Jason Whittaker has seen this movie before. In fact, he’s been in it. Lining up for a COVID-19 test, and having classes held remotely instead of in-person.
“Oh absolutely,” Whitaker said, as he waited in sub-freezing temperatures outside the Jacobs Center COVID testing site on campus.
“Same script” as last winter quarter, noted the Northwestern University senior from Michigan.
The 2022 winter term began Monday. Classes are online instead of in-person for the next two weeks, which also includes a “Wildcat Wellness” period where all students are to get one COVID test per week.
Zoe Maroko, a sophomore from New Jersey, was also in the testing line.
Maroko recalled taking one of her courses last winter in a hybrid mode, meeting “in person once every two weeks.” The other class periods were done remotely.
While students are dealing with remote courses and coronavirus vaccinations, the university is also dealing with something else as well — food.
Effective Jan. 10, the City of Evanston is requiring all indoor dining locations to require proof of COVID shots for patrons to be allowed inside to eat.
Ike Ogbo, director of the city’s Health and Human Services Department, has told Evanston Now the regulation does indeed apply to university dining halls.
There are exemptions for sites that are restricted to residents, owners or tenants of a building, but, Ogbo said, “The dining halls are not limited to just the residents and tenants.”
University spokesperson Jon Yates told Evanston Now that NU is working closely with the city to understand the details of the new order, “and what changes need to be enacted on campus in addition to our current mitigation efforts.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all Northwestern students (with a small number of exceptions), and booster shots are also mandated by the end of January, or within 30 days of eligibility, whichever comes first.
As of now, in-person classes are scheduled to resume on Jan. 18, but that too could change, depending on COVID.
Yates told Evanston Now that “as has always been the case, we will continue to monitor and assess based on the pandemic’s impact on our community and guidance from our public health partners.”
In other words, there is at least a chance that online learning will extend beyond the 18th.
“Right now,” said Whittaker, “it looks like it might be longer.” The education and social policy major said he was “hopeful” that would not be the case.
And Maroko, who is double majoring in theater and neuroscience, was also optimistic but seemed resigned to whatever may happen.
“I hope to be in-person sometime” this quarter, she said.