Northwestern to bring underclassmen to campus this winter


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

The Weber Arch. On Thursday, Northwestern announced plans for an accelerator for research and entrepreneurship in Downtown Evanston.

Isabelle Sarraf, Campus Editor

In a Wednesday email, University President Morton Schapiro announced plans to allow all undergraduates on campus this winter after most underclassmen were barred this fall.

Northwestern’s campus-wide positivity rate and overall experience this fall bolstered the decision to bring back all undergraduate students to campus in the winter, he said. For most of the fall, the positivity rate has been below .6 percent, but this week the University has seen an uptick to .92 percent. Schapiro added that the positive cases have mainly been among small clusters of students resulting from off-campus gatherings.

Across Illinois, case numbers are continuing to rise — including the city of Evanston, which recorded its highest single-day case increase on Saturday. But Schapiro said as long as the positivity rate “stabilizes” and doesn’t continue to increase, the University will “continue to support the COVID-related needs” of the NU community.

All students who choose to come back to campus will be required to adhere to daily symptom checks and ongoing testing. The University also plans to repeat its modified quarantine, Wildcat Wellness, at the start of Winter Quarter from Jan. 3 to 17. After the quarantine period, the University will open limited in-person activities, including a small number of classes and student activities such as club and intramural sports.

Though most academic and student services will be conducted remotely, Schapiro wrote that study spaces and the Norris University Center will be open. The University is working to “modestly” increase the number of in-person classes, he wrote.

The University plans to increase the number and frequency of testing during the winter, including weekly testing for undergraduates and weekly or biweekly testing for graduate students.

On-campus move-in for undergraduates will be Jan. 4 to 9, but Schapiro wrote students should limit the number of personal items they bring in case of any closures. Fraternity and sorority houses will have the option to open this winter, he added, with safety measures in place.

“The evolving nature of the pandemic means we must remain flexible,” Schapiro said. “Whatever our path, it has never been more important that each of us adhere to health and safety protocols, so we can build on the successes we have had so far. Thank you for your partnership as we navigate an academic year unlike any before.”

Nine days before students were set to move back to campus in the fall, senior administrators reversed their decision to let underclassmen live in dorms, saying they wanted to reduce density for on-campus housing and allow for more quarantine areas, among other reasons.

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