Administrators, experts address Northwestern community questions in return to campus panel


Daily file photo by Binah Schatsky

All students — regardless of vaccination status — will be required to complete two COVID-19 tests within a week of their arrival on campus.

Grace Wu, Copy Chief

Northwestern administrators and a Feinberg professor addressed community-submitted questions regarding the return to campus in a Tuesday webinar. 

The panelists addressed COVID-19 testing on campus, vaccinations and quarantine and isolation policies, student experience — especially for freshmen and sophomores, academic experience and student wellness. 

“Northwestern is constantly monitoring pandemic conditions both on-campus and around us, and we are very much committed to adjusting our protocols immediately when we feel it is warranted,” Renee Cherubin, NU’s director of COVID-19 testing operations, said. “We will, as we always have done with all COVID protocols, continue to follow guidance from local public health departments.” 

Over 94 percent of undergraduate students and roughly 90 percent of graduate students have submitted documentation of complete vaccination, Cherubin said. The University accepts vaccinations of any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. 

On Aug. 18, U.S. health officials announced that, pending approval, booster shots will be available starting Sept. 20. Given this timeline, the University will have the ability to provide booster shots through Northwestern University Health Service, Cherubin said. NUHS also has the capacity to vaccinate international students who filed an access-related exemption over the summer, according to Cherubin.

Students who do not report their vaccinations or request an exemption will experience significant limits to their involvement on campus, including restricted access. Those who don’t indicate any vaccination status to NU will not be able to register for classes, move into on-campus housing or access their meal plan or any University facilities, Cherubin said. 

Unvaccinated students who are non-compliant with regulations, such as weekly testing, will be referred to the Office of Community Standards and could be suspended or expelled from the University, she added.

The University plans on conducting arrival testing for all students — one COVID-19 test the day of arrival and a second test three to four days later. School officials will then use arrival testing data to determine if there is a need for surveillance testing, Cherubin said. 

If there is a spike in cases, the University will monitor the increase, whether transmission is related to on-campus activity and changes in medical implications with new variants, Cherubin said. The University may then revise its protocols, including by increasing surveillance testing among vaccinated people, changing campus density and social distancing protocols and — if conditions escalate — implementing a wellness period to “reset campus health.” 

The University has made efforts to provide opportunities for students to connect with one another and balance wellness and the stress of being a student during the pandemic, administrators said.

Vaccinated students will have opportunities to visit students in other residential halls, according to Carlos Gonzalez, the executive director of Residential Services. Unvaccinated students will be restricted to designated common spaces in other residential halls. 

The deadline to drop a quarter class is now in Week Six, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Miriam Sherin said. The undergraduate deadline to change grading formats on student transcripts, in classes that offer that option, is in Week Eight, she added.

“Our hope really is that (this discussion) showcased the care that we have for you, your students’ well-being and their experience while they’re here, and that it brought you some comfort,” Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, vice president for student affairs, said. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the deadlines to drop classes and change grading formats on student transcripts. The deadlines are now in Weeks Six and Eight, respectively. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories:

Northwestern to require entry testing upon fall return to campus 

Administrators, experts talk Northwestern’s return to campus efforts in community discussion