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Core Responsibilities

Social and Physical Distancing

While there are no requirements for distancing on campus, increasing the physical distance between individuals can reduce transmission of the virus. Depending on the context, social distancing may be achieved by working or learning on a remote or “blended” basis, limiting meetings and gatherings, postponing non-essential meetings and events, reducing occupant density through staggered or extended schedules and shifts or access control, removing seats from shared spaces, modifying circulation patterns and sitting areas inside and outside of buildings, providing signage, touchless alternatives, and/or physical barriers and/or partitions in public areas such as elevators, lobbies, classrooms, cafeterias, retail spaces, and densely populated areas. 

Face Coverings and Face Masks

When used properly, face coverings and face masks can reduce transmission of the virus. In accordance with CDC guidelines, state and local orders, it is required that community members wear face masks in all indoor public and shared environments on campus, and in alignment with other guidance about the use of masks on campus. The latter includes when in densely populated offices and classrooms, common areas, restrooms, elevators, or University-provided group/mass transit. Please also follow appropriate safety guidelines in laboratories with hazardous materials. 

Enhanced Cleaning Protocols and Good Personal Hygiene

Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is a critical aspect of reopening our campus. All employees are required to keep desk and work surfaces empty of paper or other clutter to enable thorough cleaning. Employees should regularly wipe down their personal work areas and frequently touched objects, such as workstations/desks, keyboards, keyboard-enabled conference speakers, and telephones. 

Across the University, community members are expected to maintain responsible personal hygiene: hands should be washed frequently and faces should be covered when sneezing or coughing (even when wearing a mask). Limiting the touching of shared surfaces reduces the spread of the virus.

Health Monitoring

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of exposure, community members are expected to regularly monitor their personal health status. Community members should not come to campus if they are showing symptoms such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Individuals are expected to self-isolate if they are in non-incidental direct contact with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or if they have fever or symptoms consistent with any respiratory infection. Staff and faculty are empowered to equitably enforce policies that support protecting the health of the broader Northwestern community. All community members are required to report if they test positive for COVID-19, if they develop symptoms consistent therewith, or are self-isolating due to suspected or known exposure to COVID-19. You can report online

See guidelines for health monitoring.


In concert with physical and operational modifications, units must develop a communication plan for providing essential information and training to community members and visitors who will occupy and visit their facilities. Any local guidance developed by schools or units should be done in consultation with the respective Return to Campus subgroups. 

Protecting the Vulnerable and Community

All of our personal situations will be unique. Some members of our community may be more vulnerable to complications of COVID-19 that increase the risk of infection or the severity of symptoms. Those who have questions or need accommodations are encouraged to contact their Human Resources representative, their Dean’s Office, the Office of Equity, The Graduate School, or their Student Affairs office.

Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the alteration of patterns of work, transportation, family support, child-care, travel, and other fundamental modes of life, we expect our leaders, managers, supervisors, faculty members and researchers to model flexibility and foster a community of wellness and awareness to the maximum extent possible.