Staff | University of Oxford
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Last reviewed 16 April 2021

Despite the significant upheaval caused by coronavirus, the University has continued to perform its vital role of delivering world-class teaching and research. As we continue the 2020/21 academic year and adjust to new ways of delivering teaching and undertaking research, our first priority remains the health, safety and wellbeing of our people.

During the pandemic the University has put in place a number of staff support measures. To find out more visit our HR coronavirus webpages. There you will find sources of help for all staff - and a number specific to academic, research and teaching colleagues. 

We will continue to review the measures to keep our community safe and our COVID-19 emergency response status in light of Government and local health authority advice.

Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and understanding during this challenging and uncertain time.

Latest updates 

**NEW 9 April** Launch of staff and student regular symptom-free (LFD) testing
Staff and students who are working or studying on site will be able to access regular symptom-free (Lateral Flow Device) testing twice a week, every week in Trinity term  starting from Monday 12 April. The new symptom-free (LFD) testing centres are located in easy-to-access sites around Oxford and  follow strict safety  measures. More information concerning the testing can be found on the new symptom-free testing webpage, and see below for further details.

**UPDATED 16 April** Updates following the UK Government’s updated guidance
The University and colleges have outlined plans for resuming additional activities in line with the Government’s plans for gradually easing lockdown restrictions. The University has moved to Stage 2 of its Business Continuity Planning framework with effect from Monday 12 April. There will be limited on-site working for a broader range of staff, and a number of additional students will return to in-person teaching. Please see the University's coronavirus status page for more information.

The UK Government updated its guidance for higher education institutions on Tuesday 13 April. This includes confirmation that for students on non-practical courses, in-person teaching should not resume until 17 May at the earliest (alongside Step 3 of the Government’s Roadmap for easing national restrictions). More information about the arrangements for Trinity term and the return of students to Oxford can be found on our student coronavirus webpages.

COVID-19 testing

Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service (SSO required)

  • Visit the University’s Testing Service if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Consult this flowchart for the process you need to follow. Rapid identification and isolation of positive cases is essential to slow the spread of the virus. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home or immediately return home and book a test.
  • If you receive a test result (positive or negative) through a route other than the University's Early Alert Service (eg via the national NHS service), you must report your result by using the Report a Test button on the University's Testing page, continue to self-isolate, and report your absence to your department and college. The information you provide will enable the University and/or your college to take any action that may be appropriate to protect our community, and to maintain a full picture of the prevalence of COVID-19 within the collegiate University. 

**New 9 April 2021** Launch of regular symptom-free (LFD) testing for staff and students

From 12 April, staff and students who are working or studying on site will be able to take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test twice a week at one of the University’s new symptom-free testing centres. Regular testing is an important way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 because it helps to identify COVID cases in people who have no symptoms, but are still at risk of infecting others. You should participate in the testing even if you have been vaccinated.

Full details – including a link to book your testing slots – can be found on the new regular symptom-free testing page. Testing centres are located at the University Club on Mansfield Road; St Luke’s Chapel at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on Woodstock Road; and at the Richard Doll Building on Old Road Campus.

Testing is voluntary but we strongly encourage everyone who is working or studying on site to get tested twice a week, every week throughout Trinity term, including those staff who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 90 days ago. Staff are requested to discuss with their line manager if they need to perform a test inside working hours. We appreciate there will have to be some flexibility in order for staff to attend the testing centres.

It is possible to order LFD tests via a number of other routes – details of which can be found on the Government website. Staff may choose to use non-University testing routes (for example, if they are not in Oxford, or they have irregular work patterns) where it minimises travel or is more convenient.

Anyone who tests positive in any LFD tests (including those via community testing or received from the Government via another route), must self-isolate immediately and book a confirmatory PCR test, preferably through the University’s Early Alert Service. If staff receive a PCR test result, positive or negative, through a route other than the University Early Alert service (eg via the national NHS service), they must report their result by using the University’s Report a Test Result page.

Support for managing COVID-19 cases

Contacts for COVID-19 cases

If you're a Single Point of Contact or a staff member dealing with the response to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 here are some useful contact points for any queries.

