Testing, Tracking, Tracing and Health Surveillance

In an effort to protect all members of the campus community, NIU has developed stringent plans around testing and tracing for COVID-19 that apply to all students, faculty and staff.

Testing for Students Living in Residence Halls

All students living in NIU residence halls MUST take a COVID-19 PCR (Polymerise Chain Reaction) test prior to moving onto campus. Tests must be done on the following timeline:

  • Students must be tested no more than one week (seven days) prior to their move-in date.
  • Students will need to submit their test results to NIU Housing no later than 24 hours prior to their scheduled move in. Information about how to submit test results will be sent to students in early August.

COVID-19 PCR tests are available at Illinois community based testing sites and personal health care providers. Appointments might be needed to obtain tests, so students should plan in advance. Before scheduling or taking a test, please consult your insurance provider on its requirements or instructions. Students will be responsible for any testing costs not covered by insurance. If you have questions about insurance and the test, please contact the NIU Center for Student Assistance at studentassistance@niu.edu or by calling 815-753-8300 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Students unable to document their negative COVID-19 PCR test WILL NOT be permitted to move into their residence halls.

Testing for Students Living Off Campus

Although COVID-19 testing is not required for students living in Greek housing, in off-campus apartments or at home, it is strongly recommended for students who have in-person or hybrid classes.

Also, all students who have in-person or hybrid classes are asked to limit contact with others starting two weeks before the first day of classes August 24. 

Surveillance Testing

Surveillance testing is a strategy commonly used by public health officials to help them better understand the spread of a disease and the effectiveness of steps being taken to slow or stop the spread. They do so by testing specific samples within a population in a way that allows them to make inferences as efficiently as possible.

NIU is currently in discussions with the DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD) and Northwestern Medicine regarding the efficacy and implementation of surveillance testing. More information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks regarding whether such testing will be implemented, and, if so, how the testing will be implemented. 

Reactive Testing

Any student or employee who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (as determined in conjunction with the contact tracing process explained below) can receive a COVID-19 PCR test at an Illinois community based testing site. If that individual does not have insurance to get tested or is experiencing other barriers (i.e., no transportation), testing can be arranged through the DCHD. If testing is needed to mitigate a potential outbreak (e.g., a student in a residence hall tests positive), the DCHD will facilitate testing to assist in containment.

Tracking and Tracing

When a member of the university is found to be infected, the DCHD will conduct contact tracing. Contact tracing is used to prevent the spread of infectious disease by identifying people who have an infectious disease and their contacts (people who might have been exposed) and working with them to interrupt disease transmission. For COVID-19, this includes asking individuals diagnosed with the virus to isolate and those they have been in contact with to quarantine at home voluntarily. The health department also will provide support and guidance for those who have potentially been exposed to the virus.

Fall 2020 Plan

Fall 2020 Plan (PDF)

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