Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice and updates | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Square at twilight
Radcliffe Square at twilight
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Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice and updates

Latest information from the University.

This page has been set up to provide information for anyone at the University with questions or concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19). It will be updated on a regular basis.

Last reviewed 1 April 2020

View all page updates

Page published 29 January 2020

  • 1 April: PVC update added and information about teaching, examinations and assessments in Trinity term
  • 31 March: Staff wellbeing and visa information updated
  • 28 March: VC update added
  • 27 March: critical work question added
  • 26 March: minor text changes and corrections
  • 25 March: moved student related content to a dedicated student advice page.
  • 24 March: a wide range of changes to reflect updates to the UK Government's advice
  • 20 March: updated range of information for students
  • 18 March: updated information for offer-holders based on UK Government's advice
  • 17 March: a wide range of changes to reflect changes to the UK Government's advice 
  • 16 March: Updated travel guidance; information about teaching and learning; Easter vacation advice
  • 14 March: updated with information on seventh positive case in Oxford
  • 13 March: a wide range of changes to reflect the UK Government's move to 'delay' phase of response
  • 12 March: updated with information on additional positive cases in Oxford
  • 11 March: updated with information on second positive case in Oxford
  • 10 March: updated PHE guidance around Oxford cases, updated travel advice
  • 9 March: updated with information on second positive case in Oxford; updated with information for staff and students
  • 7 March: updated with information on positive case in Oxford; travel guidance
  • 6 March: advice for applicants added; self-isolation guidance
  • 4 March: updated hygiene guidance; formatting changes
  • 3 March: examinations impact added
  • 28 February: removed number of cases; formatting changes
  • 27 February: updated number of cases
  • 25 February: updated travel advice and areas affected
  • 11 February: updated name of the virus
  • 10 February: updated number of cases
  • 7 February: updated travel guidance for additional countries
  • 6 February: updated guidance for staff/students on self-isolation
  • 6 February: updated guidance on hosting visitors from China
  • 5 February: updated message on welfare
  • 3 February: updated travel guidance to/from China
  • 31 January: page published

The health, welfare and safety of students and staff is the number one priority for the University. As the UK Government has increased measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, the University is taking further steps to safeguard our community.

Oxford has a strong history of welcoming students and staff from around the world to the UK, and they are an integral part of our international community.

We understand that students and staff may be worried about friends and family members in affected areas around the world, and our thoughts go to all those affected by this outbreak.

The University's latest position will be published on this webpage in the first instance. We advise you to check here first if you are unsure about the latest situation. Current Oxford students should also refer to the dedicated student advice page.

This situation is placing extraordinary demands on many staff across the University. We would ask you to be supportive of each other and to look out for one another's welfare.

Staff and student communications

1 April from Martin Williams to all students

27 March from the Vice-Chancellor to all staff and students

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Each passing week seems to last a month so much has been happening lately. On Monday last, the Prime Minister imposed severe restrictions on our movements in an effort to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus. In response, the University moved to Stage 4 of our Emergency Response Plan, defined as Working from Home and Buildings Closure. Those of us who had been going to the office moved home and many of our buildings, including our beloved libraries, closed. (The sight of the empty Bodleian quad - beautiful and bare, with gates bolted and barred - seems so unnatural.)

Essential work, particularly research relating to Covid-19, is continuing in some buildings. Other core functions such as animal welfare, security and building maintenance are continuing too. For the time being, all other research is to be conducted at home, as far as possible. We fully appreciate just how difficult this is for so many of our academics, researchers and graduate students. Recent government guidance suggests that non-Covid related work that is considered essential may be permissible, provided it is carried out in keeping with social distancing guidelines. We are working with departments to clarify this point.

The University Parks will remain open until the Government instructs otherwise, so long as those who use them respect the national guidelines on social distancing.

I know that students are very concerned about the impact of the virus on Trinity term and in particular on examinations and assessment. The education teams have been consulting with departments and students and have agreed a set of principles on which the design of assessments will be based. These will be made available at the beginning of next week and will be followed by subject-specific guidance as soon as possible thereafter. FAQs will be updated on the Oxford Students website, and the Academic Support site; please consult them. In an institution as devolved as ours, which has long prided itself on personalised education and instruction tailored to the subject, solutions are not uniform and take longer to agree, but we believe are best suited to each course of study.

I would again like to express my deep appreciation to those colleagues who are working from home while caring for children and concerned for elderly relatives. Others are separated from family and friends and feeling their loss. We are fortunate to have access to video so that, unlike earlier generations, we are not reliant on telephones or waiting for the post to receive news from those we miss.

For those of you who do have time at home please consult our new staff health and wellness webpages. You will find information on working remotely, personal development, useful online resources and stories from your colleagues. There is also guidance on looking after your health, both mental and physical, as well as looking after your family and community. The Department of Continuing Education has also launched a programme of free online learning resources 'Curious minds'.

