University status and response | University of Oxford
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Status and phasing

University status and response

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.

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

Data from Oxford University's testing service for the week 17-23 October
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

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. University testing figures do not correspond exactly to those reported for Oxford as a whole. We are working with Public Health England to resolve the issue.

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

Current status

(Last reviewed 29 October 2020)

**NEW 29 October 2020** Change in alert level in Oxford 

The COVID-19 alert level for Oxford City will move to ‘high’ on Saturday 31 October. In line with Government guidance, the University will continue to remain open and operating, with no change to its own business continuity status level, or Department for Education tier level. 

Oxfordshire as a whole remains in the UK Government’s ‘medium’ COVID alert level. 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’.

In line with all relevant guidance, teaching and research is currently being conducted in-person when it is safe for both students and staff, with teaching supplemented by online lectures, resources and support.

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.

The University will continue to keep its emergency response status under constant review in light of Government and local health authority advice.

The University has already put a number of key measures in place to keep our community safe.

At present:

  • The Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service has opened. The online booking service is now live for staff and students. The service is available 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.
  • All students are back for Michaelmas (autumn) term 2020. See our student coronavirus hub for more information.
  • To support all students, colleges have instigated safety precautions in key areas (eg student arrival, housekeeping, catering, lodge, teaching spaces, etc).
  • The University is running a phased return to working process to ensure 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.
  • The Ashmolean Museum, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, History of Science Museum and some Bodleian Libraries have reopened, and we are working on a phased reopening of other sites during the coming months. A wide range of resources are being made available online and there are additional click and collect services available.
  • The Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum are open; please visit the Garden & Arboretum website for information about how to book. Wytham Woods has started to open and is using a booking system for weekends. The University Parks remain open; please practise social distancing while using the space.
  • The Iffley Road Sports Centre and pool are now open, and student sports activities are continuing in line with relevant guidance.  The University Club remains closed.

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, planning to operate in line with social distancing restrictions with as full a student cohort as possible on site in the Michaelmas Term.

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 or College buildings (except museums, where allowed to open under the government guidance) On-site activity permitted where it cannot be undertaken remotely, Teaching and assessment are undertaken remotely where possible, and gatherings for staff and students only permitted where essential for teaching and assessment to take place.
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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