For staff enquiries related to booking a University
For queries from Single Points of Contact or college nurses about managing individual positive cases, including public
For staff operational queries or advice about the implementation of case management protocolsWithin office hours
Outside of office hours or in the event of a serious incident
01865 289999

COVID-19 case response protocols (SSO required)

Work-related guidance

**New 12 April 2021** Guidance for on-site working (SSO required) 

The University is at Stage 2 of its Business Continuity Planning (BCP) framework. This means that most staff should continue to work from home where they can until 21 June, in line with national restrictions. However, there may be limited on-site working for a broader range of staff where there are clear benefits to enabling staff and teams to work effectively and productively and there is full agreement between the member(s) of staff involved and their line manager or supervisor. This limited return to on-site working is separate to the development of a framework for New Ways of Working which the University is about to pilot in a small number of departments and then make available more widely in advance of mid-June, when Government restrictions on office working are expected to be loosened. All staff who are considering on-site working are advised to refer to the return to on-site working page for the latest information.

The University and colleges have outlined a roadmap for moving BCP stages, with an associated loosening of restrictions, to reopen the University and colleges, in line with the Government’s plans for gradually easing lockdown restrictions. The latest information can be found on the University status and response page. The plans will be kept under review, and any changes to Government phasing are likely to impact University and college arrangements. 

The section below provides information on the UK restrictions and and how they impact on-site working for staff.

On-site working and research

  • There is no requirement to close buildings.  
  • On-site research is allowed and encouraged where it cannot be carried out remotely, enabled by the availability of a COVID-secure environment. Research which requires on-site facilities will continue subject to practical arrangements set at Departmental level to ensure COVID-secure facilities. 
  • Gatherings of staff and students are only permitted where essential for teaching and assessment to take place. Only small gatherings are allowed, with preference for continued use of video conferencing even for staff in the same buildings. 
  • You must continue following all University and Government health advice – even if you have already had the vaccine. The outlook is more optimistic this term, and restrictions are gradually easing – but the pandemic is not yet over. Strict adherence to COVID-secure working will help to minimise the risk of transmission. Colleagues minimising the number of people they interact with, regular handwashing, wearing face coverings and maintaining a two-metre distance remain essential. The experience from previous terms shows that these measures kept working and teaching environments safe. Staff and students are also encouraged to take part in regular symptom-free testing as a further measure to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

We are aware that there could be a range of health vulnerabilities and additional concerns about travelling to work for those with caring responsibilities. For line managers whose staff have concerns, please refer to our guidance. Staff members can access the COVID-vulnerability self-assessment tool for more information.

Visit the Return to On-site Working coronavirus webpage to access the full range of staff and line manager resources.

Please be aware:


Public access

Updated guidance on international travel

Guidance has now been produced for staff and students related to international travel. Current UK Government restrictions only allow international travel for legally permitted reasons which include: (i) for the purposes of work that cannot be undertaken at home; (ii) to access education. All requests for travel from the UK require the advance approval of the relevant Head of Department or Faculty Board Chair, who will also balance the need for the travel against the risks involved. This will ensure that only essential University travel takes place, and only in exceptional circumstances. Requests will only be considered once a risk assessment has been approved by the appropriate supervisor and reviewed by the Safety Office. At this point, the University will issue a University Declaration to Travel Letter. 

You must complete the UK Government’s travel declaration form before you leave the UK, to confirm that you are legally allowed to travel. 

More information for staff is available on the Safety Office’s Coronavirus updates and advice page.

Travel updates (to and from work)

If you are travelling to and from work, please review the government guidance to help keep you safe and have a look at the University's dedicated travel web page. This contains practical support on bus and rail travel as well as car parking and a number of schemes to help staff start cycling.

Health and wellbeing advice and support

Keep protecting yourself and the community 

We are very grateful for all you have done already to protect staff, students and the wider community from COVID-19. While things are now looking a little more optimistic, it is still vital that everyone who is in Oxford continues to follow the University’s health measures to help keep things moving in the right direction: 

  • Keep your distance – 2 metres
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a face covering (unless you’re exempt)
  • Get tested – both regularly, and if you have symptoms
  • Contacted by track and trace? Stay at home.

