Skip to main content

General Testing Questions

See below for answers to common questions about asymptomatic testing. If you need additional help, please contact the appropriate support: 

Are there places I can be tested not affiliated with Northwestern?

The State of Illinois runs drive-through and walk-up testing sites across the state including Harwood Heights, Arlington Heights and Waukegan. No appointment is required but there is limited capacity. See the IDPH website for locations, hours and contact information: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/covid-19-testing-sites

If I get tested at a location other than the Northwestern testing sites, how should I report my results?

Students who test positive for COVID-19 while away from the Evanston/Chicago area, and who are not planning to be on campus in the current academic quarter, do not need to submit their external positive diagnosis to Northwestern. 

If a student plans to return to campus within 90 days of testing positive, we ask that the student submit that test result to Northwestern by uploading your results to the Risk Management site so the student can be appropriately removed from testing requirements when returning to campus.

Who is required to participate in recurring asymptomatic COVID-19 testing?

Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated are required to take two Abbott rapid antigen tests every week. Based on recommendations from Northwestern’s medical experts, these tests must be completed within three days of each other. If the number of days between tests is greater than three, the Symptom Tracker application will display in yellow as a reminder to complete a new test in order to return to green status. This testing will continue to take place at the Jacobs Center (Evanston) or 345 E. Superior (Chicago).

What should I do if my results are positive?

Please visit the If You Test Positive page. 

What should I do if I’m going away or need to pause my testing schedule for any reason?

Email NU-COVID-Testing-Support@northwestern.edu with your reason for pausing your testing schedule, netID, and dates that you are requesting an exception.

 

What happens if my results are invalid or inconclusive?

While an inconclusive result is not indicative of either a positive or negative result, it does not provide you with a definitive result. We ask that you come in to re-test at your earliest convenience.

Do I have to participate in recurring testing if I tested positive for COVID-19 recently and have been cleared to return to campus?

If you have tested positive in the last 90 days, once you have been cleared to return to campus, you do not need to participate in asymptomatic testing. If you tested positive at a Northwestern testing site, there is nothing further you need to do. If you tested positive at an external testing site, please upload your results to the Risk Compliance site.

What should I do if I need an ADA accommodation at the Jacobs Center?

Please enter through our main entrance adjacent to Deering Meadow, and inform a staff member. We can accommodate your testing needs on the first floor.

I am an unvaccinated student and have concerns about getting tested due to a disability and/or a medical condition. Can I request an exception?

Students requesting an exception to required COVID-19 testing on the basis of disability and/or a medical condition should contact Accessible NU and complete the application process.

COVID-19 alone may not be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, due to the fact that the illness in some may be transitory and have limited impact on major life activities in ordinary circumstances. However, students who have significant impacts due to Coronavirus or ongoing medical conditions related to the COVID-19, may be eligible for reasonable accommodations.

I was in Evanston/Chicago and required to be tested weekly, but I have decided to leave the area for the remainder of the quarter. How do I get removed from my testing requirement?

If you are an undergraduate student, you need to send an email to NU-COVID-Testing-Suppport@northwestern.edu and request to be removed from testing requirements. You will need to update your local address and Community Interaction Status in CAESAR to reflect that you are no longer in the area.

If you are a graduate student and you are no longer going to be in the area, you need to update your “Campus Interaction Status” in CAESAR to “Never” and update your local address in CAESAR to reflect that you are no longer in the area.

I was able to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Am I still required to undergo testing?

No. Once you submit your vaccination record on the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement Form, you are no longer required to test.

I am unvaccinated and never tested positive for COVID-19, but I think I had it; or I had a positive COVID-19 antibody test – do I still need to test?

Yes, you need to continue testing. There are many case reports of repeated infections, and some of the newer variants of the disease appears to evade natural antibodies. Because we don’t know how long a prior infection may protect against reinfection, and because many antibody tests are prone to false positives due to detection of other coronaviruses, we ask that you keep testing even if you have a positive antibody test.

Do I need to quarantine if I am domestically or internationally traveling to campus?

No. Northwestern does not require students, faculty, or staff to quarantine after traveling to campus, regardless of their vaccination status.

What is the protocol for unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff traveling domestically or internationally to campus?

Unvaccinated individuals must follow COVID-19 testing and masking protocols upon arrival. If you are unvaccinated and planning to obtain a vaccine to meet Northwestern’s vaccine requirement, please start this process immediately. Until you are fully vaccinated, please continue to follow our heightened protocols for unvaccinated individuals.

Anyone who is not fully vaccinated, regardless of the reason, is required to continue to wear a mask indoors, in alignment with guidance from the public health agencies.

All unvaccinated students must:

  • Complete twice-weekly COVID-19 testing on campus
  • Complete the daily Symptom Tracker application on those days when they are on campus (Based on recommendations from Northwestern’s medical experts, these tests must be completed within three days of each other. If the number of days between tests is greater than three, the Symptom Tracker application will display in yellow as a reminder to complete a new test in order to return to green status.)
  • Wear a mask in all shared indoor settings