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Instructors

Updated Sep. 28, 2022

Remote Teaching

Instructors teaching an in-person class may teach up to 10% of their class sessions remotely.

For more information about remote teaching, syllabus statements and more, please see the FAQs below. The Searle Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning provides additional resources for teaching during the pandemic.

Risk Management and the Office of the Provost continue to collaborate with schools and units on plans to respond to positivity in their areas. Northwestern also may implement other measures as recommended by public health experts. Instructors should consider some “what if” planning scenarios in the event that remote instruction is necessary.

School-Specific Questions and Resources

In addition to the broader academic questions listed below, some of Northwestern's schools have developed specific ​resources for their communities. Please visit the School and Unit Websites resource page for more information. 

Syllabus Statements

Are there University policies that instructors should communicate to students?

All instructors are asked to review the syllabus statements and follow the instructions for including the statements provided on course syllabi.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination

What are the COVID-19 testing requirements for students, faculty and staff?

Northwestern has ended its COVID-19 testing requirements. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing are available for all students, faculty and staff.

Can instructors ask students in their class if they are vaccinated or boosted?

An individual’s vaccination status is confidential. Instructors should not inquire about their students’ vaccination status.

What should instructors do if they learn that a student in their class is unvaccinated?

Though a student may share health information with you, this is confidential and must not be shared with others, including other members of the class or other instructors.

Illness and Isolation

What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

The student will receive a notification from Northwestern’s COVID-19 Response Team with guidance on next steps. This includes direction regarding the need to self-isolate in accordance with Northwestern and CDC requirements regardless of vaccination status as well as guidance on how Northwestern will help support their health and welfare throughout this period.

If I learn that one of my students has tested positive for COVID-19, should I inform the class?

While a student may choose to share their health information with you, this information is confidential and must not be shared with others, including members of the class. Note that when individuals believe they may have been exposed, they do not need to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. However, they should begin taking additional safety precautions immediately and obtain a COVID-19 test five full days after their last exposure.

We ask that you facilitate continued engagement in your course for students who must isolate. Please see Supporting Excused Student Absences Due to COVID for additional information and suggestions.

How will instructors be notified if a student in their class is required to isolate?

Students will notify their instructors if they are unable to attend class but are not required to share confidential health information with their instructors. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be provided with language that they can use to notify their instructors and school advisor.

What should instructors do if a student comes to class and appears to show symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., coughing) or other illness?

Students with symptoms of COVID-19 should test prior to attending in-person class. If the test result is negative, there is no need to miss class. If the test is positive, students are required to self-isolate and may not attend in-person classes until they have been cleared by the Case Management team. Students who live in on-campus housing must follow their specific isolation procedures. All students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should follow the recommended testing procedures.

Instructors are encouraged to remind students of this expectation on the first day of class. Because students may be concerned about their academic progress if they need to miss class, instructors should include a clear policy on excused absences in their syllabus. Instructors should share how and when they expect students to communicate with them about absences as well as policies for making up missed work. Please see Supporting Excused Student Absences Due to COVID for additional information and suggestions.

What should I do if a student tells me they think they might have been exposed to COVID-19 and therefore will be absent from class?

As long as they have no symptoms, students who were exposed to COVID-19 can continue to attend in-person classes with additional safety precautions and should obtain a COVID-19 test five full days after their last exposure. If the test is positive, students are required to self-isolate and may not attend in-person classes until they have been cleared by the Case Management team. If the test is negative, students should continue additional safety precautions for ten full days after their last exposure.

Students who were exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should obtain a test prior to attending in-person classes. If the test result is negative, there is no need to miss class. If the test is positive, students are required to self-isolate and may not attend in-person classes until they have been cleared by the Case Management team. Students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should follow the recommended testing procedures.

Instructors are encouraged to remind students of this expectation on the first day of class. Because students may be concerned about their academic progress if they need to miss class, instructors should include a clear policy on excused absences in their syllabus. Instructors should share how and when they expect students to communicate with them about absences as well as policies for making up missed work. Please see Supporting Excused Student Absences Due to COVID for additional information and suggestions.

What should I do if I learn that a student in my class is in isolation?

Though a student may share health information with you at times, this is confidential and must not be shared with others, including other members of the class. Instructors should identify in their syllabus how they will facilitate continued course engagement for students who are absent because they are in isolation. See Supporting Students with Excused Absences due to COVID. Instructors may choose to record class sessions. See also Policy on Class Recordings and Guidelines for Recording Classes.

How long are students required to isolate?

Regardless of one’s vaccination status, all individuals who test positive are required to isolate for at least five full days. Students must be cleared by the Case Management team before returning to in-person classes and observe additional safety precautions through the 10th day following their initial positive test. Students who test positive are required to follow the University’s self-isolation procedures.

What should instructors do if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or need to isolate?

Instructors with symptoms of COVID-19 should test for COVID-19 prior to teaching an in-person class. If the test result is negative, there is no need to delay in-person classes. If the test is positive, instructors are required to self-isolate and may not teach in-person classes until they have been cleared by the Case Management team. Instructors who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should follow the recommended testing processes.

Please note that instructors teaching an in-person course may teach up to 10% of their class sessions remotely. Should exceptional circumstances arise that require additional remote class sessions, the instructor should contact their department or dean’s office.

How can instructors prepare for a class that may have students in isolation?

Instructors should identify in their syllabi how they will facilitate continued course engagement for students who are absent because they have symptoms of COVID-19 or are in isolation. See Supporting Students with Excused Absences due to COVID. Instructors may choose to record class sessions. See also Policy on Class Recordings and Guidelines for Recording Classes.

Instructional Spaces

Are masks required in classrooms?

