Purple flowers in front of the chapel doors

College life during Michaelmas term 2020

This page provides information about how College life in Michaelmas term 2020 will be affected by arrangements to keep students and staff safe in the context of Covid-19.

Page last updated 10 September 2020

Continuing uncertainty about the course of the Covid-19 pandemic and the public health measures to which it may lead is inevitably a source of anxiety and concern. Students who will be coming to Oxford for the first time will not begin their university life here in the way that they had expected to do. Students who are returning for another year will be returning to changed circumstances.

We understand that this prospect may be challenging or difficult for many reasons. We continue to plan for the coming term in the light of current and evolving public health advice, and we recognise that we may need to adjust arrangements in a flexible way, in response to changing circumstances.

We will work hard to support you, but it is important for us to acknowledge that you may need to adjust your expectations of what academic and extra-curricular University and College life will involve. This inevitably includes how you will interact with other students and with academic and non-academic staff in College and elsewhere in the University.

We will all need to make adjustments to the way we live and work because of Covid-19. There are certain actions which are crucial for us all to adopt to make things as safe as possible for everyone in the community. In particular you are asked to: 

  • Keep your distance
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a face covering
  • Got symptoms? Get a test
  • Contacted by track and trace? Stay at home

You can watch a video of students explaining this approach here 

You can find information about the University’s overall approach to teaching and learning in the context of Covid-19 here. Departments and faculties will be providing information directly to students in the coming weeks. 

Because some provision will be online (lectures for example) all students should ensure they have appropriate IT equipment (laptop, webcam and headphones): the University’s advice on IT equipment can be found here.

The rest of the information in this section on Teaching and Learning relates only to Undergraduate and Visiting Students, because all teaching and supervision for Graduate Students is coordinated by departments and faculties.

College classes and tutorials will be provided either face-to-face or online, depending on the preferences and needs of individual tutors and students.

We expect that some tutors will largely teach online while others will wish to teach face-to-face where possible. Your tutors will liaise directly with you about how your teaching will be conducted. This may change during the term according either to your needs or those of your tutor. You will need to keep in contact with your tutors – for example if you are required to self-isolate then you should contact your tutors to arrange for tutorials to take place online rather than face-to-face. 

Where tutorials and classes take place face-to-face, it will be expected that:

  • Social distancing, with 2m distancing, will be observed;
  • Tutors and students will wear a face covering, in line with the University face coverings policy;
  • Maximum room occupancy levels (which will be stated on the door to all teaching rooms) will be respected;
  • All participants will hand-sanitise on entry to the teaching space and will clean hard surfaces at the end of the session, using the cleaning materials provided.

In cases where students’ college teaching is delivered primarily online, Organising Tutors have been asked to ensure that they host individual, group or cohort in-person gatherings intermittently through term to ensure that students have chances to interact with their tutors and fellow students in person.

The College Library will reopen to readers on Monday of 0th week (5 October). You will be able to browse, borrow, and return books so long as you adhere to the social distancing protocols. (Until 5 October, the book-return bins will remain in the Lodge: if you come to College before the start of term, you can leave any returns there.)

We will also introduce a system which will permit you to request books on the Library shelves via SOLO (just as you now can for books already on loan). This will mean that those who do not wish to come into the Library will not need to do so.  But, obviously there will be a delay between placing a request and the time that staff are able to retrieve an item for you.  

You must wear a face covering in the Library, unless you are exempt from doing so under the University face coverings policy, and you must sanitise your hands before entering the Library. Additional sanitising wipes will be provided for use on shared equipment such as the self-issue terminal and the photocopier. You are expected to sanitise such equipment before and after use.

Books returned from loan will be quarantined for 72 hours before being made available again to readers.

Unfortunately, because of the space-constrained layout of the College Library, it will not be possible this term for people to work in the College Library.

Further information from the College Librarian, including about accessing the University’s Bodleian Libraries, is available here

New students are encouraged to watch the Bodleian Libraries’ introductory video for new readers which can be found here.

Until further notice, access to the College (including to the annexes) is limited to members of College only. The only visitors allowed on site are:

  • one parent or supporter delivering students to their room on arrival (asked to wear a face mask and to limit their stay to 30 minutes); 
  • those students coming into College to be taught by a member of academic staff;
  • contractors invited onto site to do necessary work. 

Students from other Colleges coming in to be taught and contractors arriving on site will be expected to sign in and out at the Porters’ Lodge and will have their temperature checked before they are permitted to enter the College site. 

Students may not bring or invite any visitors onto the College site until further notice.

All College buildings, including the Porters’ Lodge, are subject to the University face coverings policy. All members of College are expected to wear a face covering in all indoor shared space, even when 2m or more from others, unless exempt from doing under the wording of the policy, and to hand-sanitise on entry to the site and frequently thereafter. On occasions, all members of College may have their temperature checked as they pass through the Lodge. 

