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Student Experience

Posted 7/31/2020

1. What will the first two weeks be like after I move in?

Northwestern is requiring all students living on campus or in the Evanston area to participate in what we are branding as “Wildcat Wellness,” a two-week period from September 6-20 that is similar to the previously-issued Illinois “stay at home” order, but not quite a complete quarantine. The goals of Wildcat Wellness are to:

  • Reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19;
  • Help students coming to the Evanston community for the Fall be better positioned to start the quarter healthy and well;
  • Create a clear and equitable way for our campus community to adhere to CDC and local travel quarantine guidance for the local community, and
  • Be a responsible member of our neighboring communities.
  • Give our students, faculty, and staff the best possible conditions for a successful start to the fall quarter.

If you arrive to Evanston after September 9, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon your arrival.

2. Which classes will be offered remotely or in-person?

Most Fall Quarter classes will be remote, either asynchronous or synchronous. There will also be some hybrid and face-to-face classes. Read about the different modes of instruction that will be offered. The full class schedule will be available in CAESAR the week of August 10. Initial percentages for undergraduate classroom modalities are approximately 86% remote, 12.5% hybrid, and 1.5% in-person. Visit our Class Schedules and Registration page for full class schedule publication timelines.

3. What are the community expectations around COVID-19?

It is critical that we each take responsibility for maintaining the health of our community. As a condition of returning to campus, students, faculty and staff are required to follow policies, protocols and guidance designed to protect everyone’s health.

All students must:

  • Complete Return to Campus training, which also is required for faculty and staff.
  • Review and agree to a revised set of community expectations in CAESAR in order to register for Fall classes. These expectations include:
    • Abiding by safety or hygiene standards recommended by Northwestern, the Illinois Department of Public Health, or the CDC, including standards regarding face coverings, social distancing, limiting gatherings, hand washing and sanitizing, and cleaning shared surfaces.
    • Complying with University testing and contact tracing efforts.
    • Completing a daily symptom-monitoring form.
    • Following University guidance regarding quarantining and self-isolating.
    • Acknowledging that activities may be cancelled or postponed, and courses with in-person components might have to shift to online delivery at some point

Community members who violate these expectations may face disciplinary actions. For students, this could mean a range of responses from a reminder in cases of unintentionally not following guidance to separation from the University in severe cases of repeat offenses of intentionally disregarding expectations.

Specific information about training and community expectations will be emailed to students directly.

4. What will on-campus housing be like?

We understand that the residential experience is important for our students, as is the community experience for our off-campus students in Evanston and Chicago.

On-campus: Residential life will be different from in the past.  As we prioritize the health of the campus community the following are required in on-campus residential buildings:

  • Students must wear a mask when they are not in their own room.
  • No guests will be allowed in students’ rooms.
  • Common spaces will have limited furniture and reduced capacity.
  • Students must observe social distancing when outside of their rooms.
  • In cases of positive COVID-19 tests, or when a student is identified through contact tracing, on-campus students will be moved to isolation or quarantine housing, with monitoring and meals provided during that time.
  • Move-in for undergraduate students will be September 6-9. Students will be asked to bring a minimum number of personal items, in the event there is a need to close campus quickly during the quarter. More information on this process will be sent to undergraduate students by August 7.
  • Move-in for graduate students will occur between mid-August and mid-September. More information on this process will be sent to graduate students by August 7.
  • Students will receive additional information about their initial COVID-19 test.

Residential Services sent an email earlier this week extending the on-campus housing cancellation deadline to August 5 at 12pm CT to allow additional time for your decision-making.

5. What will off-campus living be like?

Off-campus: We understand that the community experience is important our off-campus students in Evanston and Chicago.

  • Northwestern is asking students who are living off-campus in or near Evanston to be in the area by September 9 in order to complete the modified quarantine period before in-person class content begins on September 21. If you arrive to Evanston after September 9, your two-week Wildcat Wellness begins upon your arrival date and will extend beyond September 21.
  • Off-campus students will receive additional information about COVID-19 testing. 
  • Students who test positive for COVID-19, or who are identified through contact tracing, will be required to self-isolate or quarantine in their off-campus housing or another location. The University will provide health monitoring to off-campus students in isolation or quarantine, but will not provide housing or dining for those purposes.
  • For those who live off-campus in Chicago, you are expected to adhere to the city’s COVID-19 guidelines.

6. What will my dining options be?

Your nutritional health is important, and our Northwestern Dining team is here for you.

  • Dining options for the fall will primarily be grab-and-go with limited in-person and socially distant seating available.
  • Know that facilities and hours of operation have been adjusted and offerings changed in to meet safety protocols.
  • More information can be found on the Dining

 For our Chicago locations – including Starbucks, Slice, and Harry's – these outlets will be open for limited hours on Monday-Friday and support mobile ordering.

