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End of Fall Quarter Holiday Travel and Testing for Faculty and Staff

Dear faculty and staff,

Thank you for all that you’ve done to help get Northwestern to this point in the Fall Quarter. It has not been easy, but together we’ve been able to keep our COVID-19 positivity rates manageable as we approach the start of the holiday season.

The last day of in-person classes is Tuesday, Nov. 24, and Thanksgiving vacation is Thursday, Nov. 26, through Sunday, Nov. 29. This email outlines some new guidelines and expectations for personal travel and the holidays, as well as testing after Thanksgiving break.

Holiday Travel and Gatherings

While we all look forward to seeing our friends and families during the holidays, we ask that you review recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health about safe practices for this holiday season.

For faculty and staff planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, we strongly suggest you postpone or limit personal travel to areas across the country where COVID-19 is particularly prevalent and subject to the current City of Chicago travel quarantine order. However, if you do visit one of these areas, we request that you self-quarantine and work remotely for 14 days following travel before returning to either the Evanston or Chicago campus.

Those who are identified as essential employees by their managers or who need to access campus to complete their work or research following such travel will be expected to self-quarantine for one week after their return. They may access campus after obtaining a negative COVID-19 test, which should be arranged five to seven days after return from travel.  

Testing for Faculty and Staff After Thanksgiving

We have continued testing a random sampling of faculty and staff weekly, completing more than 9,500 tests over the last eight weeks. Positivity remains low, less than .5%, which further evidences the diligent efforts you are taking to protect the health of our community. We will continue this testing through Nov. 13, reserving most of the tests between Nov. 16-25 for our students who will travel home at the end of Fall Quarter.

Following the Thanksgiving break and until Dec. 18, voluntary testing will be available for faculty and staff who would like it. We will share additional information about booking those appointments as the time approaches.

As mentioned in the Oct. 28 message, there will be changes to the testing protocols for the winter term. More information about this will follow in November and December.

If You Have COVID-19 Symptoms

Faculty and staff members who develop symptoms of COVID-19 and are working on campus or who are identified through contact tracing should answer “Yes” to the daily Symptomtracker survey, which will produce a red badge for the day. A member of the COVID Response Team will contact you to learn more about your symptoms and refer you to a Northwestern Medicine location for COVID testing. You cannot be tested at the campus asymptomatic testing locations (Jacobs Center or 345 Superior) if you have symptoms or have been identified by contact tracing.

Alternatively, you can arrange for testing through your personal medical provider or through one of the  COVID-19 testing sites run by the State of Illinois. If you receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis outside of the University’s testing program, email the COVID Response Team at immediately to report your diagnosis, so that they can assist you with next steps.

As always, we thank you for playing a role in our collective effort to protect the health and well-being of Wildcats and the communities we live in.