Cleaning of high-touch areas (door handles, bannisters, key communal areas) will take place frequently.

The information in this section applies to students living in College accommodation (on the main site or in the annexes). 

Each student living in College accommodation will be allocated to a ‘Household’. A Household will be a group of people living in close proximity and sharing bathroom and/or kitchen facilities.

A Household is a way to control the risk of infection if someone contracts Covid-19. It means that you will only share close proximity with a limited number of people, and that measures can be put in place to alert you if someone in your Household tests positive for Covid-19. Further information is provided in the Health section below. You do not have to socially distance from people in your Household, but you will be expected to maintain a social distance of 2m from all individuals not in your Household.

Households will vary in size. Often they will be between 4 and 11 students (Undergraduate Freshers are likely to be in groups of six or seven, depending on the number of students sharing bathroom facilities in their buildings). Household size in the annexes will depend on the number of students sharing a kitchen – the biggest household will be in St George’s Gate as there is only one shared kitchen. 

Undergraduate Freshers will be allocated to Households in ways that ensure that students have an opportunity to socialise with a diverse group members of their cohort, especially those studying different subjects. Any returning Undergraduate students living in College who wish to express a preference to be grouped in a Household with someone else already allocated to the same building as them should contact accommodation@spc.ox.ac.uk as soon as possible. 

Where Households have shared bathrooms or kitchens, these will be clearly labelled indicating to which Household they are allocated. You must not use facilities allocated to any Household except your own. You must clean shared facilities yourself – using the cleaning materials provided – every time you use them. 

Special arrangements are in place in relation to the JCR Kitchen: this is available for use only by students on the main site who don’t have an allocated kitchen for their Household. Given that a large number of students from different Households will be sharing this facility, it will be cleaned twice daily by the Scouts and each user must also hand sanitise before entry and thoroughly wipe down all areas used with the cleaning materials provided.

In all kitchens, including the JCR Kitchen, the Scouts do not wash up crockery or cooking implements; this remains your responsibility. You must wash up items used to prepare each meal immediately after use and not leave dirty items in the kitchen. Scouts may remove dirty items from kitchens if left unattended.

The College aims to provide a comprehensive catering service with the emphasis on enabling students to access cooked meals in a social – but distanced – setting. Catering staff will be well briefed, wear face masks, and gloves when serving and there will be hand sanitising facilities available on entry to the Hannington Hall. Payment remains cashless. 

The capacity of the Hall will be limited to ensure appropriate social distancing, but mealtimes will be extended to compensate for this, and take-out will be permitted if students bring their own plate or container. 

Weekdays:    breakfast 8:00–9:00; lunch 12:00–14:00; dinner 17:30–19.30
Weekends:     brunch 11:00–13:00; dinner 17.30–19.30

In order to help manage capacity and demand, and prevent the preparation of unwanted food, students are asked, as far as possible, to notify the Hall in advance of their intention to eat lunch or dinner via UPay; further details about how to do this will be provided by email. New Undergraduates and Visiting Students will not need to do this for any meals before dinner on Thursday 9 October. 

Clear signage will show you where to go and what to do in the Hall. Unless you are with a member of your own Household, you will need to remain socially distanced in the queue. Everyone will need to wear a face covering on the stairs and on their way through the servery. You should only remove your face covering once you are seated in the Hall with your food. Hall staff will help direct you to a seat to ensure appropriate distancing from other diners, and transparent screens will be used in some places as additional mitigations.

You can only sit directly next to or opposite someone from your own Household; otherwise, an appropriate social distance needs to be maintained. A one-way system through the Hall means that you will enter by one door and leave by another.

Formal Hall – which usually takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in term time – will not take place in the first few weeks of term; decisions about formal dinners later in term will be made in due course. 

We appreciate that social distancing requirements and Government limits concerning the number of people who can gather for social events will affect the way you can interact with other students and that this will be frustrating at times. However it is essential that we all work together to reduce the risk of infection spreading within the College community.

Many University clubs and societies moved online with some success in Trinity term 2020, and we expect there will be a mix of in-person and online activities during Michaelmas term 2020. You can find more information here.

New students and returning students will all be able to attend the Virtual Freshers’ Fair on Wednesday 7 October 2020 to find out about hundreds of student societies and clubs from across the collegiate University. 

Social activities within College will necessarily be affected by social distancing requirements. The JCR and MCR Committees are working on designing events to help new students to meet each other while still maintaining 2m distance between those from different Households, insofar as these are possible under Government rules about social gatherings.

The JCR and MCR will both be open for student use during Michaelmas term, but students will be expected to ensure that the maximum capacity of each venue is never exceeded and the University face covering policy applies in all inside spaces. There will be a marquee on Linton Quad throughout Michaelmas Term to provide additional sheltered weatherproof space for events and for students to study and to hang out. There will, however, be a strict closing time for the marquee each evening to ensure that students with rooms nearby are not unduly disturbed.

