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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 aims to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19 and to better position the campus community to start the quarter healthy and well. 

Wildcat Wellness will begin on September 6 for students living off-campus, and begin on the date of move-in for students living on-campus. All Northwestern students who intend to return to the Evanston campus must follow a 3-stage modified quarantine before the start of in-person activity. 

The current Wildcat Wellness plan has been amplified since it was originally communicated. Wildcat Wellness will consist of three stages:

  • Stage A – Arrival Testing Period: During the testing period, undergraduates will remain in their on-campus room or off-campus residence until they receive the results of their arrival test. Students must limit social interactions, avoiding any non-roommate in-person social interactions during this period.
    • On-campus undergraduates will be tested soon after move-in. They will remain in their residence halls, primarily in their rooms, until they receive their results, which will be approximately two to three days after testing. During this time meals will be delivered to residence halls.
    • Off-campus undergraduates will be able to sign up for a testing appointment during a dedicated set of days. Prior to receiving a negative test result, off-campus undergraduates may not come to campus for any reason other than medical needs. Off-campus students must self-quarantine, leaving their residences only for essential activities such as grocery shopping and other core needs.
  • Stage B – Post-Arrival Testing Period: After students receive negative test results on their arrival tests, they will transition into the second period of Wildcat Wellness. In this stage, students may leave their on-campus room or off-campus residence only to perform the narrow set of previously communicated allowed activities. Students must return to their residences and rooms no later than 7 p.m. daily and remain there until 7 a.m. the following morning.
    • Students who need to go to essential jobs that cannot be performed remotely and in-season student athletes with team-based activities can leave their residence halls outside of this timeframe for those activities only.
    • During this Stage, meals will continue to be delivered to residence halls.
    • The first three days of classes will be delivered remotely.
  • Stage C – In-Person Activity: As previously communicated, at the conclusion of the 15-day period, in-person activity will begin on September 21 for those students who are not in quarantine or isolation. Any in-person activity must adhere to community expectations regarding wearing face coverings and maintaining 6-foot physical distancing. In-person classes will begin, and dining halls will open with both dine-in and grab-and-go options. Dining halls plan to open around September 21.

Many non-essential campus facilities may have restricted access during Wildcat Wellness. Core services, like Health Services, will be open.

All undergraduate students, whether living in residence halls or off campus, must comply with these requirements.  Wildcat Wellness will begin on September 6 for students living off-campus, and begin on the date of move-in for students living on-campus. In the event there are more positive cases than expected during the Wildcat Wellness period, Northwestern may need to extend the period of remote classes into the week of September 21. We hope not to do this, and the compliance and behavior of our students will be extraordinarily important during this period.

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

Campus-wide Modified Quarantine

Throughout the fall, the University will closely monitor the number of students, faculty, and staff who test positive for COVID-19, and the number of students in quarantine and isolation. Based on these numbers, the University may issue a return to Stage B or Stage A of Wildcat Wellness, or may make the difficult decision to effectively close on-campus housing.

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 during Stage B of Wildcat Wellness. 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.
  • Essential work that cannot be performed remotely. If your work is essential, you cannot perform it remotely, and you have received your negative test result, essential work is permitted, though please consider modifying your schedule to stay at home through Wildcat Wellness and work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on those days.
  • Engaging in outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, running, and biking.

All of these aforementioned activities must be performed while wearing face coverings, especially where maintaining social distance of six feet is impractical. These activities that are considered essential must only be performed by those who are well and without symptoms. Those with symptoms or sick should stay home.

COVID-19 Testing

All students living on campus and off campus will receive a COVID-19 test. As described above, negative test results are required for on-campus students to move to Stage B of Wildcat Wellness and for off-campus students to be able to come to campus, other than for medical needs.

Additional information about testing, quarantine and isolation, and procedures for positive cases can be found on the COVID-19 Health webpages.

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 has been 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.
  • Following expectations posted on campus.

What to Expect

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

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 6. If you arrive in Evanston after September 13, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon your arrival.
  • Virtual programming will be offered. You should follow the three stages of Wildcat Wellness based on the timing and results of your COVID-19 test. 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 once a negative test is recorded.
  • 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 only — 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, and they should not host or attend large gatherings and parties.

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 12. If you move in to your housing after September 12, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon your arrival. You should follow the three stages of Wildcat Wellness based on the timing and results of your COVID-19 test. Additional details about move-in can be found on the Residential Services website.
  • Room sizes and arrangements have been considered to safely accommodate residents.
  • In Stages A and B, meals will be delivered to residence halls. Meals in fraternity and sorority houses will be served in the chapter facilities.
  • 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, and they should not host or attend large gatherings and parties.


Your nutritional health is important, and our Northwestern Dining team is here for you. Plans for dining halls are evolving. Dining halls plan to open around September 21.

For fall hours and list of available dining halls, visit the  Dine on Campus webpage.