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Status and phasing

University status and response

Last reviewed 13 July 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.

**ADDED 13 JULY 2021** University arrangements after 19 July
The UK Government has now confirmed that it plans to move to Step 4 of its Roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Monday 19 July. However, with rates of COVID-19 in Oxford 70% above the national average, all staff and students working and studying on site should continue to follow all existing University health guidance. Staff should carry on following Return to On-site Working principles.  This position will be kept under constant review in coming weeks and will adapt as the local and national situation evolves.  

**ADDED 10 July 2021 ** Updated COVID-19 advice for Oxford City
COVID-19 case numbers in Oxford remain very high, and those in Oxford are being asked to take additional action. This includes additional testing, getting vaccinated, and being cautious about non-essential travel in and out of the city to help stop the spread of the virus.

More information has now been published for staff and students on the student and health pages of the University coronavirus website. 

**ADDED 25 June 2021** Arrangements for students in the 2021/22 academic year

We are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students to Oxford for the start of the 2021/22 academic year. Initial information about the University’s approach to teaching, learning and assessment, health and safety and student life has now been published on the students section of this site.

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

Data from Oxford University's testing service for the week 24 July - 30 July
Total tests in the weekPositive tests in the weekPositivity rate (% of positive results)
Total tests since start
(20 August 2020)
Positive tests since startPositivity rate since start

EAS PCR 30 July

Above: positive COVID-19 tests reported by the University's testing service in the 8 weeks up to 30 July 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:

  • In-person teaching has now been permitted to restart for all students. More information about the arrangements for students in Trinity term can be found on our student coronavirus webpages
  • The Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service is available to staff and students, providing PCR testing and also LFD tests for those participating in regular testing. PCR 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 now open but pre-booking is required.  All four museums are free to visit.
  • The Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum are both open; please book before visiting. Entry is free for University staff and students. 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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