Given that more social activities will need to take place outside or in venues with additional ventilation, you are strongly advised to ensure you bring sufficient warm and waterproof clothing and footwear to Oxford for the coming term!

Discussions are ongoing about the possibility of opening the Bar during Michaelmas term 2020. The Bar will not be open at the start of term, and plans to reopen it, with all necessary mitigations in place, will be dependent both on the sustained health of the community and on students complying with the social distancing requirements across the College site.

All University of Oxford students are asked to sign the Covid-19 Student Responsibility Agreement to affirm their commitment to protecting the health of everyone in College, the University and the wider Oxford community.

The Agreement is an affirmation of shared values – community, consideration for others, patience, tolerance, and inclusion. It supplements your existing responsibilities under University and College politics (as set out in your contracts with the University and the College) and is designed to support community safety and well-being.

All students, both new and returning, are asked to sign a copy of the Agreement (Word doc, 701 KB)  and return it to College. An electronic signature is acceptable. You can return your signed Agreement by uploading it via the College’s Student Portal.

The University website provides regularly updated information and advice for all students about their health, welfare, and wellbeing in the light of Covid-19

Overview of what will happen if there is a case, or suspected case, of Covid-19

This section provides outline information about what would happen if you, or another student member of College, had suspected Covid-19.

If you have Covid-19 symptoms…

You will need to: 

  • stay in your room;
  • book a covid-19 test, preferably via the University testing service (see below);
  • notify the College (by phoning the Porters’ Lodge or emailing covid@spc.ox.ac.uk) that you have symptoms and have booked a test;
  • notify the key contact in your department or faculty that you have symptoms and have booked a test;
  • self-isolate until the test results are received.

If you have a test and the result is negative

You, the College and your department/faculty will receive the confirmation of the negative test result. You will be able to stop self-isolating (as long as no one else in your Household is awaiting test results or has received a positive test result). 

If you have a test and the result is positive 

You, the College and your department/faculty will receive the confirmation of the positive test result. You will need to self-isolate for 10 days from when the symptoms started, or until you are symptom-free (whichever is later).

If you are living in College and another student in your Household has Covid-19 symptoms

If another member of your Household has entered self-isolation with the main symptoms of Covid-19 you will be contacted by the College (if you are living in College accommodation) and instructed to self-isolate while the test results for the student with symptoms are awaited.

If another student in your Household within College receives a negative test result

The College (if you are living in College accommodation) will contact you to let you know that you can stop self-isolating (as long as no one else in your Household is awaiting test results or has received a positive test result).

If another student in your Household within College receives a positive test result

You will be contacted by the College and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days. 

The University testing service 

The University has a dedicated testing service in place. Managed in collaboration with the UK’s national health service, the NHS, it ensures students and staff can have easy access to a Covid-19 test if they think they have symptoms. There are two testing sites – one in central Oxford and one in Headington, with an online booking service available. It is free to access. Results will be available within 24 hours, and the University will support Public Health England with contact tracing.

In order to access the testing service, you will need to know your NHS number, so please check you know this! If you are a non-UK student and you have not previously registered with a UK doctor please register with the College Doctors (go to www.campusdoctor.co.uk/oxford and follow the instructions) so that you get an NHS number. UK students registered elsewhere should also register with the College Doctors as soon as possible (if you have not already done so).

You can find out more about the Covid-19 testing service here.

If you are staying in College accommodation and have to self-isolate, and you cannot cook for yourself, College will help support you. This could include the supply of delivered meals or provisions where required. We advise you to keep a limited amount of non-perishable ready-to-eat food supplies in your room in case you need to self-isolate.

If you are unwell, the College’s Welfare team will keep in touch with you and assist in making any medical arrangements if necessary.

If you are living in private accommodation away from the College and have to self-isolate, we will stay in touch with you and can help support you if necessary. We advise you to keep some food supplies in case you have to self-isolate, including easy-to-prepare items.

If you are self-isolating, you can continue to access teaching on your course online, if you feel fit to do so. You will need to liaise with your tutors to arrange this. 

The information immediately above relates to instances where students need to self-isolate during term-time because of suspected or actual infection. Information for students needing to self-isolate on arrival in the UK from abroad can be found here.

The College’s Welfare team is available to support students, both remotely and in-person.

The University’s Student Welfare and Support Services (SWSS) provides a range of specialist welfare services to all students at the University. This includes counselling (one-to-one and group sessions), support for disabled students, support for students who have experienced sexual violence, and mediation

Provision is currently available to all students online (by video, chat or email) and by telephone and the University anticipates that most of this provision will remain online during Michaelmas term.