This University has thrived for as long as it has because of the enduring value of what we do, push at the frontiers of knowledge, educate the next generation, and contribute to the society around us. The third of these has never been more important. Over 500 of our colleagues are working on finding a solution to the problems posed by this pandemic. Please continue to consult our reasearch microsite to learn about their work, work that would not be possible without the talent and commitment of their support staff.

At a community level, some of our Colleges are offering key worker accommodation to the NHS, others are in discussion with Aspire, the homelessness charity about providing short term accommodation to rough sleepers. The Oxford Hub has launched a campaign, 'Oxford Together', to coordinate volunteers across the city, and over 4,000 signed up in one week. Our young final year medical students are graduating early so that they can join the front ranks in the fight against Covid-19. Please join me in wishing them godspeed.

There is an old Irish saying Níl tuile dá mhead nach dtránn - there is no flood that doesn’t recede. Difficult as this time is, it will pass, and when it does I hope we can all look back and take pride in how we came together as a community and how well we fulfilled our mission of research, teaching and contributing to the world around us.

With best wishes to you and your families,
Louise Richardson
Vice-Chancellor

20 March from the Vice-Chancellor to all staff

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to you at the end of another long week. It is a week that we will all remember as the gravity of the situation we face sinks in and we adapt our personal and professional lives to the new reality.

I would just like to say a heartfelt thank you to the many colleagues across the collegiate University who have been working flat out to take care of our students, to protect our research, to adapt our teaching, our examinations, our admissions, and so much more, to the new environment. You have done this while balancing concerns for children’s education, the health and well-being of elderly and vulnerable family members, and uncertainty about the financial implications of it all. In doing so you are demonstrating deep commitment to this community and this institution.

Every day I set out in search of silver linings. It makes the day a little easier. I am confident that a year from now, when we all look back on this time, we will be able to take pride in how we looked out for one another and came through it together, and how we as a University contributed to the national effort against Covid-19.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Richardson

Vice-Chancellor

20 March from Martin Williams to all students

17 March from Martin Williams to all students

Email to all students

17 March from Anne Trefethen to staff

Dear Colleagues,

After hearing the government advice yesterday you are undoubtedly wondering how this impacts the University and what it means to you. I hope that this message offers some clarification.

The University’s mode of operation is about to change but the priority should always be your health and wellbeing. The main thing I would ask you to do is to look after yourself, your family, and colleagues. Vulnerable staff should work from home. If you are not able to carry out your role remotely, you will be granted special paid leave. This guidance also applies to people who live with and / or care for elderly people and people with vulnerable health conditions.

The University has closed its public areas including its museums and is asking departments and units to implement local contingency plans. Planning includes working remotely wherever possible. If the nature of your role means you cannot work from home, you should discuss options with your line manager or supervisor. Please rest assured staff will continue to be paid as usual.

While we will seek to maintain as much operational continuity as possible in this difficult period Divisions and Departments will carefully consider their operational requirements before asking staff to work on site. The University has published a guide 'Coronavirus: working from home guide for University staff' in which we have tried to answer the immediate HR questions that you will have including pay, sick leave, holidays and the like.

The government is advising against all non-essential travel, within the UK or abroad. It is unlikely that research, teaching and other University business will be considered essential – although there may be exceptions, such as travel connected with tackling the coronavirus outbreak. Please consider that the global situation is changing rapidly, and if you are overseas then you risk difficulties with local quarantine, flight cancellations and border restrictions.

The change of operations is intended to have effect from today, 17 March 2020, you will hear details from your departments and you will be kept informed by email and via the University’s coronavirus website.

It is a difficult time for us all and we must support each other through it. If you have questions that are not answered on the webpage or the guide please send them to hr-support@admin.ox.ac.uk and we will try to update the site to reflect them.

Look after yourselves,

Anne

Anne Trefethen
Pro Vice-Chancellor of People, Gardens, Libraries and Museums

16 March from Martin Williams to all students

Email to all students

13 March from the Vice-Chancellor to staff and students

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am writing to you as Hilary term draws to a close to update you on the situation with the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

To date we have six confirmed cases in the student body. We are in regular contact with these students and I am very happy to report that they are recovering well. I would like to thank the college and University teams and Oxford University Hospitals for the support they are providing. Out of respect for their privacy and following advice from Public Health England we have not revealed detailed information about these students.

You will have heard that the Government has now moved from the containment phase to one of delay in its response to the virus. This is an acknowledgement that we anticipate the number of cases to escalate significantly and that we expect this virus to be with us for many months.

You will know that the vast majority of people who are infected with the virus will experience only mild symptoms, and that those who are most at risk are the elderly and those with serious chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes.

