 Leader ensures compliance with approved plan upon return and throughout the academic year.