NIU reveals plan to ‘protect the pack’ in Fall 2020

How COVID-19 will affect university learning and student life


Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

A mask is taped to NIU’s Olive Goyle statue next to Altgeld Hall June 3.

Ahyen Labanan, News Editor

DeKALB — NIU’s “Protecting the Pack” plan provides health and safety guidelines for the fall semester. Here’s what the NIU community needs to know.

Huskie expectations
NIU employees and students are required to complete training modules on health and safety measures prior to returning to campus.

Students will receive access to training in August, while employees received training in June.

NIU is collaborating with the Student Government Association to create videos for these modules, SGA President Antonio Johnson said in a July 23 email.

Johnson said he believes the plan is a “milestone” in the NIU community that helps support students in achieving their academic and social accomplishments safely and supportively.

Students, faculty and staff are expected to inform NIU by calling a COVID-19 helpline at 815-753-0444, if they test positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to individuals with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Additionally, students, faculty and staff can use the #CampusClear app daily to document symptoms of COVID-19.

NIU will release #CampusClear on Android and iOS app stores by Aug. 15. The app is in a test phase and being finalized now, NIU spokesperson Joe King said in a July 23 email statement.

Information reported using the app will go to a team of administrators, who will check for trends and potential hotspots, King said.

“While we are not requiring an individual to download the app, we strongly encourage everyone to do so to help protect their health as well as the health of fellow Huskies,” King said. “Anyone who has symptoms and fails to quarantine, be tested or notify the university and health officials puts the wellbeing of others at risk, and may be referred to the university conduct process.”

NIU community members are expected to maintain proper hand hygiene, practice physical distancing and wear face masks. The plan also encourages the NIU community to consider getting a flu shot.


Academic support services will be available to students, including advising, ACCESS Tutoring and Support Services, the University Writing Center, Orientation and First Year Programs, University Honors, CHANCE, Cultural Resource Centers, the Disability Resource Center, Career Services, Jobs PLUS and Counseling and consultation services.

Wi-Fi is accessible at the Holmes Student Center, Founders Memorial Library and in most other buildings.

Founders Memorial Library will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Weekend hours have not been determined.

The Music Library will be open with modified hours, and the Faraday Library will not be open in the fall.

Laptop computers and Wi-Fi hotspot devices are available for checkout from Founders Memorial Library.

Undergraduate students can participate in remote or onsite research activities beginning Aug. 16, if the activities comply with health and safety guidelines.

Classroom protocol
Students must follow “reasonable directives” from a faculty member during class, according to the plan.

Students who don’t comply with a request to wear a face mask in class are considered to have disrupted the environment.

Also, if a student doesn’t comply with a request to wear a face covering, the instructor can cancel class.

“Purposeful non-compliance by a student can result in loss of the privilege of attending class or receiving credit in the class,” the plan states.

Students with in-person or hybrid classes should limit contact with others two weeks prior to the first day of classes on Aug. 24, according to the plan.

Classrooms will be cleaned daily and between classes. If classrooms cannot be cleaned between classes due to periods of classroom demand, disinfecting wipes will be available for people to use.

Housing and dining
First-year students can move into residence halls on Aug. 19, 20 or 21, while returning students move in on Aug. 21, 22 and 23.

All students living in residence halls are required to take COVID-19 Polymerise Chain Reaction tests and send the results to NIU before moving into residence halls or Northern View apartments.

Students are required to be tested no sooner than seven days prior to their scheduled move-in date.

If a student is unable to document their negative COVID-19 PCR test, they will not be able to access their residence hall.

If a student receives a positive result, they will be required to isolate at home for 14 days and contact NIU. Housing and residential services will reschedule a later move-in time for students who test positive and self-isolate, according to the Housing website.

COVID-19 testing is not required for students living in Greek housing, off-campus apartments or at home; however, it’s recommended for students with in-person or hybrid classes, according to the plan.

Visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website for information on COVID-19 PCR testing sites.

NIU will also give all students living on campus a face mask in the fall.

Visitors are only allowed in residence hall lobby areas and dining locations.

All campus dining locations will offer carry-out only meals, and self-service stations aren’t available this fall, according to the plan.

Qdoba, Huskie Grill, Starbucks, the Huskie Depot and Einstein Bros. Bagels will also be open.

Face masks are required in dining halls and retail locations on campus. Students are expected to practice physical distancing in ordering lines.

Student life
The Recreation and Wellness Center will open Aug. 10. There will be modified hours of operation, layout changes and virtual or in-person fitness training options.

There will be a gradual reintroduction of intramural sports, sport clubs, Outdoor Adventures events and rentals, Anderson Hall Pool, Chick Evans Field House and the Outdoor Recreation Sports Complex.

Huskie Books and Gear will be open this fall. The Huskie Den Bowling and Billiards Center is expected to open later in the year, according to the plan.

Ellington’s restaurant, a student-run space, will be closed this fall.

Indoor university events will be capped at 50 guests. Outdoor events can have up to 50 people as long as groups maintain 30 feet of distance from each other.

Physical distancing is expected at all events, and face masks will be required at all indoor events.

The DeKalb Public Transit System or Huskie Buses will operate in the fall. The buses will be cleaned at least twice a day.

There’s a limit of 10 to 12 passengers on a bus at any one time; however, this may increase depending on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and State of Illinois.

Passengers must enter and exit through the rear door, and individuals can request to enter through the front door if they’re using mobility devices, have strollers or are accompanying children.

Face coverings are required for passengers of the DeKalb Public Transit System.

Visit the “Protecting the Pack” website for more information and regular updates.

SGA Speaker of the Senate Bradley Beyer encourages students to refer to the plan this semester for information on student life and academic affairs.

“I would say that [students] should have confidence in the plan, as their safety and health were rooted in the decisions made,” Beyer said in a July 23 email.