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Fall Quarter Testing

To help us start the new academic year as safely as possible, we are implementing a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan. All testing conducted as part of the plan outlined below will be free to students.

In partnership with Northwestern Medicine, we have established a three-step testing process for undergraduate students, all of which will be at no cost to you.  

Please note that these testing protocols are being amended in light of the updated return to campus plan for undergraduates, announced 8/28.

Step 1: At-Home Testing

August 18 - September 6

Consent to and Order the Test

Students will consent online and release forms for taking the test. This includes the use and disclosure of the results for our COVID-19-testing processes. By granting your consent, the test results will be shared with Northwestern and with you. Neither we, nor the testing companies, will disclose the testing information or your results to third parties other than the University, service providers helping run the COVID-19-testing program, and possibly governmental authorities and third parties to the extent required or permitted (including for contact tracing purposes) by law. Your parents and guardians will also not receive the testing information or results. Note: in order to complete the consent forms, you will need your NetID. If you have not registered and activated your NetID as instructed in previous emails, please do that now.

Without completing this consent form, students will not move forward in the process and be able to complete an at-home test.

If they have completed the consent form, on August 20, students will receive an email from Picture Genetics with instructions for ordering an at-home testing kit. The email will come from; please ensure this doesn’t end up in your spam folder. Students need to follow the directions outlined as soon as possible in order to receive the test in a timely manner. 

Students will be able to receive a test-kit at their current location, as long as it is in the United States. Please note, due to certain restrictions and limitations, these tests cannot be sent to international locations or to students under the age of 18. International undergraduate students returning to campus or the Evanston area and those under the age of 18 are exempted from this requirement but encouraged to seek out their own tests prior to returning for Wildcat Wellness. They will also participate in Steps 2 and 3 of testing. 

Complete and Return the Test

Students will receive the test kits about two days after they submit their order.

Students will complete and mail the tests in a prepaid envelope via FedEx. A two-minute video from Picture Genetics can provide guidance on how to collect the specimen.  

There are some important things to know when completing your test:

  • You should complete the test ASAP, but no later than August 27 or the test results will be invalid due to extended shipping windows over the weekend preventing the specimen from arriving at the lab in time.
  • If you are not able to complete your test by August 27, you will need to wait to the following Monday (August 31) to take your test and send it back to Picture Genetics.
  • You should try to take your test in the morning (before 10am) and return it to the lab as quickly as possible to ensure the best chance of accurate processing.

Testing Results

You will receive the results 2-4 days after you ship the package. Northwestern will also receive your results through the company, and you do not need to take additional action to send us your results, and we will only share that information as outlined in the consent and release forms noted above.

  • If negative, students can move on to Step 2.
  • If positive, students will be instructed to self-isolate following the CDC guidance before returning to campus.

Step 2: On-Campus Testing during Wildcat Wellness

September 6 - 20

Students arrive on campus or in the Evanston area for the Wildcat Wellness period of modified quarantine.  During this time they will be tested at the Northwestern testing facility, located at the Jacobs Center in Evanston.
  • Students living in on-campus housing will be tested the day of their arrival.
  • Students living off-campus will have the ability to schedule their test on-campus.

Step 3: Ongoing Testing Throughout Fall Quarter

September 21 - November 26

All undergraduate students approved to be on campus for the Fall Quarter will be tested weekly. This includes those approved to live in the residence halls, first and second year approved academic exceptions, and juniors or seniors planning to access campus. Undergraduate students needing to book their weekly test can do so online.

Students not complying with the weekly testing requirement will have their Wildcards deactivated and will not be allowed on campus.

 Students who have symptoms should call the Northwestern COVID-19 case management team at 847-491-8422. You will be instructed to self-isolate and to contact NUHS to schedule an appointment.

All students who plan to come to campus, for classes or other purposes, must receive a negative test in conjunction with the start of the Fall Quarter, even if they have been on campus over the summer, unless otherwise instructed by their program.

We encourage all students who plan to come to campus this fall to self-isolate at home for two weeks before returning to campus to improve your chances of staying healthy and returning to campus on schedule.

Initial Testing On Campus

The initial testing process falls during Wildcat Wellness, a two-week period of modified quarantine from September 6-20 that all students living on or near the Evanston and Chicago campuses are expected to follow, unless their academic program started before September 1 or they have been on-campus for research purposes. Off-campus students should not be on campus before or during this period, with the exception of their testing appointment, or to continue courses that were already underway.

Schedule Testing

Testing for graduate students will be available by appointment on both our Evanston and Chicago campuses. 

Appointments will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, with a fixed number of appointment windows each day. Students must show their Wildcard and know their NetID to complete on-site registration and proceed through the testing process. Book your testing appointment online.

Testing Dates

  • Initial testing for Evanston-based graduate students will take place Aug. 26 to Sept. 5 at the Jacobs Center (2001 Sheridan Rd). 
  • Initial testing for Chicago-based graduate students will take place Aug. 27 to Sept. 5 in the lobby of 345 E. Superior St.

For graduate students arriving to campus after the initial testing period, additional appointments will be available Sept. 15-18 on the Evanston campus and Sept. 15-17 on the Chicago campus. 

Testing Results

Students who test positive will be instructed to self-isolate at home following CDC guidelines.

Ongoing Testing Throughout Fall Quarter

Periodic testing of students will continue through the remainder of Fall Quarter. This testing will be a combination of random sample testing and testing focused on populations of students deemed higher risk given the elements of their specific program. These details will be finalized as we have a better understanding of which students plan to be on-campus during the Fall Quarter.

Students who have symptoms should call the Northwestern COVID-19 case management team at 847-491-8422. You will be instructed to self-isolate and to contact NUHS to schedule an appointment.

Please note that only asymptomatic individuals will be tested at Jacobs Center and 345 E. Superior St. If you arrive to be tested at either location and are symptomatic, you will be immediately directed to the appropriate facility.

Testing for Symptomatic Faculty and Staff

Any faculty or staff members who demonstrate symptoms should contact the NU COVID-19 Case Management Team at 847-491-8422. If you are on campus when your symptoms develop, you will be directed to one of the Northwestern Medicine sites for testing. If your symptoms develop while at home, contact your primary care physician to arrange for testing and medical follow-up.

Testing for Asymptomatic Faculty and Staff

Periodic testing of faculty and staff also will be conducted on campus throughout Fall Quarter. Some of that testing will be on a random sampling basis, and some will be focused on certain faculty and staff in higher risk positions or those who pose a higher risk to others based on the nature of the role while on campus. The testing of asymptomatic faculty and staff will primarily begin following the completion of the arrival testing for students. More information on this process will be sent in the coming weeks.

Testing Results

Any member of the community who receives a positive test at any point will be instructed to self-isolate following the CDC guidance.