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Winter Quarter 2021

1. With the increase in students on campus, will there also be an increase in testing? 

Undergraduate students will continue to be required to be tested weekly, regardless of whether they live on-campus or off-campus. Because the number of students returning to Evanston will be higher, the number of tests will increase as well.

Graduate students will also be required to be tested either weekly or bi-weekly, depending on their program and how much time they spend on campus. Most graduate students will be tested weekly if they plan to be on campus.

2. Will I need to complete an at-home testing kit before arriving to campus?  

At this time, no. But we will be revisiting this decision in conjunction with our experience closer to the end of the quarter and will communicate if this is required.

3. What happens if there is a spike or surge of cases in Evanston or connected to the University? 

Northwestern tracks a number of internal and external metrics to determine whether we can continue to safely operate campus without further changes. If there is a spike or surge in cases specific to Northwestern, a number of steps might be taken: 

  • Increased focused testing on the population in question
  • Changes to guidelines or policies for activities or density on campus
  • A two-week pause in campus activities, similar to the Wildcat Wellness or a shelter-at-home period.

4. Will there be any makeup in-person Wildcat Welcome programming for first year students?

After experiencing a virtual component of some class traditions during Wildcat Welcome in September, a capstone event is planned to occur for the class of 2024 and new transfer students at the end of their first year with Northwestern, as health and safety protocols allow. The capstone event will include an in-person version of March Through the Arch and a class photo in June 2021. This event will be streamed for family members to view from home. The date and time of this event will be announced at the beginning of the spring 2021 quarter.  

Students will take part in virtual welcome programming during the Wildcat Wellness period. Due to health and safety measures, no large-scale programs will occur during the winter quarter. 

5. What impact does this have on international students?

The US government Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has not yet released guidance for the winter term. As soon as we have more information from the U.S. government, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will update all first- and second-year international students with a Northwestern-issued I-20. 

For now, all international students who plan to be in the United States for winter term should plan to enroll in no more than one remote class (for most students this will mean that they will need at least two in person and/or hybrid classes for the winter quarter).

International students can remain outside of the United States for the winter term and take a fully remote course schedule. If SEVP does not update its guidance, OISS will terminate your SEVIS record for authorized early withdraw. OISS advisors will then work with you to either reactivate your SEVIS record or issue a new I-20 when you are ready to return to the United States and continue your studies in person.    

As always, prior to travel into the United States, please ensure that you have a valid I-20 (with a travel signature if you are a continuing student), a valid F-1 visa stamp (unless you are a citizen of Canada), and a passport valid for 6 additional months.  If you do not have these items and plan to enter the US before the winter term, please contact your OISS advisor right away. 

If you have any questions at all, please reach out directly to your OISS advisor. 

6. Will Northwestern need to increase dining and residence hall staff to keep up with the increase in the student population?

We anticipate the number of housing and dining staff will need to be increased for an increase in student population. Currently, we are operating 2 of 4 dining halls and only 1 residential retail location. How many students choose to return to campus for winter quarter will determine the additional staff needed to meet the dining needs. 

7. If I’m a first- or second-year student in the Chicago area, may I continue to live at home and come to campus for in-person activities?

Students may elect to live at home and come to campus, but they will need to be tested as required for all students who live off-campus but come to campus for any reason. 

8. What will be the total occupancy on campus in the Winter?

We anticipate having between 2400 and 2800 undergraduate students living on campus in the winter term. 

9. What steps have been taken to increase quarantine space on campus?

Following the guidance of our medical partners, we have increased the number of quarantine and isolation rooms available to on-campus students in accordance with the modeling for the number of students anticipated to be living on-campus. 

10. Will off-campus students be permitted to access on-campus quarantine spaces?

Following the guidance of the Illinois Department of Higher Education, we will not be providing quarantine or isolation housing for students living off-campus.  Students should plan accordingly, especially if you have a pre-existing or high-risk medical condition.  As with all students living on or off-campus who subscribe to the NUHS, medical consultation will be available.