Most of Northwestern University’s 8,000 undergraduate and 13,000 graduate students will remain on remote learning for the upcoming Winter quarter, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In an email to students and faculty, University President Morton Schapiro and other top NU officials say, “The majority of instruction for Winter will continue to be remote to enable proper social distancing and other safety measures.”

However, NU will try to increase the number of hybrid and in-person classes, assuming COVID-19 realities allow. Specific numbers were not released. Course schedules for most students will be available in mid-November.

In addition, the Winter quarter will begin one week later than planned, on Jan. 11, for most undergraduate and graduate students. This will allow for a two-week “Wildcat Wellness” period of COVID testing and other preparations for school to start.

Some classes for professional programs, including journalism and business, will begin Jan. 4.

Northwestern went to remote learning for nearly all of its courses in the current quarter in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. First and second year students were also prohibited from campus, and residence halls were closed to all students except juniors, seniors, as well as first- and second-year students who have an approved exception.

The University is considering “whether first- and second-year students will be allowed to return to campus in the Winter quarter,” with a decision on that no later than early November. The goal, NU leaders say, is “to have as many students come to campus as can safely be accommodated.”

To that end, NU is asking all students to fill out a survey by Sunday, Oct. 18, on whether they would return to campus if allowed.

At this point, it is unclear whether the University’s hope to allow more students on campus also includes letting more students back in the dorms, although Schapiro’s email says the survey information “will enable us to plan for testing, housing, and other aspects of campus life.”

“The pandemic has changed our lives in myriad ways,” Schapiro says, “yet we could not be prouder of the way our communities have responded to these challenges.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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