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Expectations for Visitors to Campus

Last updated March 23, 2021

All visitors to Northwestern’s campus must adhere to the University’s safety protocols and follow general guidance that aligns with the nature of their reason for visiting campus as outlined below. A visitor is any individual who is not a currently enrolled student in good standing, a registered participant in Northwestern programming for pre-collegiate students or active employee for the University.

Northwestern faculty, students or staff who invite visitors to campus are considered “hosts” and should support visitors in adhering to expectations, including guidance on community behaviors, gatherings, meetings and events. To comply the University’s public health efforts, all visitors must follow established safety protocols, including:

  • Masking in campus public and shared environments, including outdoor spaces and instructional spaces
  • Maintaining social distance
  • Adhering to maximum capacity limits
  • Handwashing
  • Monitoring symptoms and avoiding campus if you are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms

This guidance defines various categories of permitted visitors, as well as those who are not allowed, and outlines general guidance by group as well as responsibility for contact tracing and reporting. Some visitors, such as contractors and individuals on campus for business or academic purposes, are required to register as a visitor. Others, such as members of the public visiting campus for 30 minutes or less, are not required to register. Northwestern provides guidelines for additional coordination with sponsoring departments that plan to host special events. The expectations below provide specific details for these scenarios.

The following categories of visitors are not permitted

  • Minors who are not enrolled Northwestern students are not allowed to participate in residential or overnight programs.
  • Minors not affiliated with an approved program, such as unofficial interns in a lab, must register through Northwestern’s Youth on Campus program to be allowed on campus.

The following categories of visitors are permitted

Outdoor and limited use of indoor public spaces (30 minutes or less)

  • Visitors and members of the general public are welcome to enjoy outdoor public spaces. Members of the general public and visitors entering indoor spaces for durations less than 30 minutes for purposes such as deliveries, bank transactions, and food and retail purchases are welcome on our campuses without prior approval or registration. This does not include members of the public attending special events, meetings or other University business-related purposes.
  • Members of the public who are onsite for University business purposes for more than 30 minutes should refer to the “Visitors for academic, business or research purposes” section below.

Contractors and service providers

  • Contractors whose physical presence is required on campus to perform certain services must adhere to the University’s Return to Campus Policy.
  • All contractor and service provider visits must be coordinated with the appropriate Northwestern host with advance notice and approval via the Risk Management Visitors website.
  • Faculty and staff who invite contractors and service providers to campus should ensure registration with the University’s Contractor Safety Program.
  • Contractors must report any COVID-19 diagnosis if they were in close contact (less than 6 feet, for 15 minutes or more) with any Northwestern community member within two days prior to diagnosis or isolation by contacting covidcasemangement@northwestern.edu.

Visitors for academic, business or research purposes

  • Visitors whose physical presence is required to provide or perform certain services such as guest lecturer, interviews, meeting attendance or research activities must adhere to the University’s Return to Campus Policy.
  • Community members should provide access only to individual visitors who have received approval and attested to their health condition via the Risk Management Visitors website. Visitors must report a COVID-19 diagnosis if they were in close contact (less than 6 feet, for 15 minutes or more) with any Northwestern community member within two days prior to diagnosis or isolation by contacting covidcasemanagment@northwestern.edu.

Research participants and clinical patients

  • Research participants and clinical patients are expected to follow masking, social distancing and hygiene protocols.
  • Research participants and clinical patients are expected to follow all COVID-19 protocols established by their applicable research study and clinic.

University-sponsored events and programs

  • Community members and invited guests attending University-sponsored events and activities such as athletic competitions, golf clinics/camps, campus tours for prospective undergraduate and graduate students, athletics recruiting visit, private music lessons or visiting lecturer are welcome on campus.
  • University special events such as homecoming, commencement and other celebrations are permitted within state and local capacity guidance, but they must be coordinated on a case-by-case basis.
  • The sponsoring department is responsible for event registration that will support necessary reporting to local health department or University-led contact tracing efforts.
  • The sponsoring department must include COVID-19 safety and health guidelines during participant registration, and include Northwestern’s guidelines in its agreement.

External organizations hosting events on university property

  • Sponsoring external organizations that host events on University property such as weddings, religious services, voting and summer camps are required to follow all contractual facility agreements.
  • Sponsoring external organizations are responsible for notifying local health departments of any COVID-19 outbreaks and adherence to state and local health and safety guidelines.

Schools and departmental units are allowed, if approved by the Office of the Provost, to provide more restrictive guidance in the context of unique space or program requirements. It is recommended that visitors confirm access requirements with the school/unit administration or dean’s office for special events or building access.