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As COVID-19 evolves, more flexible dining options in Isolation Housing

Accommodations for students who live on campus and test positive have been updated in response to student feedback and health guidance
isolation housing
Students in Isolation Housing now have access to a pantry stocked with a robust mix of snacks and ready-to-eat entrees. Northwestern Now staff photo

As the world adapts to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northwestern is doing the same. One of the most visible examples of the University’s changing efforts on the Evanston campus is in Isolation Housing.

Formerly known as Quarantine and Isolation Housing, the accommodations for students who live on campus and test positive for COVID-19 have been updated for the Fall Quarter in response to feedback from students and recent guidance from health authorities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommend quarantine following exposure to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.

Isolation Housing remains in 1835 Hinman, but the experience in the semi-suite style building has shifted to provide increased flexibility on dining options through a delivery service, more opportunities to take class tests remotely, the ability to go outside during specified hours and, under certain circumstances, earlier releases from isolation. 

“Testing positive for COVID-19 is a frustrating and, at times, anxiety-inducing experience,” Executive Director of Residential Services Carlos Gonzalez said. “Over the course of the pandemic, we have consistently reviewed the student experience and made adjustments to provide the academic and social supports students need and deserve.” 

A cross-functional team of Northwestern staff from Residential Services, Northwestern Dining, Counseling and Psychological Services, Northwestern Medicine Student Health Service, the Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs Operations and Services, Testing and Case Management, Aramark and Compass Group and the Office of the Provost continues to work together to ensure residents are well cared for within appropriate community health guidelines. 

Students in Isolation Housing are now provided with e-vouchers to purchase hot meals through DoorDash delivery, allowing for a wide range of personal choices for meals. They also now have access to a pantry stocked with a robust mix of snacks and ready-to-eat entrees. 

If their symptoms have resolved or are improving and any fever has been resolved for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication, residents are cleared to end isolation at midnight as early as the end of the fifth day after their positive test result. Upon clearance, residents receive instructions on their next steps that are informed by public health guidance.

While they may not attend class or enter any building on campus except in the case of a medical appointment, Isolation Housing residents can now leave 1835 Hinman while masked between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. 

The Office of the Provost has developed new protocols that, with the approval of individual instructors, provide an opportunity for students who are in Isolation Housing but feeling well to sit for exams that are proctored in person.

“No matter the illness, getting sick in the middle of a quarter can be a discouraging academic disruption,” Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Miriam Gamoran Sherin said. “First and foremost, students who are sick should focus on their personal health and well-being. If you are sick, take care of yourself and communicate with your instructors to learn how you can make up any missed work. For Isolation Housing residents who feel up to it, we are pleased to offer this new option of proctored testing.”