NWC's Coronavirus Response:
Spring 2021 FAQs


COVID-19 Updates

Summary of Northwestern's Pandemic Recovery Plan


Q: I have concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after what I'm hearing in the news. Should I be worried?

A: The CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to reports of blood clots in 6 women between the ages of 18 to 48. At this point, medical experts say that this risk only applies to those who have received the J&J vaccine, NOT Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. While severe, the cases are VERY rare: 6 cases reported in about 7 million doses given.

If you received the J&J vaccine more than a month ago:
The CDC and FDA have said these blood clots develop within 6 to 13 days of receiving the J&J vaccine, so if you are beyond that time frame, you are even less likely to develop complications.

If you received the J&J vaccine within the last month:
Monitor your symptoms and call your healthcare provider, or the OCAHS clinic at 712-737-2000, if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Leg pain
  • Shortness of breath

Medical experts are still encouraging as many Americans as possible to get vaccinated to prevent severe disease and COVID-related deaths. To sign up for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, call OCAHS at 712-737-2000 or contact local pharmacies such as Walgreens or Hy-Vee.

I understand that this news is making some of you anxious and maybe questioning if you made the right choice in getting the J&J vaccine. Remember, everything we do has a risk. Jumping off your top bunk is a risk. Stepping foot onto the field or court is a risk. With every decision we make, we do the best we can with what we know and weigh the risk vs. reward. 6 cases out of 7 million doses makes it very unlikely that you or someone you know will be affected by this. In comparison, think of how many lives have been saved with those 7 million doses. By getting the vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself from severe cases and potential death related to COVID, but also those you know and love.

If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out to the COVID Medical Team by sending a message on Raider Check, emailing Brooke at brooke.hughes@nwciowa.edu, or calling Brooke at 712-707-7282.

Helpful Links

Brooke Huhges, RN, BSN
COVID Medical Team Lead
712-707-7282 | brooke.hughes@nwciowa.edu

Q: What is herd immunity, and how does it work?

A: These simple simulations can help one understand the benefits of herd immunity:

How Herd Immunity Works—And What Stands In Its Way

Q: Are vaccines available for Northwestern faculty, staff and students?

A: 600 COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to Northwestern students, faculty and staff at an  on-campus clinic on Thursday, April 8. While the vaccine is not required, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. If 70% of the Northwestern community is vaccinated, we will be able to eliminate the mask mandate.

Q: What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

A: We will urge students who live within 250 miles of campus to go home until they are free of the virus. They will be able to keep up with classes remotely. For those who live too far away or who have someone at home who is immunocompromised, we have designated several apartments and wings to comfortably isolate them.

Students who are in isolation will be able to continue their coursework online and will have meals brought to them. Staff in our wellness and residence life departments will ensure every NWC student who is isolated is well cared for and receives the medical, emotional and spiritual support they need.

For more details on the instructions we provide students who test positive, see the handout

Q: Do students have to wear masks?

A: Yes. Every student should bring several cloth masks to campus and be prepared to wear them as outlined by the guidelines below (subject to change):

Mask wearing protects you and others, so cover up:

    • In classrooms
    • At chapel and other Christian formation events
    • In the cafeteria (and other eating places) until you're seated at your table
    • In indoor common spaces, including hallways, lobbies and lounges (e.g. DeWitt Learning Commons, Ramaker Center, Rowenhorst Student Center and Van Peursem Hall)
    • Wherever you see a MASK ZONE sign 
    • Whenever someone asks you to for the safety of another who is vulnerable to COVID-19 (including in your residence hall)

Q: Do students have to wear masks if they have had a vaccine?

A: The CDC continues to recommend mask-wearing and physical distancing even if someone has been vaccinated. Until CDC guidelines change, masking will be required even if you have had a vaccine. Visit the CDC's website for  frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

Q: Do students have to quarantine if they have had a vaccine?

A: Students will need to share proof of vaccination with the Covid Medical Team via the Raider Check App. Once proof is on file for students, they will not have to quarantine if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Q: May students and guests attend athletic events?

A: Northwestern College athletics has worked with local health officials to develop game-day protocols for the spring 2021 season in the effort to mitigate risks associated with the spread of COVID-19.  These protocols also follow GPAC guidelines.

Red Raider fans are encouraged to read the protocols for opponent venues at away contests, as every stadium/gym/field has varying seating available. You can read the full Red Raider home event protocols here, including venue specific information.


  • Attendance will be limited to 50% capacity of our provided seating at all venues. 
  • Hand sanitizing/disinfecting wipe stations will be available to fans throughout the venue.
  • All fans are required to wear a mask and observe physical distancing while present in Northwestern facilities.
  • Family groups are asked to sit together and maintain physical distance between themselves and other fans.
  • NWC coaches, student-athletes and event staff have numerous daily and game-day procedures in place to help keep all Red Raiders safe.
  • Tailgating will not be permitted on campus. 

Q: Will Northwestern have an in-person commencement? When?

A: Northwestern expects to host its baccalaureate and commencement in person and indoors on Friday and Saturday, May 7–8, 2021. To allow for physical distancing, the number of attendees at both events will be limited. Tickets and face coverings will be required. Other appropriate health and safety measures may be implemented as needed.

In March, students will be sent a request for RSVP through which they can request tickets for both events. The latest information on commencement can be found on our commencement webpage.