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Wildcat Wellness

Modified Quarantine for Students

Northwestern is requiring all students living on campus or in the Evanston area to participate in “Wildcat Wellness,” a two-week period that is similar to the previously-issued Illinois “stay at home” order. Between September 6 and 20, all Northwestern students who intend to return to the Evanston campus must follow a modified quarantine before the start of in-person activity. Please note that this is the current draft plan for Wildcat Wellness, which is subject to public health approval and may change.

  • The first three days of classes will be delivered remotely. The in-person components of face-to-face and hybrid classes will begin on September 21.
  • Students are expected to limit social interactions, avoiding any non-roommate or non-family in-person social interactions except as outlined below.
  • Many non-essential campus facilities may have restricted access. Core services, like Health Services, will be open.

This applies to both students living on campus and those living off campus. If you arrive to Evanston after September 9, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon arrival.

Students, faculty and staff participating in Chicago programs must adhere to the city’s Emergency Travel Order. 

Goals of Wildcat Wellness

The goals of Wildcat Wellness are to:

  • Reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19;
  • Help students coming to the Evanston community for the Fall to be better positioned to start the quarter healthy and well;
  • Create a clear and equitable way for our campus community to adhere to CDC and local travel quarantine guidance for the local community;
  • Be a responsible member of our neighboring communities, and
  • Give our students, faculty, and staff the best possible conditions for a successful start to the fall quarter.

Implications for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff are also expected to observe Wildcat Wellness and refrain from scheduling in-person activities except those that are essential or necessary to support students’ return and cannot be delivered remotely. Schools and units should evaluate whether faculty and staff should be on campus or remote and how best to support Wildcat Wellness.


Learn more about what activities are allowed and required during this period. 

Allowed Activities during Wildcat Wellness

Students may leave their residence for essential activities. These include both on and off-campus tasks, such as:

  • Health and safety tasks, including activities essential to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets).
  • 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.
  • Essential academic preparations, including required testing, performance practice connected to an academic program, picking up their Wildcard and textbooks.
  • Engaging in outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, running, and biking.

Students must follow social distance guidelines and wear face coverings while taking part in these activities.

COVID-19 Testing

The Wildcat Wellness weeks also allow for a period of coordinated testing following students’ return to campus. Northwestern continues to refine the testing protocols.  Testing-specific communications will follow as details are finalized.

Community Expectations

It is critical that we each take responsibility for maintaining the health of our community. As a condition of returning to campus, students, faculty and staff are required to follow policies, protocols and guidance designed to protect everyone’s health. All students must:        

Community members who violate these expectations may face disciplinary actions. For students, this could mean a range of responses from a reminder in cases of unintentionally not following guidance to separation from the University in severe cases of repeat offenses of intentionally disregarding expectations.

Specific information about training and community expectations will be emailed to students directly.

Students Who Do Not Need to Participate

The following groups of students, who have adhered to early arrival planning, do not have to participate in Wildcat Wellness:

  • Students in programs that are already underway prior to September 6 will continue in their programming for academic continuity. These students who have returned to campus early have completed their training and attestation.
  • Student athletes who have already returned to Evanston and undergone a testing and quarantine period will be able to continue in-season, team-based activity that follows public health guidelines.
  • Graduate students who are currently in the area and are involved in active research labs may continue to come to the lab in alignment with their approved lab plan.
Students exempted from the Wildcat Wellness program are still asked to support the campus community in a healthy start to the academic year. Exempted students should approach this as a modified stay-at-home period while still:
  • Minimizing social interaction outside of essential activities
  • Limiting exposure to groups larger than 10 (outside of research, varsity sports practice, etc.) 
  • Practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings in all public places.

What to Expect

Wildcat Wellness will change the way students spend their first two weeks at Northwestern.

For Students Living On-Campus

For students living in residence halls and in fraternity and sorority houses, the stay-at-home guidelines should guide your expectations:

  • Residential move-in will begin on September 6th and end on September 9th. If you move in to your housing after September 9, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon your arrival. See in-details on the Residential Services website.
  • Hot meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner) will be available for pick-up each day in dining centers.
  • Virtual programming – both academic and social – will be available.
  • Wildcat Welcome will be delivered virtually.
  • Students can have socially-distanced, conversations using face coverings in shared spaces on their assigned floor.
  • Students should wear face coverings outdoors and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible and should not go to bars or restaurants.

For Students Living Off-Campus

Students living off-campus will be expected to fully participate in Wildcat Wellness.

  • Students should plan to arrive in the area on or before September 9th. If you arrive in Evanston after September 9, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon your arrival.
  • Virtual programming will be offered. No on-campus programming or events will be offered in-person.
  • Essential on-campus services will be available for off-campus students as they are for residential students.
  • Students are expected to follow similar guidelines as students in residence halls. Students can leave their individual living quarters to exercise, buy groceries, or take care of essential functions - just like you might have done during the stay-at-home order.
  • There can be no social events, gatherings, or parties off-campus during this time.
  • Students should wear face coverings outdoors and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible and should not go to bars or restaurants.


Your nutritional health is important, and our Northwestern Dining team is here for you. To maintain the stay-at-home requirement, dining will be done outside of dining halls during Wildcat Wellness.

Dining Locations and Hours

Plans for dining halls are evolving. At this point we expect the following dining halls to be open during Wildcat Wellness:

  • Allison Dining Hall
  • Sargent Dining Hall
  • Foster Walker Dining Hall
  • Elder Dining Hall
  • 1835 Hinman Dining Hall, our dedicated isolation dining headquarters during Wildcat Wellness Weeks and fall quarter

The hours of operation for the above dining centers will be 7:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. There will be a break in service between 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. for shift change and deep cleaning.

Chicago locations – including Starbucks, Slice, and Harry's – will be open for limited hours on Monday-Friday and support mobile ordering.

Experience for On-Campus Students

Meal plans will be required for all students living in housing and will begin with breakfast on the morning of September 6. During Wildcat Wellness, students will be scheduled to select to-go meals, by floor, over a three-hour window for lunch and again for dinner. Meals will be provided in to-go containers, and all service will be carry-out only during this period. Breakfast bags will be set out during the dinner meal for those not wanting to visit the dining center in the morning. Students will be able to pick up more than one of their meals at a time. Once a student receives a meal and beverage, they must leave the space and eat in their rooms, on their residential floors, or outside.

There will be socially distanced queuing provided in tents adjacent to the dining halls. We anticipate wait times in line during this period to be around 30 minutes. Once students enter the dining hall, they will choose from six food stations. Vegan, halal, and Pure Eats (allergy & celiac friendly dining) options will be provided at all halls. Kosher dining will be limited to Allison and Elder. Further consolidation of food stations may be necessary if wait times become unmanageable. Some examples of consolidation might include preparing deli sandwiches in advance, providing boxed options for Pure Eats, etc.

Students are permitted to visit a dining hall outside of their assigned time or arrange for pick up through the Boost mobile app if needed.

Residents may have food delivered to their residential community or fraternity/sorority facility. Those making deliveries may not enter the residential space for any reason, and residents should meet the delivery person at an exterior door of the facility for the exchange of the delivery. Residents are encouraged to limit, and if possible, avoid any physical contact with those making deliveries.

Implications for Off-Campus Students

Off campus students and those who purchase voluntary meal plans (including faculty and staff) will be able to access the halls consistent with the expectations outlined above.