Masks are not required in classroomsbut the University recommends masking in areas where distancing is not possible when transmission levels are elevated. Instructors and staff cannot require masking of others unless they are directed to do so as part of an approved disability accommodation through the Office of Equity or AccessibleNU. Those who are exposed to COVID-19 or who have been cleared to end isolation must wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g. N95) around others indoors through the 10th day after exposure or first positive test result.

Is social distancing required in classrooms?

In accordance with guidance from the CDC, state and local agencies, Northwestern does not require social distancing in indoor spaces including classrooms.

Should instructors open the windows of their classroom for ventilation?

In line with federal and state-recommended industry guidance, Facilities is performing consistent preventative maintenance updates on the University’s ventilation systems, while simultaneously operating those systems as close as possible to their operating specifications. This best ensures proper air filtration, appropriate outdoor air quantities, sufficient ventilation, and specified air flow. In buildings with HVAC systems, Facilities does not recommend opening windows. In buildings without HVAC systems, measures can be taken to increase outside air and air circulation. Please view the Space Modifications webpage for more information about classroom ventilation.

How should I conduct office hours?

Instructors may hold in-person office hours and/or host Zoom office hours.

Student Requests for Accommodations

How should instructors respond if a student asks if they can participate remotely in an in-person class for the entire term?

Instructors should not provide remote access to in-person classes for individual students for the term. Students seeking a disability-related accommodation should reach out to Accessible NU. Students who have an excused absence due to COVID-19 should follow class policy stated in the syllabus during this limited time.

What happens if a student in my class requests a disability-related accommodation with AccessibleNU?

If a student is determined to be eligible for a disability-related accommodation(s) from AccessibleNU, the instructor will receive an accommodation notification email from an AccessibleNU advisor. The accommodation notification email will list the approved accommodations for your course. More information, including access to the ANU Faculty Portal that lists accommodations for your course, can be found here.

Does Northwestern offer remote exam proctoring for students in isolation?

Students who must move to on-campus Isolation Housing during the Fall Quarter 2022 have the option of taking proctored, in-person exams during their stay. Most students living in on-campus housing are in the first or second year of their undergraduate studies, thus this option will primarily benefit first-year and sophomore students. This service is available only to students isolating on campus as COVID-positive students living elsewhere may not travel to campus while isolating. Steps for a student to request taking a proctored exam and for instructors to submit the exam are outlined on the Undergraduate Advising website. Contact undergradeducation@northwestern.edu with any questions.

Can any student contact me to schedule a proctored exam?

Only undergraduates living in on-campus Isolation Housing are eligible to participate.

Do I have to agree to the student taking a proctored exam?

No. However, all instructors are asked to provide a way for students to continue to engage in their classes while they are isolating.

How to I request my student take a proctored exam?

When a student contacts you to let you know they are in Isolation Housing and feel well enough to take the exam, they will ask you to submit the 2022-23 Isolation Housing Proctored Exam Submission Form. See the Undergraduate Advising website for a description of the complete process.

What is the proctoring environment?

Proctored exams occur in Isolation Housing at 1835 Hinman in a designated room with the proctor, a trained member of the COVID-19 Response Team, having full view of the student taking the exam.

How will I receive the completed exam?

If the exam is digital, the student or the COVID-19 Response Team will deliver the completed exam to the instructor electronically. If it is a paper exam, the proctor or the Office of the Provost will deliver the exam to the faculty department.

Student Engagement and Mental Health

A student in my class is struggling academically. Are there resources I can recommend to the student?

Academic Support and Learning Advancement offers a variety of resources to support students academically including peer-led study groups and individual academic coaching. The Writing Place offers both in-person and remote peer writing consultations.

Who should an instructor contact if they need assistance with a student who has not engaged in class for over a week and is unresponsive to emails?

Instructors who have concerns about a student’s academic progress in their class should reach out to the Key Advisor Contact for the student’s school. Additionally, the Faculty and Adviser Action Guide provides direction for whom to contact based on various categories of concern regarding undergraduate student behavior. You can find more information, including a video presentation and other useful resources, on the Undergraduate Advising website.

What can instructors do to support students’ mental health?

Instructors can indicate their support for student mental health by including the syllabus statement on student wellness. Instructors also can provide a link on their syllabus to these student health and wellness resources. Instructors who want to share a concern about individual students who may be experiencing unforeseen life events, unexpected illness or personal or family crises should reach out the Key Advisor Contact for the student’s school.

Faculty Resources

How is Northwestern supporting instructors?

Northwestern has developed a webpage detailing information about Northwestern’s actions and supports for faculty and staff. Faculty can find information on Work/Life Resources and the Faculty Work/Life and Family Resources brochure.

What options are available if I need to temporarily care for a dependent for COVID-19-related reasons? (E.g. school, classroom or care center closure, dependent caregiver tests positive, child required to stay home due to COVID-19 symptoms, etc.)

Staff employees may use personal floating holidays and vacation time to care for dependents during this temporary care period. Effective Oct. 1, 2021 and until further notice, staff members also may use Incidental Sick Time for this reason. 

If the work responsibilities can be sufficiently performed from home, the employee may seek permission from their manager to work fully remote during the temporary care period. If approval is granted, it may be rescinded by the manager at any time.

Instructors who are teaching an in-person class may teach up to 10% of their class sessions remotely. Should exceptional circumstances arise that require additional remote class sessions, the instructor should contact their department or dean’s office.

Northwestern may require documentation to verify school/care center closures. Managers and school leaders are encouraged to provide flexibility for these instances; however, the Staff Handbook polices related to attendance, unscheduled absences and pattern absences and Incidental Sick Time use for staff absences still apply.