University provides updates on COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and safety provisions for Fall Quarter


Daily file photo by Catherine Buchaneic

A sign posted by the Lakefill. Northwestern expects community members arriving back on campus to observe CDC guidelines for social distancing.

Isabelle Sarraf, Copy Chief

Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty sent an email to the Northwestern community Thursday evening outlining health and safety protocols for the fall.

Students, faculty and staff will be expected to complete a form that monitors symptoms prior to entering on-campus areas or attending in-person activities or classes. The form also asks community members if they have traveled outside of the United States within two weeks or been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

If anyone exhibits a known symptom of COVID-19 or tests positive for COVID-19, they will be expected to submit a self-isolation report.

Hagerty wrote that faculty and students will be required to wear masks in classrooms. Students will receive a kit upon their return to campus that will include reusable and disposable masks, sanitizer and thermometers.

The University is partnering with Northwestern Medicine, Hagerty wrote, to provide on-campus testing capabilities. All students are required to test negative for COVID-19 before attending in-person activities or classes. Those in residence halls will participate in recurring testing and faculty, staff and off-campus students will also be tested at random.

Northwestern University Health Service and Environmental Health and Safety have been working on contact tracing efforts, Hagerty wrote, which will be strengthened in the fall. For example, seating charts in classrooms, event ticketing and workplace calendars will be used to identify individuals that may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The University plans to launch a symptom tracking app to aid with the contact tracing process.

“There is still much unknown about the prevalence of asymptomatic positive individuals, and members of our community may return to campus unknowingly carrying the virus,” Hagerty wrote. “We therefore strongly encourage all students to self-quarantine at home for the two weeks prior to coming to campus.”

Hagerty said students who return to campus from abroad should arrive early to set aside time to quarantine prior to the start of the quarter, per current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements.
Hagerty wrote that NU will maintain dedicated quarantine spaces for on-campus students, while off-campus students, faculty and staff will be required to do so at home.

The University has already begun redesigning classrooms, dining, administrative and other spaces to adhere to social distancing requirements. Buildings will also have signage outlining transit patterns and occupancy capacity. There will also be self-hygiene stations placed throughout campus.

Over the coming weeks, Hagerty wrote that the community will receive more information on course modality and registration, academic programming, student housing, on-campus environments and more protocols to prepare for the fall.

“Returning to campus means a steadfast commitment from each of us to safeguard our own health and that of those around us,” Hagerty wrote. “If you do not take this seriously, you jeopardize all of Northwestern’s community.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @isabellesarraf

Related Stories:

A guide to social distancing on campus

University to implement single-person on-campus housing; Wildcat Welcome to be “reimagined”

University announces six-phase plan for a return to campus