Northwestern announces “Wildcat Wellness” guidelines, new COVID-19 testing partnership with Color

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Daily file photo by Catherine Buchaniec

The Weber Arch. The University announced five new testing centers in Evanston in a Tuesday email.

Sneha Dey, Print Managing Editor

On Wednesday, University administrators announced guidelines around the modified quarantine period students are expected to follow upon their return to campus.

The two-stage quarantine period, which applies to students living on and off campus, will last Jan. 3 to 17. In the first stage, students should remain in their residences until they receive two negative tests. After that, students can leave their residences for a narrow set of allowed activities: health and safety tasks, grocery and supply services, academic preparations, outdoor activity and essential work.

The email said students can expect a “robust set of synchronous and asynchronous programming” during the quarantine period, including remote study sessions.

In late October, administrators said all undergraduates would be allowed to return to campus Winter Quarter. This fall, a few hundred students who met certain criteria were allowed to live in on campus housing. The announcement came during a period of steady case rise in Evanston and in Cook County. As of Wednesday, the city of Evanston has 351 active cases of COVID-19 and a testing positivity rate of 3.7%.

In Wednesday’s email, University administrators said they will closely follow the positivity rates, and could reinstate a modified quarantine “at any point” in the quarter.

Northwestern also announced it will partner with Color, a health technology company based in Burlingame, Calif., to provide mandatory weekly testing to students during the Winter Quarter. Testing in the fall was supported by genetics company Tempus.

If students do not participate in weekly testing, they can expect several reminders before they are referred to the Office of Community Standards for disciplinary action.

“Through the hard work of all of our community members, we were able to keep our positivity rate substantially below that of our surrounding communities,” University administrators wrote in the email. “But with COVID-19 surging locally and nationally, it remains important to continue our testing program and adhere strongly to our standards for face coverings, social distancing and limiting gatherings.”

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