In light of the projected length of the pandemic the Government has decided not to invoke at this time the more radical response adopted by some other countries. We are following Government advice. It is nevertheless the case that the operation of the University will inevitably be severely disrupted, starting with the measures outlined below.

I fully appreciate that the disruptions caused will have serious personal and professional consequences for many members of our community and will be deeply disquieting to all of us. I wish I could prevent that. What I can do is promise to communicate with you throughout the course of this crisis and to provide as much information as I can so that you can make decisions in the best interest of yourself, your family and your colleagues. I would also like to reassure you that we are very mindful that some staff and students have particular concerns about their own vulnerability or that of a close family member.  We encourage you to speak in confidence to your college or department about your personal circumstances.

The University intends to remain open until instructed to do otherwise but we will have to develop new ways of working together. In particular, we will have to adapt to using technology for meetings, teaching and assessment in ways we have not done before. This will not be a smooth transition but a great many committed colleagues are working tirelessly to make it as effective as we can. We will use the Easter break to prepare for the transition to online teaching and assessment.

While the Government has not yet instructed us to cancel large gatherings many departments and colleges will make their own decisions about meetings and events.  We encourage the use of technology wherever possible. We have cancelled a number of University access events over the break including Easter UNIQ and the Oxford Cambridge conferences, as well as the Alumni Reunion in Berlin. We have also decided that the May graduations ceremonies will be in absentia only.

All exams scheduled for the Easter break (March 16-April 2) have either been cancelled or rearranged. All students concerned have been notified directly. We are advising all domestic undergraduates to return home for the break unless they have a compelling reason to stay. This is to reduce the density of the population and the strain on college staff and support services.

International students who cannot travel home are welcome to remain.

For now, PGT students are encouraged to stay and study in Oxford.

The University will waive the residency requirements for Trinity term for those PGR students who choose to go home to work on their research.

The University and colleges will do everything possible to support those of you who have to go into self-isolation.

The Medical Science Division is cancelling all clinical teaching until further notice in order to release clinical teachers to the wards.

University museums and gardens will remain open for now. Libraries, like other University services, are putting in place contingency plans to allow services to continue digitally should they be required to close.

At this point, we intend to resume teaching in Trinity term but we will keep you informed as the situation develops nationally.

We are providing extensive information online. Please continue to consult the University website and FAQs which are updated regularly with the latest Government and PHE guidance, including the latest self-isolation guidance. Alongside the main website there is also online support and information for people who are in more medically vulnerable categories, as well as guidance documents on HR issues, events, and remote working.

I fully acknowledge that some of you will have specific questions which will not be covered in the guidance. I would ask for your patience as you contact your college or department for advice. This situation is placing extraordinary demands on many staff across the University. I would ask you to be supportive of each other, to look out for one another’s welfare and to be patient when things go wrong, as inevitably they will.

This is an extraordinary time which is posing a serious challenge to our University community. Personally, I feel great pride in addressing these challenges with a remarkable group of smart and committed colleagues across the University. We will learn a great deal from this experience and I am confident will be a stronger institution when it is all over.

Yours sincerely,
Louise Richardson
Vice-Chancellor

13 March from Martin Williams to all students

7 March from the Vice-Chancellor to staff and students

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am writing to let you know that Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that one of our students has tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) after returning from travel overseas.

I am constrained in what I can say at the moment, but I am glad to report that the student self-isolated as soon as they developed symptoms and did not attend any university or college events after they fell ill. As a result, PHE has advised that the risk to other students and to staff is very low and that university and college activities can continue. They have also advised that we do not need to take any additional public health actions in light of this case.

It is important to bear in mind that PHE does not consider individuals infectious until they develop symptoms. Colleagues have been working with PHE to ensure that anyone who was in contact with the student after they fell ill has been notified and is able to gain access to both information and support.

We have anticipated this eventuality and have been preparing for it for some weeks now. Moreover, given the rate of infection across the country, there will in all likelihood be other cases. I know this news will be upsetting to some of you. Support will be available through Student Welfare and through Colleges and Departments.

We will continue to share further information as it becomes available here: www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus-advice.

Yours sincerely,
Louise Richardson
Vice-Chancellor

3 March from Vice-Chancellor to staff and students

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am writing to update you on the University’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

We are all aware that this is a highly infectious virus and that the number of cases in the UK, while significantly lower than in many other countries, is growing daily. It seems inevitable that we will have cases here in Oxford before too long.

The critical point to bear in mind is that the overwhelming majority (over 80%) of those who contract this virus experience mild symptoms, much like the flu. The fatality rate is difficult to calculate precisely, given the uncertainty of much of the data available from other countries, but it is in the region of 1% and primarily affects the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

For the past several weeks, we have been preparing for an outbreak in Oxford. I chair a Silver Group of senior colleagues from across the collegiate University who have been meeting on a weekly basis, developing plans and deciding on our response. A Bronze Group, chaired by the Registrar, has been meeting biweekly, communicating with colleges and departments, implementing the contingency plans made by the Silver Group and identifying further issues.

