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Faculty and Staff: Preparing for the Upcoming Term

Dear Northwestern Faculty and Staff,

Your presence on campus in January

All schools and units have assessed the amount of in-person presence that is necessary for the upcoming term, which guides expectations for individual faculty and staff. While students observe the Wildcat Wellness period, faculty and staff should continue to work from home if possible, except for those who directly support students’ return to campus via in-person functions.

After the Wellness period ends (Jan. 17 for most programs), you should plan to follow your department’s return-to-campus plans. In early January, we will provide additional guidance in alignment with state and local regulations and guidelines.

To balance campus needs with individual employee needs, the Alternate Work Arrangements policy has been extended through March 31, 2021. Faculty and staff who are actively using this policy should check with their supervisor/manager or department chair about continuation. For questions about the policy, faculty may contact the Office of the Provost at Staff may contact their Human Resources business partner at Faculty and staff initiating a new request should visit the policy website.

Important testing updates

Faculty and staff choosing to opt into testing in January, should:

As previously announced, faculty and staff who plan to work regularly onsite have the option to sign-up for the Recurring Surveillance Program. Those who have frequent in-person interactions with students, the public or large numbers of employees are encouraged to enroll. If you opt into the program, you will be assigned either a weekly or every-other-week cadence based on your role, and will be expected to continue testing as instructed through the term. Enrollment for the Recurring Surveillance Program will end on Dec. 31. Those who enroll will receive next steps in January and will begin testing toward the end of Wildcat Wellness.

Those who choose not to enroll in the Recurring Surveillance Program will have the ability sign-up for voluntary testing appointments at their convenience throughout the term (up to one time per week). Voluntary appointments will be available in January and can be booked here.

There will be a limited number of testing appointments available for faculty and staff required to work onsite during Wildcat Wellness, starting Jan. 4 in Evanston and Jan. 6 in Chicago. Appointments can be made here by selecting the Voluntary Testing option for your campus. An email confirmation will provide details about preparing for the test.

Any faculty or staff planning to participate in COVID-19 testing should set up a Color testing account before their first test and make an appointment for all tests, either through the Recurring Surveillance Program or Voluntary Testing. Starting in January, all asymptomatic testing will occur at the Jacobs Center (Evanston) or 345 E. Superior St. (Chicago). Additional pick-up/drop-off sites will open later in the term, and you can find information about the type of testing for each site on the testing website. This video walks through the check-in and testing process, and important information on completing your test is outlined here. When checking in for your testing appointment, please make sure you have the following:

  • Your NetID;
  • A copy of your appointment confirmation email if booking a voluntary testing appointment;
  • A smartphone or laptop that can be used to activate your testing kit. If you don’t have that with you, you can pick-up a testing kit and complete the remainder of the process at the location of your convenience, as long as you follow these important steps.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the protocols for symptomatic testing. For additional details, please visit the faculty and staff testing website. Please note, faculty and staff testing is limited to faculty and staff directly employed by Northwestern University.

Campus building access

Continued use of the Symptom Tracker is required for entering campus. Building access will remain limited during the Wildcat Wellness period with select buildings open during published building hours. Throughout the term, building access will be monitored and Wildcards will be required to enter some buildings. Anyone entering buildings on Evanston and Chicago campuses must be ready to show their Symptom Tracker badge upon entry or when asked within buildings. Building monitors will actively monitor certain campus spaces and conduct random compliance checks to ensure the safety of our community.

Travel guidance

The University has recently updated its travel policy to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new four-tiered, country-specific COVID-19 risk rating system. Our revised policy prohibits all non-personal faculty, student and staff international travel, regardless of country or the CDC’s COVID-19 risk level. No such travel should be booked through University travel providers, nor will any reimbursements for such travel be allowed, even if combined with personal travel. This policy applies to all members of our community, regardless of nationality, and will be in effect until circumstances change.

We recognize that in certain very rare circumstances, exceptions to this policy may be warranted. Therefore, we are implementing a rigorous, multi-step process for the review of exceptions. Exceptions will not be appropriate unless the travel is “essential,” that is, critical to the mission of the University, or in the case of graduate students, critical to the completion of the course of study, and the work cannot be postponed or conducted remotely. However, given the risks to individual travelers, to our community contagion rates and to international communities, we must recognize that all international “essential” travel cannot be approved. At this time, only graduate students, faculty and staff can seek a travel exception. For more information and instructions, please review the COVID-19 Travel Guidance webpage.

Information for instructors

Please note that some programs begin Jan. 4 while others begin Jan. 11. Classes will be remote until the end of the Wildcat Wellness period.

Support for remote instruction is still available. Instructors can access a variety of resources here including on-demand training courses. Instructors may want to consider hiring a Zoom Assistant to help with the delivery of remote instruction.

Like the fall quarter, classes will be taught in one of the following modalities: asynchronous, synchronous, hybrid or face-to-face. During the term, should an instructor need to change the modality of a course from how it appears in registration systems, the instructor should inform the students, update the syllabus and reach out to their regular class-scheduling contact to request the update to CAESAR and other campus systems. 

University policies and expectations

All University policies and procedures for students and faculty continue to apply to remote learning, including the University’s expectations around academic integrity. Course materials continue to be copyrighted and cannot be reproduced, distributed, posted or sold by students.

Recording of synchronous remote class sessions

We ask that instructors who plan to record portions of classes include the following statement on their syllabus. Please note that we have updated our policy concerning synchronous class recordings to address the needs of faculty who may wish to reuse such recordings beyond the current term. General guidelines for recording classes and links to information on the reuse of recordings can be found here. Please include this statement on your syllabus:

This class or portions of this class will be recorded by the instructor for educational purposes and available to the class during the quarter. Your instructor will communicate how you can access the recordings. Portions of the course that contain images, questions or commentary/discussion by students will be edited out of any recordings that are saved beyond the current term.

Unauthorized student recording of class sessions remains prohibited, and faculty should not permit individual students to record class sessions for any reason. Please have students direct requests related to accommodations to AccessibleNU. Please include this statement on your syllabus:

Unauthorized student recording of classroom or other academic activities (including advising sessions or office hours) is prohibited. Unauthorized recording is unethical and may also be a violation of University policy and state law. Students requesting the use of assistive technology as an accommodation should contact AccessibleNU. Unauthorized use of classroom recordings – including distributing or posting them – is also prohibited.  Under the University’s Copyright Policy, faculty own the copyright to instructional materials – including those resources created specifically for the purposes of instruction, such as syllabi, lectures and lecture notes, and presentations. Students cannot copy, reproduce, display or distribute these materials. Students who engage in unauthorized recording, unauthorized use of a recording or unauthorized distribution of instructional materials will be referred to the appropriate University office for follow-up.

 Thank you again for all of your efforts this year as we navigate the impacts of the pandemic together. We look forward to partnering with you again in January as we welcome more students back to campus. We hope you have a wonderful and safe Winter Recess and return re-energized in the new year.

Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor 

Manuel Cuevas-Trisán
Vice President for Human Resources

Luke Figora
Senior Associate Vice President 
Chief Risk and Compliance Officer