University status and response | University of Oxford
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Status and phasing

University status and response

Last reviewed 26 February 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 26 February ** Updates following the UK Government’s updated guidance
The University has now updated its plans for the remainder of this academic year, following the Government’s guidance on Monday 22 February. The University remains at Stage 3 of its Business Continuity Planning framework until further notice. This means that staff should continue to work from home where they can, in line with existing guidance. 

The Government has advised that some courses can resume in-person teaching from 8 March, with plans for other courses to be confirmed around Easter. When a student restarts their teaching will depend on their course and level of study. More information about the arrangements for Trinity term and the return of students to Oxford can be found on our student coronavirus webpages.

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

Data from Oxford University's testing service for the week 20 – 26 February
Total tests in the weekPositive tests in the weekPositivity rate (% of positive results)
5411.9%
Total tests since start
(20 August 2020)
Positive tests since startPositivity rate since start
6,7251,24318.5%

Graph showing positive cases of COVID-19 at Oxford University for the previous 8 weeks

Above: positive COVID-19 tests reported by the University's testing service in the 8 weeks up to 26 February 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 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, some courses can resume in-person teaching from 8 March, with plans for other courses to be confirmed around Easter. When a student restarts their teaching will depend on their course and level of study. More information about the arrangements for Trinity term and the return of students to Oxford can be found on our student coronavirus webpages.

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.

At present:

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 

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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