COVID-19 updates for summer and fall
Dear students, faculty and staff,
We are pleased to report that the COVID-19 landscape at Northwestern, and in our surrounding communities, has remained stable since our last community message in June. Local public health agencies are tracking regional hospitalization and severe case data, and we are using that input to help guide University decisions. Today we provide important updates on our guidelines that take effect this summer and will carry into the fall.
Vaccine requirement and testing availability
Northwestern continues to require COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty and staff. Currently, more than 98% of the Northwestern community are vaccinated. As before, community members may request an exception to the requirement based on personal health conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs.
While Northwestern’s COVID-19 testing sites in Evanston and Chicago will remain operational into the fall, hours and dates may be updated as we adjust to fluctuating demand. Before visiting a testing location, please check the COVID-19 website for the current testing hours, which differ for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. Due to significant usage differences of the Evanston and Chicago testing centers, their days and hours of operation may vary.
If you require a test when Northwestern’s testing centers are not open, we encourage you to obtain an at-home test from a pharmacy or visit a testing location off campus. Northwestern does not reimburse individuals or units for off-campus testing expenses. Free at-home tests are available through the federal government and most health insurance plans.
Update on testing requirements
For now, Northwestern has ended its COVID-19 testing requirements. That means weekly testing is no longer required for individuals who have an approved exception to the University’s vaccination requirement or those who have not received a booster shot. Individual departments and programs are not permitted to require arrival testing. However, voluntary COVID-19 testing will be available at Northwestern’s on-campus testing sites.
Quarantine and isolation
In alignment with updated public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Northwestern no longer requires individuals to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. Northwestern will continue to provide isolation housing at least through the rest of the calendar year for on-campus residential students who test positive for COVID-19. Updates to Fall Quarter plans for students in Isolation Housing will be posted online in the coming weeks.
To support academic flexibility and continuity, instructors who teach an in-person class may teach up to 10% of their class sessions remotely in the fall.
Reporting positive tests
Students, faculty and staff who access campus are required to report positive cases of COVID-19. If you test positive for COVID-19 somewhere other than one of our on-campus testing sites, submit your test result by clicking on “Report COVID-19 Test Results” through the link provided and following the prompts, and return to campus only after you have cleared your isolation period.
The COVID-19 Response Team will soon roll out streamlined communication procedures for individuals who test positive or report a positive test. These changes will significantly reduce the need for direct follow-ups between you and the COVID-19 Response Team. In most cases, there is no need to connect directly with a Northwestern COVID-19 case manager.
Boosters strongly recommended
As announced in June, Northwestern has phased out its requirement for COVID-19 booster shots. Because boosters remain a critical tool for minimizing severe illness in individuals, we strongly recommend boosters for those who can obtain them.
If future boosters provide different benefits than we know today, Northwestern may reinstate its booster requirement. Students, faculty and staff are still encouraged to report additional booster shots as they receive them using Northwestern’s online tool.
In alignment with public health guidance, Northwestern continues to recommend indoor masking in areas where distancing is not possible when transmission levels are elevated. There may be campus events during which masks are required more broadly. Members of the University community are encouraged to bring their own masks to campus. Free surgical masks will be available at the Jacobs Center in Evanston and 345 E. Superior St. in Chicago, and free KN95 masks, designed to further reduce individual risk of contracting COVID-19 and other airborne diseases, are available at the front desk of the Norris University Center and in the lobby of the Chicago testing site at 345 E. Superior St.
Northwestern’s Symptom Tracker tool is being phased out over the summer, and the COVID-19 Response Team will no longer reach out to people who badge themselves red by submitting their COVID-19-related symptoms via the app. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or need to test because of an exposure, you do not need to indicate that with Symptom Tracker or by contacting the Case Management team. Instead, please take advantage of the on-campus testing resources, conduct an at-home test or arrange for a test off campus.
While we adapt to the long-term nature of COVID-19, we also will remain nimble and responsive to the trajectory of the pandemic. Thank you for your partnership on this ongoing community effort. We look forward to another successful academic year.
Vice President for Operations
Provost and Professor