University status and response
Last reviewed 6 January 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.
**NEW 6 January 2021** National lockdown – implications for Hilary Term
On Wednesday 30 December, the UK Government published new guidance about which students are allowed to return to universities in the New Year. This was updated on 4 January, with the announcement of a national lockdown. Information about our Hilary term plans can be found on our student coronavirus web pages. In light of these developments the University has moved to Stage 3 of its business continuity planning framework from 5 January 2021.
This means that while University and college buildings will remain open for on-site working and research, teaching and learning will need to take place online for the time being, apart from the courses outlined in government guidance where in-person teaching is permitted.
Data from Oxford University's Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service
|Total tests in the week||Positive tests in the week||Positivity rate (% of positive results)|
|Total tests since start|
(20 August 2020)
|Positive tests since start||Positivity rate since start|
Above: positive COVID-19 tests reported by the University's testing service in the 8 weeks up to 15 January 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 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.
The University is at Stage 3 of its emergency response framework (see 'emergency response stages' below), and in Tier 3 of the Department for Education’s 'tiers of restrictions'.
In line with recent government guidance, 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.
The University will continue to keep its emergency response status under constant review in light of Government and local health authority advice.
The University maintains a number of key measures in place to keep our community safe.
- Arrangements are in place to facilitate government guidance on the delayed return of some students for Hilary term. See our student coronavirus hub for more information.
- The Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service is available to staff and students at both the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) city centre testing site and the Old Road Campus testing site in Headington. 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.
- A limited number of Bodleian Libraries are open for University card members; please see the Libraries' Hilary term guidance for details. A wide range of resources remain available online.
- The Ashmolean Museum, Museum of Natural History, Pitt 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 currently closed. The University Parks remain open; please practise social distancing while using the space.
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 3 as outlined below.
Current status: Stage 3
|4||Physical 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|
|3||No 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.|
|2||University 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.|
|1||Emphasis 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.|
|0||The University operates as usual|
For information about the status of individual buildings, colleges and departments, please refer to local websites.
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).