Classrooms and Classroom Protocols

NIU is following federal, state and local public health guidance, and we have incorporated additional sanitation and safety measures to protect students, faculty and staff. Accordingly, we expect recommendations for physical distancing, hand hygiene and face coverings to be followed in classrooms and academic spaces.

Courses Requiring Face-to-face Interactions

Some courses require students’ physical participation, such as laboratory, performance-based and clinical experiences. Students who are not comfortable participating in face-to-face learning should not enroll in these courses and will need to discuss this with their advisor. Enrolled students should be aware that instructors will make every effort to provide students with an opportunity to make up work if circumstances require modification or further restriction of their face-to-face learning activities.

How to Ace Being Face-to-Face (PDF)

Laboratory, Clinical and Performance-based Settings

Individual academic colleges and departments will have latitude to decide on safety precautions for their unique academic spaces, in accordance with federal, state and local public health guidance.

Classroom Arrangements

  • Classrooms will be configured to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Room capacities will be roughly 20% of normal room capacity.
  • There will be no more than 50 people in a lecture hall at one time.
  • Seating will be arranged so that there will be a minimum space of 6 feet in all directions from the nearest seat.
  • In fixed-seating classrooms, seats that are not to be used will be clearly marked. For all other classrooms, excess seating will either be removed or marked in some manner. 
  • Faculty are being encouraged to use assigned seating.
  • Students are not allowed to bring food and drinks to classrooms.

Protective Face Masks Required

To help keep our community healthy, students and instructors will be required to wear protective face masks in class, including when they are speaking. Students are expected to supply and maintain their own face masks. We will provide each member of the faculty and staff with two washable face masks. Additionally, we plan to provide face shields to faculty who request them to support classroom lectures and discussion. Disposable face masks will be available in departmental offices for faculty members who wish to have some available in classrooms for emergency student use.

Bandanas and neck gaiters—made of thin, stretch tubes of fabric down the neck—aren’t effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are not acceptable face coverings while on campus.

Students who cannot wear face masks or other personal protective equipment because of a disability should proactively contact, or be referred to, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) prior to the start of the fall semester. The DRC will engage in an interactive process to determine any reasonable accommodations.  Faculty can request to view the approved accommodation documentation that students receive from the DRC.


Students are required to follow all reasonable directives from a faculty member while in class. A student who fails to comply with a request to wear a face mask in class will be considered to have disrupted the educational environment. If a student chooses not to comply with the request, the student will be asked to leave and, ultimately, the instructor has the authority to cancel class. If this happens, instructors should notify their chairs, who should follow the “Classroom Disruption” process articulated in the catalog’s Academic Regulations. Purposeful non-compliance by a student can result in loss of the privilege of attending class or receiving credit in the class. 

Classroom Cleaning and Supplies

Classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily and will be cleaned between class meetings as feasible. While the objective is to disinfect between each class, there may be periods of peak classroom demand which may not make this possible. In such cases, classes with high enrollment or classrooms that are used frequently will be prioritized. As an alternative and additional option, disinfecting wipes will be available in classrooms to allow individuals the opportunity to sanitize personal work surfaces.

Backup Technology

We plan to equip all classrooms that are being used for face-to-face interactions with streaming capabilities. The level of technology will vary by classroom and could allow for two-way interaction, live streaming or lecture capture. The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and DoIT are planning to provide training in the use of the technologies.


Fall 2020 Plan (PDF)

Message from President Freeman

COVID-19 Concerns Form

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