Faculty and Staff COVID-19 Updates for Summer
Dear faculty and staff,
Together we successfully navigated the twists and turns of COVID-19 through another academic year. Each of us has experienced the pandemic in different ways, and we’re proud of our community’s mutual respect and support for one another. Thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation through these challenges.
Today we provide updates on our approach to COVID-19. As the world adapts to the long-term nature of this pandemic, Northwestern will do the same. Even as we adjust our guidelines and resources this summer to match the current health landscape, we will remain nimble and responsive to the changes around us in collaboration with public health agencies and our medical partners.
Vaccine and booster requirements
Northwestern continues to require the COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty and staff. Community members may request an exception based on personal health or sincerely held religious beliefs. Those receiving a vaccination exception and who will spend time on campus this summer must complete at least one on-campus COVID-19 test per week, in compliance with the requirements outlined in the governor’s executive order.
Northwestern will phase out its requirement for booster shots. More than 95% of the Northwestern community has reported receiving at least one booster shot, and we strongly recommend boosters for those who medically are able to obtain them. While boosters don’t necessarily prevent individuals from contracting COVID-19 or transmitting it to others, they are important tools for minimizing severe illness in individuals. For now, those who are vaccinated but not boosted are not required to complete weekly onsite testing.
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.
On-campus testing hours
Beginning this month, the hours for free COVID-19 testing at Northwestern’s sites in Evanston and Chicago will be scaled down to match the declining demand. Hours and dates may vary from week to week and may be adjusted over the course of the summer. Before visiting a testing location, please check the COVID-19 website for the current testing hours, which differ for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. Please note, due to the significant difference in usage of the testing centers, the hours and days of available testing will vary between the Evanston and Chicago campuses.
If you require a test during a time when Northwestern’s testing centers are not open, we encourage you to do so at an off-campus location. The University has a small number of at-home COVID-19 tests that were purchased for programmatic needs and are due to expire soon. Faculty and staff who are interested in these test kits can pick them up at our Chicago or Evanston test sites while supplies last. 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.
Reporting positive tests
Students, faculty and staff who have a summer presence on 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 self-isolation period.
Reporting positive tests is encouraged but not required for those who are off campus this summer. Submitting these results creates a record that will help the University best manage your requirements when you return to campus.
Over the summer, the COVID-19 Response Team will streamline the communications you receive when you test positive or report a positive test. These changes will be implemented over time and 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 talk directly with a Northwestern COVID-19 case manager.
Due to its limited use, Northwestern’s Symptom Tracker tool will be 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, we encourage you to use the on-campus testing resources, take an at-home test or arrange for a test off campus.
In alignment with public health guidance, Northwestern continues to strongly recommend indoor masking in areas where distancing is not possible when transmission levels are elevated. Free surgical masks are available in many campus buildings and free KN95 masks, designed to further reduce individual risk of contracting COVID-19 and other communicable 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 COVID-19 website will be edited to reflect the changes that will take place this summer. After the June 17 update to the COVID-19 Dashboard, we will suspend reporting a COVID-19 positivity rate. The University will continue to report positive case numbers each Friday. This decision comes as hospitalization and severe case data now play a dominant role in determining community guidelines.
Over the summer, we will continue to assess Northwestern’s needs for the next academic year and communicate any further changes. We again thank you for your partnership and hope you can take some time this summer to rest and recharge for the fall.
Vice President for Operations
Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer
Provost and Professor