Keeping our community safe and well | University of Oxford
A view of Oxford from South Park showing spires and trees with the text 'Protect our community. Protect the vulnerable. Protect yourself.'
Oxford University COVID-19 Response: Protect our community. Protect the vulnerable. Protect yourself.

Keeping our community safe and well

Protect our community. Protect the vulnerable. Protect yourself.

Oxford University and its colleges plan to open to students at all levels for the 2020/21 academic year, and we look forward to welcoming all new and continuing students for Michaelmas term.

The health and safety of all who study and work here is our highest priority,  and we will all need to make adjustments to the way we live and work. There are certain actions that are crucial for all of us 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

The University’s measures are informed by an expert advisory group made of Oxford clinical academics as well as government guidance. We will continually improve and update these measures as we seek to take account of the concerns of academic and non-academic staff and of students, as well as changing national guidelines. 

The principles which guide or planning are three-fold:

1. Testing service

The University, in collaboration with the NHS, has opened an in-house COVID-19 testing service to supplement NHS provision, so that all academic and non-academic staff and students of the University and the colleges can have easy access to a COVID-19 test if they think they have symptoms. The Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service provides assurance to them, and their families, that any new case of COVID-19 at the University will be identified, and action taken to prevent transmission, at the earliest possible moment. This service will also help protect our local community, and ensure that the University does not put an extra burden on our local NHS facilities as we welcome students and staff back to the University from the autumn. It is currently operational, providing free access to rapid testing for all staff and students. 

Book a COVID-19 test

2. Protective measures

Our testing service forms part of a comprehensive health regime that operates across University and college buildings and facilities, in which ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all staff and students is paramount. Protective measures are in place as buildings re-open, and include:

  • Significantly enhanced cleaning regimes, with regular cleaning of contact points such as door handles, banisters and bathrooms
  • Additional facilities will be in place for everyone to maintain effective hygiene measures, including regular hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitiser
  • Spaces adapted to ensure social distancing and appropriate ventilation, with clear signage and markings, and consideration of timetabling and timings to ensure social distancing measures are effective
  • Social distancing measures in University libraries through capacity limits, spacing of reader seats, one-way systems and enhanced hygiene measures, as well as a ‘seat-finder’ app so that reading room spaces can be easily identified
  • Additional measures such as Perspex screens and barriers in areas where social distancing is more difficult, such as in laboratories and some forms of practical teaching
  • Face coverings will be required during face-to-face teaching and in indoor shared spaces, with exceptions for both individuals and settings where they are not appropriate (for example on grounds of disability)

3. Support for health and wellbeing

We are committed to setting out clear guidance for students and staff about what is expected of them to protect themselves and others, and what they can expect from the University.  A codified set of guidelines - the Student Responsibility Agreement - makes clear the expectations and behaviours we will ask of all our students.

The University and colleges will support all those who work and study here in adhering to government guidance, and in taking the steps necessary to maintain their health and wellbeing. This includes:

Support for students

Support for staff

Was this page useful?*