NU transitions to “yellow” activity level as COVID-19 cases decline, new testing requirements announced

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Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

With a one-fourth decrease in positive tests reported this week, Luke Figora wrote in an email that the University is ready to resume an in-person modality with another week of testing for students.

Angeli Mittal, Photo Editor

Campus activity level has moved to “yellow” after a decline in Northwestern’s positivity rate and 25% fewer reported positive tests than last week.

Out of about 14,000 tests taken this week — 2,000 fewer than last week, which included self-reported at-home testing results — 686 came back positive compared to last week’s 909. The positivity rate is at 4.81%, which represents a 0.73% decrease from last week.

Like last week, undergraduate students accounted for about half of the positive cases at 356. Non-undergraduate students accounted for almost a third of cases at 229 while staff constituted 153 positive cases. Faculty continue to have the fewest reported confirmed cases with 25 this week.

In-person classes and activities will start as planned on Jan. 18, Vice President of Operations Luke Figora said in a Friday email, citing the high vaccination rate on campus and mitigation protocols.

Figora said as COVID-19 case numbers and test positivity rates have been declining, the number of students in isolation housing has decreased after hitting a peak earlier this week.

Figora also announced that all students taking in-person classes, regardless of vaccination status, are required to take a COVID-19 test at one of the in-person testing sites between Jan. 18 and Jan. 21. Students who have tested positive in the last 90 days are exempt from the testing requirement.

Asymptomatic testing is available on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Donald P. Jacobs Center starting Tuesday. Testing centers are closed Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Symptomatic testing will be available starting Monday at the Jacobs Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

The University is requiring all students to wear a surgical mask or higher-quality mask during in-person instruction, suggesting students layer with a cloth mask on top. Professors are encouraged to wear masks in class but are exempt if teaching from a distance.

The University plans to provide KN95s to students living on-campus, according to a Thursday email, and intends to provide more details about further distribution online.

Contact-tracing efforts will remain suspended after the Wildcat Wellness period. NU will also suspend at-home test distribution for another week to continue prioritizing on-site testing efforts, Figora said in the email.

All students, faculty and staff are required to submit their COVID-19 booster shot documentation online by Jan. 30 or within 30 days of being eligible, whichever comes later.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @amittal27

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