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The definitions contained herein have been specifically developed to address a phased return of faculty, staff and certain students to Northwestern campuses as a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As this policy is tied directly to a specific set of conditions, in the event of inconsistency between the terms and/or definitions of any institutional policy and this policy, the terms and definitions of this policy shall prevail in connection with any COVID-19 return to campus matters.

Essential On-site Staff (“EOS”)

Positions that are deemed essential to be physically present at one or more locations within the perimeters of the University’s campuses or physically present, on a continuous or intermittent basis, at other University owned or leased facilities during a campus emergency or crisis, including a closure or a partial or total shift to virtual operations, pursuant to the policy on Employees in Essential Functions and Positions. Essential On-site Staff preserve and protect the security, safety and integrity of members of the community, the physical infrastructure, and the integrity of the University Critical Infrastructure. Essential On-site Staff include staff who are required to work in any location designated as an Emergency Operations Center.

University Critical Infrastructure (“UCI”)

Systems and assets, whether of a physical or digital nature, that ensure the viability and continuity of the University’s operations.

Critical Staff (“CS”)

Individuals in positions other than those of Essential On-site Staff, who by reason of subject matter expertise or functional responsibilities, are required to be physically present to complete, support, and/or oversee completion of activities that support important, but not essential, campus operations. Critical Staff may be expected to be on-site on an intermittent basis to provide onsite support for campus facilities, research, or core financial and human resources operations.

Non-Remote Staff (“NRS”)

Individuals in positions other than EOS whose core duties require in-person interaction or service delivery at University facilities, and which cannot be carried out (in whole or in substantial part) through remote or virtual means.

All Other Staff and Faculty (“AOSF”)

Individuals other than EOS, CS, or NRS, who can perform their duties in whole or in substantial part (i.e., at least 75% of core duties) through remote or virtual means.  AOSF include positions at all pay grades and levels of authority. As such, these may include, without limitation, individual contributors, temporary or contingent workers, supervisors, managers, directors, faculty, administrators and executives.


Person(s) or company(ies) that are not University employees who undertake(s) the provision of materials, labor, or services pursuant to a purchase order or service agreement with the University. Depending upon the nature of the goods or services they provide, Contractor(s) may be classified by the University’s Chief Risk and Compliance Officer or the relevant Vice President (or their designee) as EOS, CS, NRS, or AOSF for purposes of the application of this policy.