Skip to main content

COVID-19 Updates - Indoor masking requirement reinstated

Dear students, faculty and staff,

I write today with some brief updates about the COVID-19 environment on campus. 


Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois Department of Public Health and the Evanston and Chicago public health agencies, Northwestern will reinstate its masking requirement in all indoor shared public spaces, effective tomorrow, Aug. 4. This applies to all students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, except when:

  • In a private room, such as an office, apartment or residence hall room
  • Actively eating or drinking

Faculty who are fully vaccinated and who are teaching in-person may do so without a mask, provided they maintain appropriate distancing.

Masking remains optional outdoors, though certain outdoor events may elect to require masking based on the number of attendees and location of the event.

Northwestern will revisit its masking requirement in late August as we learn more about the local trajectory of the pandemic.

Testing and Positive Cases

Despite COVID-19 cases—particularly those involving the Delta variant—rising around us, Northwestern has remained a safe and healthy community. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a slight increase in the number of positive cases identified through on-campus testing or submitted through the self-reporting portal. Some of those cases have occurred in fully vaccinated individuals, and thankfully those individuals have had only minor symptoms. Importantly, none of these cases has resulted from any on-campus transmission. 

As a reminder, free testing is available for all students, faculty, staff and visitors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Jacobs Center (2001 Sheridan Road) in Evanston and at 345 E. Superior St. in Chicago. Any unvaccinated members of the community are required to test at least twice per week, but everyone is encouraged to take advantage of the available testing resources. Northwestern will continue to work with public health and medical advisors to adjust the frequency of testing as the situation evolves.


Northwestern has previously announced vaccination requirements for students and faculty and staff. To date, nearly 30,000 members of our community have confirmed they have been vaccinated. These numbers evolve daily as incoming students matriculate, and we will provide updates as we approach Fall.

If you have not yet submitted your vaccination record, please do so immediately. Anyone without a vaccine disclosure or approved exception on record is currently considered unvaccinated and subject to the restrictions previously announced.

Northwestern’s response to COVID-19 has always been guided by the science and current public health advice. Northwestern is committed to returning its faculty and staff to in-person operations—including classes and co-curricular activities—in the fall. We will share updates as they become available via email and our Return to Campus Discussion Series events.

Thank you for your continued diligence during the pandemic.



Luke Figora
Vice President for Operations