7. Will Northwestern have programs and activities outside of the classroom?

Yes! Campus Life is actively preparing student organizations guidelines for meetings and programs, and the following are some examples of how we are working to keep all students connected to organizations and activities:

  • Northwestern’s Student Organization and Activities office will host a virtual student organizations fair, and many registered student organizations will host interest meetings virtually.
  • In addition to virtual events, we anticipate that student organizations will hold some in-person events, subject to University guidelines. For approval for any in-person events, student organizers for meetings and events must: submit a health and safety risk mitigation plan, take attendance and submit rosters for contact tracing purposes, and create pathways for remote, virtual participation.
  • Some University traditions and campus activities will continue in a modified or hybrid format with a mix of virtual and in-person experiences after the first week of classes. Expect weekly virtual and modified in-person programs in common spaces such as in residential buildings.
  • Campus Inclusion and Community, and the offices within CIC (Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Enrichment Services and Social Justice Education) will continue to support students with programming, resource support, and educational training and workshops that will be primarily remote, with some limited in-person offerings.
  • Norris University Center will re-imagine its physical spaces to serve academic and co-curricular events. The game room, recreational art programs, and mini-courses will be modified.

8. What will my experience be like as a new student?

We are excited to welcome our newest Wildcats to Northwestern. The following resources are dedicated to incoming undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Undergraduate Students:
    • Our webinar series for parents/families of new first year students is ongoing.
    • Northwestern’s Purple Prep program is available for undergraduate first year and transfer students, which provides a checklist of important to-dos and additional details about transitioning to the University community.
    • Wildcat Welcome, our undergraduate orientation program from September 6-15, will be virtual and provide opportunities for new students to learn about Northwestern.

Graduate Students: Information about your orientation will come from your program, department, or school. Join your community through informative sessions related to onboarding procedures, your career, and getting the most from your Northwestern experience.

9. Can my student organization meet and put on events?

It is anticipated that registered student organizations will continue to operate primarily remotely from the Spring, with occasional in-person offerings adhering to the University's meeting and event guidelines. For approval for any in-person events, student organizers for meetings and events must: submit a health and safety risk mitigation plan, take attendance and submit rosters for contact tracing purposes, and create pathways for remote, virtual participation. It is important that opportunities for engagement are accessible for students who do not choose to return to campus. Northwestern expects to offer a wide array of interactive events to enrich the student experience.

10. How can I join a student organization?

Registered student organizations contribute to a vibrant Northwestern community. Opportunities for recruitment and participation will be offered in a virtual or, on a case-by-case basis, in-person with reduced capacity. Northwestern’s Student Organization and Activities office will host a virtual student organizations fair, and many registered student organizations will host virtual interest meetings.  More information about fraternity and sorority recruitment will be available soon. 

11. Can my student group travel?

Likely not, but plans for travel and competition are still being determined based on guidance by public health officials. 

12. Which student services will be open or available on campus?

Northwestern continues to be here to support our students, and help you to thrive. As noted above, most student support services will be remote with limited face to face opportunities.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) continues to be available for students, and is offering comprehensive tele-mental health services, including 24/7 access to crisis support, initial consultations, virtual gatherings, and individual counseling. CAPS will offer very limited in-office appointments for specific critical needs. CAPS also provides access to Welltrack, an on-line mental health platform accessible to all students to use at any time, and a robust referral network of providers in the community
  • University Health Services, in Evanston and Chicago, will continue to be fully operational with both in-person and tele-health services.
  • The Undergraduate and Graduate Financial Aid will be available virtually to answer questions and provide guidance. Available work-study positions are posted for qualifying students this fall, including remote opportunities. Emergency aid programs will be available to help undergraduate students with emergency or unanticipated expenses that occur throughout the academic year.
  • Please check the COVID-19 Student Experience website for more information about how other services will be delivered.

13. I have a network of friends where I am currently, and I am nervous about finding community if I return to campus. What should I do?

The University plans to welcome students back in the fall and is excited to do so; however, it will also be a new and different learning environment that is largely remote that may continue to change and evolve as the academic year progresses. Many faculty and staff will continue to work remotely into the fall quarter. Similarly, the return of students for face-to-face courses will vary according to school, program and personal circumstances. Reflect on your expectations, anticipated challenges, and support networks to make an informed decision that is best for you. Consult with your loved ones. If you do not plan to return to campus for in-person activity, we will ask the time zone from which you plan to study. You can update this information as often as you need. We will use this data to inform the plans of campus service providers and others, such as advisors, who will support you as you continue your studies.