Surveillance Testing


NIU will begin COVID-19 surveillance tests Wednesday, Sept. 2, for students living in residence halls, those who attend select, in-person classes* on the DeKalb campus and student athletes, as part of NIU’s multi-pronged strategy to mitigate and monitor the spread of COVID-19. Students within this population will be chosen at random and will be required to participate several times over the course of the fall semester. There is no fee for the tests.

A surveillance testing program samples specific populations of students to be tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have a known exposure or are showing symptoms. This allows the university to make inferences about the level of spread in the student population, especially as students may be asymptomatic.

About the Testing Process

Testing will take place in the Northwestern Medicine Student Health Center at NIU, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Under the guidance of a medical professional, students will self-administer a simple, non-invasive nasal swab. Results will generally be available within 3-5 days, and students who have been tested can continue with their normal activities while they await results.

When a student is chosen for testing, they’ll receive an email via their email address with the date and window of time for them to come and test. Those students who have a valid mobile phone number in MyNIU will also receive a text message. Students are responsible for making sure their contact information is up to date in MyNIU.

Students will either be assigned a timeslot of either 8 a.m. to noon or noon to 4 p.m. and should plan to be at the clinic for approximately 30 minutes. Students are encouraged to come earlier in the window to reduce wait times. Students should bring a completed copy of the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 authorization to release information form (PDF).

Failure to participate when selected for testing will result in a warning. Failure to reschedule within 24-48 hours of your original time could result in removal from the residence halls and classes.

COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Update Form

Communication of Test Results

Northwestern Medicine will communicate test results via the Northwestern Medicine MyNM/MyChart. Students who test positive will also be contacted via phone by a registered nurse and immediately instructed to isolate and seek proper medical attention as necessary. They will also receive a call from the DeKalb County Health Department for contact tracing. Students are expected to take both phone calls and follow all instructions to ensure the health of themselves and others.

NIU will update the campus COVID-19 Dashboard each Monday with surveillance testing data. Students are encouraged to self-monitor and report symptoms using the #CampusClear app.

* At this time, only students who are enrolled in classes where physical distancing and wearing a mask is limited due to the hands-on nature of the course(s) will be tested.

Surveillance Testing FAQ

How will students be selected?

Each week, a random sample of students will be selected for testing. Students will be contacted directly via their NIU email account and text (only available if number is listed on MyNIU) with their scheduled date and time.

Is testing required?

Participation is mandatory. Failure to participate when selected will result in a warning. Failure to comply a second time could result in removal from the residence halls and classes

Should I still get tested if I’m not feeling well?

No, if you are not feeling well you should immediately self-quarantine call the NIU COVID-19 Helpline (815-753-0444) and your medical provider. Please also notify the Center for Student Assistance (815-753-8300) that you will not be reporting for surveillance testing so that we are aware and do not need to remove you from the residence halls and/or classes.

Fall 2020 Plan

Fall 2020 Plan (PDF)

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