They’re back … Northwestern students who will live in the residence halls. Move-in crews this week are helping unload cars and take luggage to the dorms.

But even though more students are allowed in residence now halls than were permitted last quarter, the facilities are not expected to fill up.

First and second year students were barred from dorms in the fall quarter, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In fact, the University asked first-and-second-years to take remote classes from their home towns, instead of getting apartments in Evanston, although the University says about 400 did so anyway.

The ban on first and second year students was lifted for the current winter quarter, but a university spokesperson told Evanston Now weeks ago they did not expect many of the apartment residents to return to the dorms.

In fact, a member of a helper crew at a dorm off Chicago Avenue said only about one student per hour has been showing up to move in.

Northwestern has not provided an update on how many students will be in the dorms this quarter. In the fall, the University said about 500 people lived in residence halls — upper class and graduate students, along with some first and second years who were given exemptions.

Fraternities and sororities, which were closed in the fall quarter, have also been allowed to reopen.

Northwestern has about 8,000 undergraduate students. If full, the dorms can accommodate about half of that number.

Move-in began Monday and ends Friday. Undergraduate classes start next Monday. Even though there will be more in-person and hybrid courses than last quarter, most classes will still be held remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Update 3:15 p.m. 1/8/21:

Northwestern officials say about 2,300 students are projected to live in the residence halls this quarter, about 40% fewer than usual.

Another 225 students will be in fraternities or sororities, a 75% reduction. Nineteen of the Greek system houses are open this quarter. Ten remain closed.

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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