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Postdoc-Specific COVID-19 FAQs

The Graduate School's (TGS) Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is closely monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation and the challenges it presents to our University and postdoctoral communities. Our top priority is to support your health and well-being and to continue furthering your personal and professional development. 

Below are postdoctoral trainee-specific FAQs. This webpage will be updated regularly in the days and weeks ahead. University-wide updates and information can be found on the University's COVID-19 website. If you have questions that are not addressed in the University's FAQs, please email or call 847.467.4111.   

Remote Operations for the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs: Please note, in light of COVID-19, The Graduate School has switched to remote operations in our Evanston (Rebecca Crown Center) and Chicago (Abbott Hall) offices. Although the OPA is now working remotely, our office is offering a remote version of its usual services during this time. Please email Beth Healey, The Graduate School’s assistant director of postdoctoral affairs, with any questions, concerns, or appointment requests.  

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs Grants

What is the status of OPA grants for postdoctoral trainees?

March 25, 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) global health concern, all OPA grants are currently on hold.

The University is closely monitoring the situation. All University-related travel and events are restricted, and the OPA and The Graduate School (TGS) are not reviewing applications for the Graduate Research Grant and Professional Travel Grant in historically undefended disciplines at this time.

Due to ongoing travel restrictions, the OPA and TGS are not reviewing applications for Dependent Care Professional Development Grants at this time.

This information will be updated pending revised guidance from the University regarding COVID-19 and University operations. Please contact with any questions.  

Family Benefit Resources

What family care benefits are available to trainees?

Updated April 23, 2021

Childcare Benefits for Postdoctoral Parents
Learn about the childcare benefits available to postdoctoral trainee parents by viewing this PowerPoint presentation created by Human Resources' Well-being Manager Lesley Lundeen. If you have any questions about childcare benefits, please email the Well-being Office

Care@Work Backup Care for Dependents

To better support postdoctoral trainees with dependents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is offering a subsidized backup care option for childcare and eldercare during the 2020–21 academic year. This program is administered through and enables individuals to find vetted in-home or center-based providers when regular care falls through. This program can used for non-emergency backup care, as well as emergency backup care.

Please visit the HR Work/Life and Family Resources webpage to learn about the program details. You may register for your Care@Work account before the need arises by calling 855.781.1303 or logging in to the Care@Work portal through MyHR Benefits.

COVID-19 Temporary Caregiver Grant

The COVID-19 Temporary Caregiver Grant is intended to help alleviate the unprecedented burdens COVID-19 has imposed on caregivers. This temporary, emergency response program provides taxable grants of up to $1,500 to help qualifying full-time faculty and staff offset the costs of caregiving for their dependent children or dependent adults and seniors during the current academic year. This income-tiered program is structured to ensure that funds go to those who need them most with few administrative hurdles. Applications will be accepted through the end of Spring Quarter 2021. Learn more here. 

Global and Domestic Travel

What travel is still permissible by the University?

April 6, 2021

In general, all travel should be limited or delayed wherever possible to promote the safety of our community and to contain costs. This policy applies to all Northwestern community members regardless of whether or not they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The policy remains in effect until further notice.

Please leverage technology solutions like phone calls, email, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams to engage with those outside of our campus. Additional information about University guidelines on travel and visitors is available on the University’s coronavirus/COVID-19 website.

Event Planning

What opportunities are there to remain connected with the postdoc community?

March 20, 2020

The OPA and Northwestern Postdoctoral Association (NUPA) are looking for innovative ways to help postdoctoral traineess connect while practicing social distancing. We encourage you to join the NUPA Slack Channel, where you can share pictures of pets, join community lunches and coffee breaks, and suggestions for your remote social plans.  

Bias and Discrimination

I have been the target of bias or a hate-related incident during the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. What should I do?

April 16, 2020

You are encouraged to submit any bias or hate-related incidents that you observe through the University’s Hate and Bias Report Form.

If I witness or hear acts of discrimination or sexual misconduct, whom do I contact?

April 16, 2020

Please contact the Office of Equity for assistance.

COVID-19 Safety, Testing, and Vaccines

Where should I report concerns about health and safety protocols?

April 23, 2021

Graduate students and postdoctoral trainees should report any COVID-19 compliance concerns by emailing Trainees may also contact their chairs or others to discuss their concerns.

A hotline also is available for faculty, staff, postdoctoral trainees, and students to report concerns on the Chicago (312.503.3437) and Evanston (847.467.8840) campuses.

How do I get a COVID-19 test at Northwestern?

April 23, 2021

COVID-19 testing is available for Northwestern University postdoctoral trainees. Both Color tests and Abbott rapid tests are available to postdoctoral trainees on a walk-in basis. Testing is quick and easy and no appointments are required. Postdoctoral trainees working on campus are encouraged to follow University guidelines on testing. Please visit the University's COVID-19 testing page for details.

Am I eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

April 23, 2021

Effective Monday, April 12, everyone ages 16 and older in Illinois is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

As a reminder, because vaccine supply remains limited, eligibility does not guarantee a vaccine will be immediately available. Regardless of vaccination status, everyone must continue following public health guidelines, including wearing masks and social distancing. 

Where can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

April 23, 2021

A list of vaccination locations is available on Northwestern’s COVID-19 Vaccine Updates page.

What steps should I take once I receive my vaccine?

April 23, 2021

As a reminder, any student, faculty, staff or student who becomes fully vaccinated through a location other than Northwestern University is strongly encouraged to disclose to the University (1) the type of vaccine received (e.g. Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) and (2) the date(s) of vaccination. Students, faculty and staff can complete their disclosures here.

These disclosures are entirely voluntary but are extremely helpful in gauging how many community members have received the vaccine so far, and how many still need it. By providing this information, you can help enable us to share more information with public health agencies and advocate for more vaccine supplies for our community.  

Last Updated: April 23, 2021