Northwestern’s COVID-19 on-campus requirements, activities: Explained


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Students await COVID-19 testing in a long line around the Donald P. Jacobs Center. The University has implemented several public health guidelines in accordance with state and federal guidance to maximize campus activities.

Angeli Mittal, Design Editor

As Northwestern transitions back to a pre-pandemic campus experience, the University has implemented several public health policies in accordance with Illinois and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, like mandated indoor masking, COVID-19 vaccination proof or approved exemption and entry testing.

The Daily broke down everything you need to know about these updated guidelines and changes to campus activities.


Students, faculty and staff at NU were required to either have an approved exemption or present proof of being fully vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration or World Health Organization approved COVID-19 vaccine, including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and AstraZeneca. 

The University also gave students the option of requesting a temporary exception, whether students were partially-vaccinated, contracted the infection or received antibody therapy in the last 90 days or had limited access to a COVID-19 vaccine. This exemption provided a one-month window up to Oct. 4 to meet the requirement.

Students were also able to request a permanent exemption from the vaccination requirement with valid documentation with reasons ranging from religious to personal health conflicts. 

Those non-compliant with this requirement cannot partake in campus-related activities like class registration, housing and campus facilities. Unvaccinated students, faculty and staff are still able to get vaccinated through NU’s online form or at retail pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS.


Regardless of vaccination status, students were required to test and receive two negative COVID-19 results — one as soon as they arrived on campus and another prior to the start of classes.

After completing the entry testing requirement, only unvaccinated students are required to partake in continual testing twice a week, three days apart. Testing is still available throughout the quarter for vaccinated students. Unvaccinated individuals are required to complete the daily survey on the Symptom Tracker app for COVID-19 symptom monitoring.

Testing for asymptomatic? students, faculty and staff takes place at the Donald P. Jacobs Center. Individuals who have been contact traced or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing at Searle Hall.

The Jacobs Center offers rapid antigen tests to campus visitors as well as PCR tests. 

Quarantine and Isolation Procedures

The procedures for contact tracing differ depending on vaccination status. Those who are fully vaccinated or tested positive within the last 90 days are not required to quarantine if contact traced. However, they must receive a PCR test three to five days later. If they experience symptoms after being contact traced, they should seek testing at Searle.

Unvaccinated individuals living on campus are asked to move to quarantine housing at 1835 Hinman or self-quarantine off-campus for a maximum of 14 days if they are contact traced.

Any student with a positive COVID-19 test result will be asked to either self-isolate at home or at 1835 Hinman for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms or after the positive test result if asymptomatic.


Masking is required in all indoor shared spaces and facilities regardless of vaccination status, with exception to food or drink consumption and in residence halls or private offices. However, fully-vaccinated professors are exempt from the indoor masking requirement during in-person instruction provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

While masking outdoors is optional, the University says certain events may require the use of a mask based on the event location and attendance numbers.

Campus Activities

Illinois moved into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois framework on June 11, which lifts most restrictions placed in response to the pandemic. While the University’s facilities are now able to operate at full capacity, public health precautions such as vaccination or exemption requirements and masking are still required for students, faculty and staff. This means with the start of Fall Quarter, in-person instruction has resumed for most classes. 

In addition to abiding by University health guidelines in these shared spaces, faculty are encouraged to assist with contact tracing efforts in class — for example, developing assigned seating arrangements.

While there are no capacity restrictions on campus events and activities, social distancing is encouraged and indoor masking is required when applicable. The University also provides guidance to groups seeking to host events, such as requiring vaccination proof, a negative test result or documenting attendance for contact tracing efforts. However, events are explicitly prohibited from excluding unvaccinated individuals.

Visitors to campus are now allowed to participate in campus activities while adhering to specific event requirements for vaccination proof or negative test results.

The University plans to continually monitor and update public health guidelines in accordance with the Illinois and the CDC. More information about the University’s COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @amittal27

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