Northeastern announces COVID-19 testing requirements for Fall 2021

Students, faculty, staff and contract employees on Northeastern University campuses will be required to be tested for the coronavirus once a week as the Fall 2021 term begins. The testing requirement is part of Northeastern’s plan to maintain a safe campus environment as the normal fall semester kicks off. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

When students return to Northeastern University’s campuses for the fall term, all members of the Northeastern community will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing once a week, regardless of vaccination status, university leaders announced. This COVID-19 testing strategy comes as Northeastern University leaders plan for a return to a fully in-person semester for Fall 2021 with students arriving on the university’s campuses from around the world, where vaccination rates and COVID-19 case counts may vary significantly.

All students who are moving into university housing for the fall term will be required to begin this weekly testing on the day they arrive on campus, regardless of vaccination status. All other students, faculty, staff, and vendor employees—both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated—will be required to test once a week starting the week of September 6 if they are on campus one or more days a week. 

Northeastern leaders and public health experts will begin to reevaluate the university’s testing strategy in October using the testing data from the beginning of the semester, case rates in the community beyond Northeastern, and the latest science. These fall testing requirements will go into effect on any Northeastern campus where COVID-19 testing is provided.

“Our North Star is safety,” says Ken Henderson, chancellor and senior vice president for learning at Northeastern. He underscores that the Northeastern community is global, with students coming together on campus from many far-flung places around the world. “By doing testing, we will gather information in order to make the best science-based decisions we can.”

Frequent surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, along with stringent contact tracing, quarantining, and strictly enforced public health protocols allowed Northeastern to safely reopen campuses last fall. As such, COVID-19 cases remained low on the Boston campus throughout the academic year.

As before, the Northeastern testing centers do not allow walk-in testing. Northeastern community members should complete a Daily Wellness Check on or before the week of September 6 and continue until further notice.

Anyone experiencing any cold-like symptoms is required to get tested immediately and only return to classes and other activities after being cleared by a physician. Those symptomatic individuals should indicate their symptoms on the Daily Wellness Check form and follow the directions provided. They should also exercise other public health precautions, like wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others.

“If you feel the sniffles and you’re sick, wear a mask,” Henderson says. 

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals are still required to wear a mask in public spaces and practice healthy distancing. Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the single-shot vaccine or a second shot of the two-dose vaccines.

Northeastern was also one of the first universities in the nation to require all students returning to its campuses for the Fall 2021 term to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Students who attend classes or visit any of Northeastern’s campuses in the U.S. are required to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall term with any vaccine approved by the World Health Organization

Any students who have received a vaccine that is not approved by the WHO will be required to be revaccinated, based on new CDC guidance. Students are required to submit documentation of immunization against the coronavirus before August 15 using the Vaccine Verification form.

During the summer term, all fully vaccinated members of the Northeastern community do not need to be tested regularly. The fall testing requirement applies to all members of the community that come to campus regardless of vaccination status.  

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