Keeping our community safe and well | University of Oxford
Image showing the five behaviours to make things as safe as possible - Keep your distance, Wash your hands, Wear a face covering, Get a test, Stay at home
Five behaviours to make things as safe as possible - Keep your distance, Wash your hands, Wear a face covering, Get a test, Stay at home

Keeping our community safe and well

The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and the wider community is our highest priority in the 2020/21 academic year. Things will be different this year, and we will all need to make adjustments to the way we live and work.

Latest updates (23 November 2020)

Testing and self-isolation are vital for protecting the community from COVID-19. It is important that you know when to get tested through the University’s dedicated testing service and when to stay at home. Please review the updated information on the Testing for COVID-19 page of the University's coronavirus website and this flowchart – so that you can help to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Health Campaign

Our health campaign in response to COVID-19 has been created with guidance from the University’s medical and behavioural experts and with feedback from divisional and college colleagues. Our video and supporting materials focus on the actions that all of us to must adopt to make things as safe as possible for everyone in the community: 

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

Please respect that some people are exempt from wearing a face covering. They may choose to wear a badge or sunflower lanyard to indicate this, but these are not compulsory.

Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service

If you have any of the primary symptoms of COVID-19, visit the University’s Testing Service (SSO required) to book a test and consult this flowchart for the process you need to follow.

Remember the University has finite testing capacity, so it is important that we target it where it is most needed. You should only book a test if you have any of the primary symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell).

Students participating in FACTs COVID-19 testing research

The University is now taking part in research to assess the use of Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs), to identify asymptomatic individuals with COVID-19. Currently students in two colleges are able use the tests on a voluntary basis. This may expand to other parts of the University in the future depending on the progress of the study.

Students who receive positive tests in the research study need to take a confirmatory test through the University’s EAS testing service (or via the NHS if this is not possible). In line with Government advice, students may not travel between University and their permanent home. Everyone should be aware that a negative test does not change this – whether a student received their result through the research project or the University testing service.

NHS COVID-19 app

We encourage you to use the NHS COVID-19 app, which includes a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in.

Important: the app directs users to the NHS testing service. However, Oxford staff and students should always, where possible, use the University’s own testing service instead. You cannot use the NHS app to book a test at the University service. Instead you should visit the Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service pages to book a test.

Protective measures in our facilities

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all staff and students is of paramount importance and is why we have introduced a range of measures to protect you when you are in University and college buildings. These include:

  • Enhanced cleaning regimes, and additional facilities for increased hand washing and hand sanitising;
  • Spaces adapted to support social distancing with clear signage and markings;
  • Additional measures such as Perspex screens and barriers in areas where social distancing is more difficult such as in some teaching laboratories;
  • Face coverings are required during in-person teaching and in indoor shared spaces with exceptions being made for those students and staff who are exempt. Go to the face coverings page for more information.

The University’s measures are informed by an expert advisory group comprising Oxford clinical academics, as well as government guidance. We will continue to follow UK government advice and make detailed contingency plans in case additional measures are required.


COVID-19 impacts the way we work, study and interact with one another. These changes are not always welcome and can lead to anxiety. These feelings can be more acute if you have a mental illness. If you have worries around COVID-19, the University has a number of resource choices or options available to offer to staff and students. It’s important not to suffer in silence. If you’re a student, help and information can be found on our student welfare and wellbeing page. There are also online resources and guidance for staff.

Protect our community. Protect the vulnerable. Protect yourself.

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