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Planning for Spring Break and Spring Quarter

As we write today, we look toward Spring Break and Spring Quarter as well as back on our experiences this term thus far. The percentage of students, faculty and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 is quite low, for which we are grateful. It is clear that most of us are striving to do what is best for all, adhering to public health and Northwestern guidelines.

To better facilitate these behaviors and ensure that we fulfill our responsibilities to one another, monitors are now stationed at entrances to several campus buildings. When asked, please stop and show your green symptom tracker badge. Thank you for your devotion to this and for all your efforts to keep yourself and our community healthy.

Some of you have reported potential violations to our COVID-19 expectations — everything from individuals not wearing masks, to hosting parties on and off campus, to avoiding being tested. We cannot emphasize enough how seriously we take these allegations. We promise you that we are taking action quickly when we have detailed and actionable information. To that end, we are designing a new staffing approach in the dining halls to mitigate your concerns. In spaces with fewer staff members, we rely on you to  report violations, which you can do anonymously. It is important that you are as specific as possible, including the who, what, when and where of the incident. We can only stop concerning actions if we can reach those who are involved.

Spring Break

As you make any plans for Spring Break, please prioritize your and others’ health. For residential students, there is no additional charge to remain on campus during this period, and dining hall meal services will continue to operate. You will receive more information from Residential Services about how to communicate your Spring Break plans by Feb. 15. For all students, several campus organizations will offer programming designed for the break to keep you engaged with friends and classmates.

If you remain in campus housing or continue to visit campus during the break, you must continue your COVID-19 testing regimen during this period.

Whether you stay in the area or find it necessary to travel, it is imperative that you adhere to CDC guidelines and Northwestern policies at all times. Keep wearing your mask, maintain appropriate social distances, wash your hands and avoid large groups.

Spring Quarter & Wildcat Wellness

Spring Quarter begins, for most programs, on Tuesday, March 30 with a Northwestern Monday, in which programs will follow their typical Monday schedule on Tuesday, March 30, and return to the standard schedule on Wednesday, March 31. Students, faculty and staff will hear from their program or school directly if their classes begin on a different schedule.

We expect course modalities in Spring to be very similar to our Winter Quarter offerings. Operations outside the classroom also will remain relatively unchanged from Winter to Spring, including campus occupancy rates. In the coming weeks, we will share plans for graduation celebrations and other details about the study and work environments in Spring Quarter.

All Spring classes will meet remotely during the first week of the term while we observe Wildcat Wellness, a modified quarantine period that aims to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and begin our term healthfully. Regardless of Spring Break travel, all students will participate in this wellness period, March 29 through April 5. Students planning to come to campus in the Spring Quarter should arrive in the area no later than March 30. Face-to-face classes and meetings may gather in person for the first time Tuesday, April 6.

The Spring Wildcat Wellness period will be similar to what we experienced at the start of Winter Quarter. Students must be tested the day they arrive (no later than March 30). All undergraduates will be tested twice and graduate students once after their arrival and before classes meet in person. In a slight departure from our Winter Quarter practice, students in residence halls will pick up meals from dining halls during this period, rather than receiving meals delivered to the residence halls. We will send additional details about scheduling testing and other components of Spring Wildcat Wellness and recurring testing obligations no later than March 20.

We recognize that the Holi, Passover and Easter holidays occur during the Spring Wildcat Wellness period. Those wishing to celebrate religious holidays during this time are welcome to do so in ways that align with CDC, state and local guidelines. Religious & Spiritual Life staff also are planning observance opportunities. Information will be available on their website

Faculty and staff should also observe Wildcat Wellness by refraining from in-person activities except continuing on-campus research and those necessary to support students’ return.

If Spring Break is truly a break for you, we sincerely hope you will find time to refresh, re-center and relax. If not, we encourage you to find another time to do the same. The pace of the quarter can be challenging in any year, and this isn’t just any year. Take care of yourselves and others, and be well.



Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
Vice President for Student Affairs