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Update on Group Gatherings and Recreational Facilities

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

We would like to thank you for how you and the entire Northwestern community have come together over the past 24 hours, since we announced the extension of Spring Break and the move to remote classes. We are proud of the way the entire University has united to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Our work is far from done. Today we are taking several additional steps to help ensure the health and well-being of our community – and the greater community beyond Northwestern.

Starting immediately, we are halting all group gatherings of 50 people or more that occur in small spaces that do not allow for appropriate social distancing. We also will be suspending access to our recreational facilities starting this evening.

We are enacting these practices because we believe they will help slow the spread of COVID-19. As a global University, part of our mission is to improve our community and contribute to the greater good. By helping limit the spread of COVID-19, we are protecting not just ourselves but those beyond our campus, including those who are more susceptible to the virus, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Gatherings and Final Exams

In addition to prohibiting gatherings over 50 people, we are asking all University offices, meetings, classroom and other scheduled events to ensure there are at least six feet between all participants. Health officials have advised that keeping such space between people can curtail the transmission of COVID-19.

We strongly encourage instructors who can deliver their finals remotely or as take-home tests to do so. You can find resources about remote and online exams on the University’s Digital Learning website. Students are not required to attend in-person exams. Faculty and students will receive more information about the options for completing their Winter Quarter exams. 

Recreational Facilities

Similarly, we hope that closing our recreational facilities can help us contain the spread of the virus. Northwestern will suspend operations and programming at all University recreation facilities beginning tonight (Friday, March 13) at 6 p.m. This includes all open recreation, competitive sports, group exercise classes, personal training, aquatics programming and wellness suite services at Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, Norris Aquatics Center, Combe Indoor Tennis Center, Blomquist Gymnasium and the Sailing Center.

Community members who need to retrieve personal items from Henry Crown Sports Pavilion or Norris Aquatics Center can do so Saturday, March 14, between 8 a.m. and noon. If you have any questions related to membership or programming, please contact

In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to send you emails with updates and answers to your questions. Northwestern’s COVID-19 website is the best source of information about the impact of the virus on our University community and provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

In addition, we have assembled a University team to field questions you have that are not addressed by the above-mentioned FAQs. Please email or call 847-467-4111. Although our team might not have immediate answers, they will work to find them for you.

Thank you for helping and supporting each other as we navigate these uncharted waters together.


Jonathan Holloway
Provost and Professor

Craig Johnson
Senior Vice President for Business and Finance

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

James J. Phillips
Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation