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January Wildcat Wellness

Modified Quarantine for Students

Northwestern will observe a Wildcat Wellness modified quarantine period for the first two weeks of January, during which all classes and co-curricular activities will shift to remote modality to stabilize campus health before the start of in-person activity. The Wildcat Wellness period will allow students to settle back into campus and participate in testing, so the University can identify and address positive cases to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The January Wellness period will begin Jan. 1 and in-person classes and co-curricular activities will resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Students are welcome to return to campus as planned during this period. Students are expected to arrive in time to complete all testing requirements, including two in-person tests, prior to the start of in-person classes. All Northwestern undergraduate and graduate students who intend to be or will be in the vicinity of campus—including those living in on-campus residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, and off-campus residences—must participate in Wildcat Wellness. Limited exceptions to this expectation are outlined below.

Wildcat Wellness Overview

During Wildcat Wellness:

  • Classes: All classes will shift to remote modality during Wildcat Wellness and revert to their designated modality when it concludes. The majority of courses will meet in person following Wildcat Wellness. Students will be expected to attend in person.
  • Activities: All activities, except for the narrow set of “approved activities” outlined below also will shift to remote modality or be rescheduled.
  • Arrival Testing: All students, regardless of vaccination status, should complete and report results of at-home COVID-19 tests taken 36 hours before travel to campus and again upon arrival.
  • On-campus testing: Students who are on campus must complete two in-person tests at campus testing centers during Wildcat Wellness—one per week.
  • Isolation: Students living on campus who test positive will isolate in designated campus space. Students living off campus will isolate in their residences. Should on-campus positive cases outnumber available isolation rooms, students living on campus may be asked to isolate in place.
  • Dining: All on-campus dining, including in residence halls and retail locations, will shift to grab-and-go service only or close. (MOD and Starbucks in Norris will remain open for takeaway with reduced hours; all other retail locations will close).
  • Exceptions: A narrow set of exceptions for students in programs with distinct requirements or calendars is outlined below along with a discrete list of activities that can continue in person, such as laboratory research.
  • Implications for faculty and staff: Campus will remain open to all employees during this time. Those whose duties require them to be on campus should work in person. Managers may offer additional flexibility for remote work if it meets operational needs during this time. Individuals should consult with their managers about their school or unit’s approach to onsite work during this time. Faculty and staff are encouraged to avoid large indoor social gatherings and conduct meetings remotely.

The plan is to start in-person classes and activities on Jan. 18, provided that health conditions on campus permit this transition. It is possible that the modified quarantine period could extend beyond Jan. 18 or could be reinstated at any point in the term if conditions require such measures to protect the campus community. 

Wildcat Wellness Expectations

Goals of Wildcat Wellness

The goals of Wildcat Wellness are to:

  • Stabilize campus health before the start of in-person activity, particularly after the holidays and travel;
  • Create a window for students to test and for the University to identify and isolate anyone who is positive;
  • Take proactive steps that will allow the campus community to resume in-person activities as soon as possible and create the best possible conditions for a healthy, in-person remainder of the term.

COVID-19 Testing

Students with symptoms of COVID-19 should delay their return to campus. When students return, they must follow the testing protocol outlined below.

At-home arrival tests: All students, regardless of vaccination status or the presence of symptoms, should take and submit the results of at-home COVID-19 tests taken 36 hours before returning to campus and again upon arrival. Tests will be available in Norris University Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 2, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 3 through Jan. 7. Students living in residence halls will have tests available in their rooms when they return. To submit test results, click on “Report COVID-19 Test Results” at the link provided and follow the prompts.

In-person tests: All graduate and undergraduate students who are registered for in-person classes are required to take one in-person, on-campus COVID-19 test each week of Wildcat Wellness, which runs from Jan. 1 through 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18. All students taking in-person classes during Winter Quarter must arrive early enough to complete their first-week testing requirement—no later than Friday, Jan. 7. A second in-person, on-campus test is required during the second week of Wildcat Wellness. Students who do not complete these testing requirements will be referred to the Office of Community Standards for non-compliance. Based on feedback from students and parents, we expect fewer students to need testing on Jan. 2, so the Jacobs Center will no longer be open that day. The Evanston and Chicago testing centers will offer extended hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Jan. 3 through Jan. 14. Students also are encouraged to regularly complete at-home tests during the Wildcat Wellness period as an additional measure of safety.

Allowed Activities

During Wildcat Wellness, students must avoid in-person activities and participation in large groups but may leave their residences for the following essential activities:

  • Health and safety tasks, including activities essential to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets).
  • Meals can be retrieved and consumed in students’ residences during the Wellness period. Campus dining centers will serving grab-and-go hot meals, but students must return to their rooms to eat and should not eat with others outside of their roommates. Off-campus students must eat in their place of residence –in-person dining in residence hall common areas or restaurants is not permitted. 
  • Obtaining services and supplies for themselves and their household members, such as groceries and food, household products, supplies they need to work from home, textbooks, and banking.
  • Academic preparations, including required testing, performance practice connected to an academic program, picking up textbooks, and accessing essential materials at the libraries.
  • Work that cannot be performed remotely, including on-campus and off-campus jobs. Students who can work remotely are encouraged to make arrangements to do so during the Wellness period. Those who have jobs that cannot transition to remote are permitted to work.
  • Engaging in outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, running, and biking.
  • Religious observance such as attending services or other religious events or gatherings.

Exceptions to Wildcat Wellness

The only approved exceptions to Wildcat Wellness are for students in programs with distinct requirements or calendars, eligible student athletes and music performance students, or for the specific activities outlined below, including laboratory research.

  • Pritzker School of Law students should look for communication from their school for details on the start of their semester.
  • Feinberg School of Medicine students will follow school-based protocols for the start of the term.
  • Research laboratories will remain open while continuing to observe health and safety protocols.
  • Students participating in for-credit, off-campus experiential learning programs, e.g., practica, internships or field placements may do so during the Wellness period.
  • Some athletes and music performance students will observe a modified form of Wildcat Wellness to allow for conditioning and in some cases practice or competition (in the case of athletes) with safety precautions in place. Teams will be provided a schedule of allowed activities that is modified based on the team’s competition schedule and degree of required contact. Music performance students may rehearse individually on campus if necessary.

Community Behaviors

It is critical that we each take responsibility for maintaining the health of our community. All members of the Northwestern community must to continue to be diligent about protecting their health and the health of those around them by wearing masks, limiting gatherings, testing and monitoring for health symptoms and reporting symptoms or positivity to the University.