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For Students: COVID-19 testing requirement extended through next week

Dear students,

With the pending completion of the Wildcat Wellness stabilization period, combined with Northwestern’s extensive health protocols and the relative safety of our highly vaccinated community, we are ready to resume in-person classes and activities Jan. 18.

As we’ve shared in previous communications, we have been monitoring multiple data points as we evaluate our response to the pandemic. Currently, Northwestern’s COVID-19 case numbers and test positivity rates are declining, and positivity rates among asymptomatic individuals remain low. We will update the COVID-19 dashboard with this current data later today. Additionally, the number of residential students who are in isolation housing has come down significantly from a peak earlier this week as students test out under the new isolation guidelines we shared in December.

As an added measure for monitoring our return to in-person activities, all undergraduate and graduate students who are registered for in-person classes are required to complete at least one COVID-19 test at one of our testing sites between Tuesday, Jan. 18 and Friday, Jan. 21. Students who have tested positive in the past 90 days do not need to complete this requirement, and students in evening and weekend programs are asked to follow guidelines from their programs. The Jacobs Center and Chicago testing sites will return to their typical testing hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday next week. Additionally, we will open the Jacobs Center testing site for symptomatic testing—but not asymptomatic testing—from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Monday, Jan. 17. These will be the hours for symptomatic testing at the Jacobs Center from Monday through Friday going forward.

We provide the following updates today as a final preparation for our return to in-person classes and activities. As always, we will continue to monitor these trends and will adjust plans if warranted. 

Campus health protocols

As we announced last week, we now recommend wearing a high-quality mask—at minimum a surgical mask—in shared campus environments. Students are required to wear a surgical or higher quality mask in the classroom, and it is recommended to wear a cloth mask over it. Surgical masks are readily available in the entryways of most buildings on campus and are proven to be more effective than cloth masks. In addition, the University has procured a limited quantity of KN95 masks, and we will make those available to students. We will share additional details on our Face Coverings and Face Masks webpage when they are available.

This updated masking guidance, coupled with a robust testing program, are our best tools for managing on-campus spread of COVID-19. With these measures in place, and in alignment with current public health advice, contact tracing will remain suspended. Our COVID Response Team will continue to focus on supporting individuals who test positive within the campus community. 

Due to continued national supply constraints, Northwestern is suspending distribution of at-home tests at the Evanston and Chicago testing sites for another week to ensure we can continue to prioritize on-site and programmatic testing needs. We continue to work with our vendors to secure more at-home tests and will communicate when they are available again for pick-up.

Return to Campus Discussion Series webinar recording

In preparation for our return, Northwestern hosted a community webinar this week that detailed the University’s current health environment, health requirements and procedures, community supports and classroom expectations. If you were unable to watch live, we encourage you to view the recording. We hosted a second webinar specifically for faculty.

Booster reminder

Subject to limited exceptions, all students, as well as faculty and staff who work on campus, must obtain a COVID-19 vaccination booster by Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, or 30 days after becoming eligible, whichever is later. Please attest to your booster status and upload your documentation online.

As we continue to navigate our response to the pandemic, we will share any updates with you as they arise. You can always check our COVID-19 website for updated information.

We thank you for all you have done to help us stabilize our University so that in-person classes and activities can resume next week as planned. Your continued diligence will help us have the best chance to continue in-person activities and classes for the full Winter Quarter. 


Luke Figora
Vice President for Operations

Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
Vice President for Student Affairs