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Status and phasing

University status and response

Last reviewed 14 April 2021

Information about the University’s current status, and its approach to responding to COVID-19.

The University is acting on advice from sources including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, World Health Organization, the NHS and Public Health England. Our own academic experts in infectious diseases and other relevant subjects are involved in our response to coronavirus.

**UPDATED 14 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.

A University roadmap summarises the loosening of restrictions in each of the four steps set out in the Government’s plan, and how the University’s different business continuity (BCP) phases align to them. Conference of Colleges has developed a corresponding plan for colleges.

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.

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). The University and colleges are now urgently reviewing the guidance as a priority, and we will provide further information as soon as possible. More information about the arrangements for Trinity term and the return of students to Oxford can be found on our student coronavirus webpages. We appreciate your continued patience while we wait for the updated guidance.  

The University’s full BCP plan is available now available for staff and students (SSO required). It summarises the restrictions under each of the four steps set out in the Government’s plan and how the University’s BCP Stages align to each of them.

Data from Oxford University's Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service

Data from Oxford University's testing service for the week 18 – 7 May
Total tests in the weekPositive tests in the weekPositivity rate (% of positive results)
3825.3%
Total tests since start
(20 August 2020)
Positive tests since startPositivity rate since start
7,1641,26417.6%

figures and cumulative for week to 7 May 2021 from the OU Testing Service

Above: positive COVID-19 tests reported by the University's testing service in the 8 weeks up to 7 May 2021.

Test results will be updated each Monday to reflect the previous week’s numbers. Please note that the figures on this page include only those tests for which we have received a result, and do not include positive test results received outside of the University testing service. Due to the time interval between a test being done and the result becoming available, it is expected that there will be a mismatch between actual results and those confirmed to us on any given day.

The University takes the privacy of its staff and students very seriously. Detailed privacy policies are available through the University's testing site.

Data from Oxford University’s Hilary term Lateral Flow Device testing programme*

Under the Hilary Term Lateral Flow Device testing programme, students were invited to take three lateral flow tests when they returned for Oxford after the winter vacation. These were on the day they arrived, three days later, and on their tenth day in Oxford. Individuals who received a positive LFT result were asked to take a confirmatory test via the Early Alert Service, and those results will have been reflected separately in the data from that service published above.

  • Total number of students taking one or more LFT tests: 3,076
  • Total positive tests recorded: 15
  • Positivity rate: 0.18%

*Data correct as of Friday 26 February

Data from Oxford University’s Christmas Travel Tests programme*

Under the Christmas Travel Tests programmes, students were invited to take two lateral flow tests, three days apart, before they returned home for the Christmas vacation in December 2020. Individuals who received a positive LFT result were asked to take a confirmatory test via the Early Alert Service, and those results will have been reflected separately in the data from that service published above.

  • Total number of students taking one or more LFT tests: 4,536
  • Total positive tests recorded: 27
  • Positivity rate: 0.59%

 *Data correct as of Thursday 17 December

EAS Michaelmas term report

Professor David Mant, outgoing EAS Clinical Director, provides a comprehensive analysis of University testing last term.

Current status

The University is at Stage 2 of its emergency response framework (see 'emergency response stages' below), and in Tier 1 of the Department for Education’s 'tiers of restrictions' for students being taught in person (and at Tier 3 for other students).

The University and colleges have outlined plans for resuming additional activities in line with the Government’s plans for gradually easing lockdown restrictions. 

A University roadmap summarises the loosening of restrictions in each of the four steps set out in the Government’s plan, and how the University’s different business continuity (BCP) phases align to them. Conference of Colleges has developed a corresponding plan for colleges.  The University roadmap is available for staff and students.

The University maintains a number of key measures in place to keep our community safe.

At present:

  • The UK Government has confirmed that for students on non-practical courses, in-person teaching should not resume until 17 May at the earliest. More information about the arrangements for Trinity term and the return of students to Oxford can be found on our student coronavirus webpages
  • The Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service is available to staff and students, providing testing for those with coronavirus symptoms and LFD tests for those participating in regular testing. Tests can be booked via the COVID testing booking site.
  • To support all students, colleges have instigated safety precautions in key areas (eg student arrival/departure, housekeeping, catering, lodge, teaching spaces, etc).
  • The University's return to work programme ensures workspaces are safe, with appropriate safety measures and guidance in operation for each type of environment. Please see our Return to Onsite Working pages for more information. Staff must not return to working in their normal place of work ('on-site working') unless they have been formally notified that they can do so by their department; professional services staff should only return to, or continue on-site working, where there are clear benefits to enabling staff and teams to work effectively and productively. 
  • We remain committed to supporting staff in undertaking their own personal risk assessments, and considering on an individual basis how their personal circumstances need to be taken into account in assessing whether, and how much, in-person teaching may be appropriate.
  • Nearly all of the Bodleian Libraries are open for University card members; please see the Libraries' service updates for details. A wide range of resources remain available online.
  • The Ashmolean MuseumMuseum of Natural HistoryPitt Rivers Museum and History of Science Museum are closed until further notice. Visitors are welcome to explore the museums’ online resources and collections.
  • The Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum are both open; please book before visiting. Wytham Woods is open; please book a place before visiting. The University Parks remain open; please practise social distancing while using the space.
  • Further outdoor sport activity can resume subject to NGB and specific government advice.

We continue to monitor the situation closely, and to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our University community.

Emergency response stages

We have worked to identify a number of ways the University and Colleges can operate during the current pandemic. These are intended to allow the collegiate University to remain operating as much as possible, while keeping our staff and students safe.

The University will operate at a stage that reflects the broader public health environment. We are currently at Stage 2 as outlined below.

Current status: Stage 2

Planning stageDescription
4Physical closure of the majority of University and College buildings. Parks and open spaces open to the public. Departments physically closed. Staff work remotely where possible. Only core support functions continue
3No public access to the University (including museums), except the Botanic Gardens and Arboretum. On-site activity permitted where it cannot be undertaken remotely. On-site research is allowed and encouraged where it cannot be carried out remotely – and enabled by the availability of COVID-secure environment. Teaching and assessment should take place remotely for the majority of taught students. In-person teaching will be permitted from the start of term for those courses/subjects explicitly exempted by Government and in cases where the requirements of Professional, Statutory or Regulatory body accreditation demand it. Libraries will prioritise remote and zero-contact digital services.
2University operates in line with social distancing restrictions with as full a student cohort as possible on site; teaching and assessment taking place with the optimum combination of in-person teaching and online learning; and the minimum possible reduction in research capacity. Some areas of the University open to public in line with social distancing restrictions.
1Emphasis on in-person vs remote learning and assessment, and on-site working vs remote working.  Increased public access including to public spaces, colleges (including conference facilities), and non-teaching and education related events.
0The University operates as usual

For information about the status of individual buildings, colleges and departments, please refer to local websites.

Continuity planning

The University remains committed to furthering its mission of teaching and research throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked to identify a number of ways the University and Colleges can operate as fully as possible. Colleagues looking for more detailed information should refer to the contingency planning page.

Equality and diversity

For information on how the University has addressed equality and diversity issues in its response, please see this summary (PDF) or an accessible Word version (DOCX).

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