*Published on July 9, 2020*
Dear Northeastern University community,
As we move toward reopening our campuses in fall 2020, we write to share additional updates on how the university is preparing its classes, buildings, and residence halls for a return to campus in the fall term.
Hybrid NUflex is a unique learning model that gives students the ability to learn either in the classroom or remotely, in real time through classroom technology. Across our global network, Northeastern is outfitting its classrooms with technology—cameras, microphones, computers, and a projection system—that will allow remote participation in Hybrid NUflex classes.
The Hybrid NUflex FAQs answer key questions around Hybrid NUflex and what the classroom and student experience will be like. They share how students and faculty will know which class sessions a student is attending in person, how they can join Hybrid NUflex courses from home, and whether students can attend part of the term remotely and part on campus. FAQs on classroom technology share details on the technology that will support Hybrid NUflex and how a remote student will interact with their professors and classmates in the classroom.
As we shared in our June 20 message to the community, Northeastern is developing a platform called the Student Hub to provide students with direct and immediate access to the tools, services, and information they access and use most often—including a dynamic scheduling platform that will allow students to indicate, on a weekly basis, their preference for being face-to-face or in a remote location for their classes. Faculty will receive a roster each week of the students who are scheduled to attend in person. Student feedback has been incorporated at each step of the way and focus group testing will continue through the summer. It is expected to launch in mid-August. The Reopening FAQs share more information on the Student Hub and its features.
Northeastern will complete a readiness checklist for each building in our global network before it reopens. Prior to reopening, buildings will follow all state-mandated guidelines for signage, hygiene protocols, cleaning and disinfecting, healthy distancing, staffing, and operations. The facilities team will modify furniture layouts to promote healthy distancing and will complete preventive maintenance for water systems and air filters. In addition to replacing its air filter systems for the fall, Northeastern is setting its HVAC systems at the minimum air recirculation setting, allowing as much fresh air circulation as possible. For leased properties, Northeastern will verify that the property manager has prepared the buildings’ common spaces according to state guidelines while following university standards within our own leased spaces.
Students who live in off campus housing will be expected to follow new protocols while on campus—including completing a daily self-assessment to monitor their symptoms before coming to campus, wearing a face covering, checking into campus buildings through the Safe Zone app, and maintaining healthy distancing. Prior to move-in and before the start of the fall term, the Off-Campus Housing and Support Services team will update students on the latest news and resources and will engage with students throughout the fall term to educate them on best practices for staying healthy and safe.
The timeline below shares key dates for residential students who will be living on campus in Boston this fall:
To allow more flexibility for students and families making decisions about the fall term, Northeastern has extended the housing cancellation deadline to July 15, 2020 for returning upperclassmen and for students who are required to live in university housing but will be participating in Hybrid NUflex from home. Unless a student cancels by the July 15 deadline, we will expect to welcome them to the residence halls in the fall. After July 15, the standard cancellation policies and fee schedule will go into effect. Students will be welcome to come and go—for instance, begin the term remotely and arrive in Boston later in the term—but will be charged for the entire term. If students cancel their housing and then decide they prefer to come to Boston, housing will be based on availability and will be assigned on a first-come basis. Students who receive housing assignments later in the term would be charged a pro-rated amount.
Students can expect to receive their housing assignments in late July to early August and will be assigned to single or double rooms. Northeastern is following the same housing application and selection process and the same housing accommodation request process used in past years. As previously communicated, Northeastern has secured additional beds to allow the university to eliminate triple and quad rooms, to house N.U.in Boston students, and to provide space for quarantine and isolation if needed. All additional housing is within walking distance and many apartments are in buildings that Northeastern has leased before. All University housing will have residential life on site to facilitate a healthy and active community life.
To reduce density, move-in will be expanded to an 11-day time period, from August 29 through September 8. Returning students and incoming families should expect to receive both their housing assignments and their move-in date and time in late July to early August. During move-in, all students and visitors will follow all campus protocols—wearing face coverings, practicing healthy distancing, observing occupancy limits on elevators, and following exit and entry signage on stairways and hallways. As previously communicated, there will be a limit of one hamper per student, disinfected between uses.
This year, students and families can expect more electronic communications and fewer papers and maps handed out on-site. There will be extra signage directing people where they need to go and in-depth training for the staff and volunteers who are helping with move-in. Proctor stations will be fully equipped with Plexiglass and hand sanitizer. Common areas and bathrooms will be cleaned multiple times a day.
The move-in team meets regularly to prepare for all contingencies and to create a move-in plan that follows the recommendations and guidance of the CDC and local public health agencies. Additional details will be forthcoming closer to the move-in date.
For residences managed or leased by Northeastern, we will take additional precautions to promote cleaning and sanitation. Residence hall common spaces will be cleaned daily, with high touchpoints cleaned at least three times a day. In first year residences with common bathrooms, facilities staff will clean bathrooms three times a day. In upperclassman residences with shared bathrooms and/or shared kitchens, Northeastern will provide students with a starter cleaning kit of standard household products at move-in. Electric hand dryers will be disabled and touchless paper towel dispensers installed across campus.
While on campus, students will wear their Husky ID on a lanyard. Face coverings must be worn at all times—both inside campus buildings and in outdoor spaces on campus. Face coverings are required in residence hallways and common areas but may be removed inside bedrooms. Students will need to check into each campus building using the Safe Zone app, wash their hands frequently for 20 seconds, and complete a daily health assessment to check for COVID-19 symptoms. Northeastern will test its entire on-campus community for COVID-19, including students, on a regular cycle.
In the residence halls, each proctor station will be equipped with a Plexiglass barrier and with decals and signage to promote healthy distancing. Proctors will be required to wear face coverings, will screen their health and report symptoms of sickness before every shift, and will sanitize their stations frequently. The CBORD Mobile ID will provide an option for contactless entry and, in some residence halls, students will be able to tap their Husky Card on a foyer reader to enter.
Residence hall stairs and hallways will be marked with signage to direct traffic flow. Elevators will have occupancy limits with clear markers on how to enter and exit and where to stand. Laundry rooms will have occupancy limits and options for MobileID pay. Study spaces will have occupancy limits with decals and signage to promote healthy distancing at study tables.
As previously communicated, Northeastern will set aside housing for students living in university housing who have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or for students who have been asked to quarantine due to close contact with someone who has received a COVID-19 diagnosis. For any student who tests positive for COVID-19, a case manager will be in close contact to help them access the help they need. Additional details will be shared at a later date.
A team is continuing to work on plans for dining facilities on the Boston campus, keeping safety first while providing for a range of student needs and experiences. A plan is under development, and details will be shared soon.
Northeastern is building capacity to conduct 2,500 to 5,000 COVID-19 tests on a daily basis on its Boston campus. All students, faculty, and staff returning to campus will be required to undergo viral testing regularly. Additional details will be shared within the coming week.
We will continue sharing updates and news with the Northeastern community as we approach the beginning of the fall term. Regular communication and updates will continue through email, during July town halls, and through updates on the COVID-19 reopening website.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kenneth W. Henderson
Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Learning