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Clarification on January return to campus and in-person testing

Dear students,

We have received a number of questions about Northwestern’s expectations for in-person testing and returning to campus in January. We appreciate your desire to plan as far in advance as possible.

To reinforce the message we sent yesterday: All graduate and undergraduate students who are registered for in-person classes are required to take one in-person, on-campus COVID-19 test each week of Wildcat Wellness, which runs from Jan. 1 through 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Students who live in the residence halls are welcome to move in as early as Jan. 1. All students taking in-person classes during Winter Quarter must arrive early enough to complete their first-week testing requirement—no later than Friday, Jan. 7. A second in-person, on-campus test is required during the second week of Wildcat Wellness. Students who do not complete these testing requirements will be referred to the Office of Community Standards for non-compliance.

We anticipate long lines at our COVID-19 testing centers toward the end of the first week, so we encourage students to arrive early in the week to avoid long outdoor wait times. Based on feedback from students and parents, we expect fewer students to need testing on Jan. 2, so the Jacobs Center will now be closed that day. The Jacobs Center and Chicago testing sites will both offer extended hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Jan. 3 through Jan. 14.

Students with COVID-19 symptoms should delay their return to campus. Regardless of vaccination status or the presence of symptoms, all undergraduate and graduate students should take two at-home COVID-19 tests: One 36 hours before travelling to campus and a second at-home test immediately after arriving on campus. At-home tests will be available in Norris University Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 2, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Jan. 3 through Jan. 7. Students living in residence halls will have tests available in their rooms when they return. To submit test results, click on “Report COVID-19 Test Results” at the link provided and follow the prompts.

We are requiring you to take an in-person test each week of the Wildcat Wellness period because it will help us better understand and respond to the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus upon your return, particularly after the holidays and travel. Our approach to testing and returning to campus will help us stabilize campus health with the aim of starting in-person activity on Jan. 18. We appreciate your patience, your understanding and your partnership as we adjust our approach to Winter Quarter and as we adjust to shifting dynamics of the pandemic. 

Thank you,

Luke Figora
Vice President for Operations