We realise these measures have been in place for several months, but it’s really important that we all continue to follow all guidance, even if you have already had COVID-19 or have now received the vaccine. This will help to protect our community, and reduce the length of national lockdown measures.

Staff and students who are working or studying on site can now access regular symptom-free Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing at one of the University’s designated testing sites. 

If you need communications resources to help share the health messages with colleagues or students in your college or department, take a look at our Health Campaign Communications pack (SSO required). 

NHS COVID-19 app

Download the NHS COVID-19 app, which is available on smartphones from Google Play and the Apple App Store. We encourage you to use the app as it includes a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. Tracing recent close contacts of anyone who has tested positive is important for containing the virus.

Mental health and wellbeing

COVID-19 has disrupted our work and personal lives and some of us will feel the need for additional support. The University has put in place mental health and wellbeing resources to support staff during this challenging time. Information about these along with signposting to external sources of help can be found on our HR coronavirus webpages.

Support for staff who might be suffering with long COVID

Some people who contract COVID-19 continue to experience signs and symptoms of the illness for an extended period.  The National Institute for Clinical Evidence published guidance in December 2020 which sets out the following definitions:

  • Acute COVID-19: signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for up to 4 weeks.
  • Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19: signs and symptoms of COVID-19 from 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Post-COVID-19 syndrome: signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID-19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

In addition to the clinical case definitions, 'long COVID' is commonly used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after acute COVID‑19. It includes both ongoing symptomatic COVID‑19 and post‑COVID‑19 syndrome (defined above).

The national clinical guidance also sets out the support patients should receive from NHS doctors, therapists and staff, including an online rehab service Your COVID Recovery.

Staff suffering with long COVID will be primarily supported in their recovery by their GP and other NHS medical professionals, and the University has a very generous sickness absence policy and comprehensive sickness management arrangements which allow extended periods of paid leave. 

Our University Occupational Health Service can advise on issues such as where a phased return to work programme may be required, and how to keep an employee safe while in work and manage any risks to health in the workplace by suggesting adaptations or adjustments. All employees are assessed on an individual and holistic basis following the completion of a Management Referral form from an individual’s line manager or HR contact. The Clinical team have extensive expertise in supporting staff suffering with, or returning to work after, a period of absence caused by a range of serious or chronic illnesses and conditions and are already supporting individuals with symptoms relating to long COVID within the University.

Support for staff with childcare or caring responsibilities

National lockdown childcare and nursery arrangements 

Early years settings are permitted to stay open. For other childcare please check with your provider. Our nurseries and Childcare Services have a wealth of information for staff, and you should not hesitate to contact them if you have a query.    

For more details on nurseries and the new national restrictions, please consult the Government Webpage, where you will also find information on childcare bubbles. In addition, there is specific guidance on nursery arrangements at the University. 

Advice for staff with caring responsibilities

Staff with Caring Responsibilities

If you are a parent or caregiver, you might have to undertake caring responsibilities as schools, nurseries and other care facilities close and reopen depending on current restrictions. If this happens, you should continue working from home if possible. If working at home or making alternative care arrangements is difficult, or not possible please explore the options set out in the Coronavirus working from home guide for University staff.

It is always important to keep in regular touch with your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) so that they know when you are working.

Advice relating to staff with school-age children    

Schools in England are now open, and it is expected that those staff who had been furloughed due to caring responsibilities linked to the schools closure have returned to work.  As before, if staff are unable to carry out work because of caring responsibilities relating to COVID-19 (for example due to class or school closures linked to local COVID-19 outbreaks) they will continue to be paid, and they may be placed on furlough, on a full or part-time basis. They should continue to explore all the options available to them to enable them to work (including those set out on the Government website), and should discuss their situation with their line manager. 

Furlough, whether full- or part-time, should only be used where all other options have been explored, and for a minimum period of seven days.  Managers should read the guidance on furlough before discussing this with affected staff members. 

Where necessary, departments should consider adjusting the working patterns, and/or the work expected of, affected staff to allow them to balance their responsibilities.   

Colleagues in colleges should speak to college contacts for advice on arrangements. 

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