Mandatory (Required) Surveillance Testing Program

SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 Testing at NIU

For the Spring 2021 semester, NIU is using the SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 Test developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The saliva-based COVID-19 test is a non-invasive test that simply requires an individual to deposit a saliva sample into a provided vial at the on-campus testing site in the Holmes Student Center. Samples are then transported to a network of lab partners who will process and return results to Northwestern Medicine, NIU and the individual who was tested typically within 24 hours.

Read more information on the science behind the saliva-based test.

Who is Required to Test?

The following groups are required to participate in surveillance testing:

  • Students who live in NIU Housing.
  • Students, faculty, instructors and graduate assistants who participate in face-to-face classes, labs or clinicals on campus.
  • Employees who work in residence halls, including building services and dining employees.
  • Employees who interact with the public in retail dining, University Libraries and the Holmes Student Center.
  • Full-time and student staff in the Child Development and Family Center (CDFC).
  • HR employees who conduct civil service tests.
  • Student-athletes and select Athletics staff. 


Step by Step

  1. Schedule your testing appointment through the scheduling link provided via email by or through the links on the NIU scheduling page.
  2. When you arrive for your test, the HSC staff will help you check-in to your appointment at the testing site through the Open Scheduler in the SHIELD portal by scanning a QR code.
    Please note: While there is appointment scheduling available in the SHIELD portal, the days and times do not accurately reflect our testing site, so NIU is using it for appointment check-ins only.
  3. After you test, you will receive a notification from SHIELD that your test results are ready (usually within 36-48 hours of your test)
    • If this is your first time testing, you'll receive an email from SHIELD with an activation code for setting up your account and accessing your results. The activation code is only good for 24 hours so it's recommended that you setup your account as soon as you receive the email.
    • If you get any errors messages associated with your SHIELD IL activation code or have trouble logging in to your account, please call the SHIELD IL helpline at 217-265-6059.
  4. Schedule future appointments through the NIU weekly appointments sent to you from or through the NIU scheduling page.  

Before Getting Tested

Hydrate about 90 minutes before! Drink water up to one hour prior to testing. If you're dehydrated, it's harder to produce saliva.

Then ... don't eat, drink or smoke for 60 minutes before you test! Also avoid tooth brushing, mouth washing, gum chewing and artificially-colored energy drinks for at least one hour before submitting your saliva sample at the test location.

Mask up and bring your OneCard! While you line up outside the testing location, you should wear a mask and practice physical distancing. You'll swipe your OneCard when you hand in your test tube so we can verify that you tested. 

Testing Frequently Asked Questions

Step-by-Step Instructions (PDF)


The test is free for students, faculty and staff required to participate.

Testing Location

Surveillance testing will take place in the Duke Ellington Ballroom on the east side of the Holmes Student Center. Students are required to have an appointment prior to arrival. Instructions on how to schedule appointments have been emailed to those who are required to participate in testing.

Testing Results

Test results will be typically be available within 48 hours of the test and communicated to Northwestern Medicine, NIU and the individual who was tested. You will receive an email from SHIELD Illinois when youre results have posted. You can also link your SHIELD IL MyChart to your Northwestern Medicine MyNM MyChart for access to your test results. 


You can request an exemption from testing if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days prior to your scheduled testing date, or if you are a student who no longer lives on campus and has no face-to-face classes. Documentation will be required to process the requests, and the exemption can be revoked if a student’s housing status or course modality changes.

Request an Exemption from COVID-19 Surveillance Testing

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