We have decided to follow travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and public health advice from Public Health England (PHE). A University webpage is updated regularly to reflect new information and updated government advice. I commend this website to you to address any Oxford specific questions you may have. This is the single source of current University policy and guidance on all matters related to coronavirus.

The University and the Conference of Colleges have been working closely together and co-ordinating all our activity. We have identified facilities that we will be able to use should we need to provide central testing or isolation facilities, and Colleges have been working with their students to make arrangements for those who are unable to travel home for the holidays.

As we know, the outbreak of the virus initiated in China. Many of our Chinese and other Asian students and staff have felt isolated or even suspect, especially when wearing face masks. This is a time for us to come together as a community and to support not shun one another. We are a truly global institution and delight in bringing together diverse cultural norms, and we are, above all, a community of scholars and students coming together to learn, to research and to improve the world around us.

Our stellar academics, meanwhile, are doing what they do best, pushing at the frontiers of knowledge. They are attempting to create a vaccine, they are investigating therapeutic responses, and they are modelling the spread of the disease. To learn more about this work, please consult the coronavirus research microsite.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to all those colleagues across the collegiate University who have been working tirelessly to ensure that we are as prepared as we can be for the consequences of an outbreak here in Oxford.

This virus will pass, and when it does, I hope that we will be able to look back with pride on both the humanity and the efficacy of our response.

Yours sincerely
Louise Richardson
Vice-Chancellor

Keeping our staff and students safe and well

Please visit the NHS website for full information about coronavirus, including answers to common questions.

What is the current risk to the UK from coronavirus?

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic, and the risk to the UK public has risen to 'high'. The Government has put strict health protection regulations in place.

What is the University doing about coronavirus?

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. We have taken proactive steps to contact our students and staff to ensure that everyone has access to the latest advice. We have been in contact with students and staff who are in affected areas around the world.

As of 14 March, Public Health England confirmed that a total of seven University students have tested positive for coronavirus. All students are being offered all the necessary support.

We are monitoring the situation closely, have made plans to act quickly as the situation changes and will provide further updates as necessary.

*UPDATED* Is the University open and operating as normal?

We understand that staff, students and their families are justifiably concerned about coronavirus. We want to reassure you again that we are following all government guidance. Although the University’s business has largely moved online, education, research and other activities continue as best as they can.

The University has put a number of key measures in place to follow government guidance and keep our community safe:

  • All non-essential staff members must work from home.
  • Students have been asked to leave the University unless they have a compelling reason to stay.
  • All libraries and museums are closed, and there will be no physical access to the collections for researchers or students. However, a wide range of resources are being made available online.
  • We are encouraging the use of technology for meetings, teaching and learning. Examinations in Trinity term will either be cancelled, rearranged, or will be conducted remotely.

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

Are University premises (such as libraries and museums) still open to the public?

In line with government advice on large crowds, the University's libraries and museums are now closed. There will be no physical access to the collections. However, a wide range of resources are available online. Please contact the relevant library for further details, or visit https://bit.ly/BodleianOnline for more information.

The Botanic Garden, Harcourt Arboretum and Wytham Woods are currently closed. The University Parks remain open; please practise social distancing while using the space.

The Iffley Road Sports Centre is currently closed.

Information and guidance about coronavirus

Where can I find the latest guidance about coronavirus?

The situation is evolving rapidly. Staff and students are asked to visit and regularly check the following websites for the latest updates and guidance:

Visiting staff

If you have staff visitors working in your department please ensure that they are kept updated with all of the University's coronavirus guidance.

I think I might have coronavirus. How do I get a test?

The UK is no longer performing tests for coronavirus in the community. This is because the UK recognises that the virus is now in the community and focus has shifted to delaying transmission in the community, and testing people in hospital. If you have developed a new continuous cough or a high temperature, you should self-isolate at home. (See 'What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?')

I think I might have coronavirus. Should I call 111?

You do not need to call 111 to report this. If you have developed coronavirus symptoms you should self-isolate at home. (See 'What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?')

You should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home;
  • your condition gets worse; or
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

I think I have been in contact with someone with coronavirus. What should I do?

If you or a family member has coronavirus symptoms, please follow the UK Government's guidance on staying at home.

Everyone should continue to follow guidance on staying at home and precautionary measures (see 'What is the UK Government's guidance on staying at home?' and 'What precautionary measures should I take?').

How would I know if I have coronavirus?

The following symptoms may develop after exposure to someone who has coronavirus (Covid-19):

  • A cough
  • Difficulty in breathing; and/or
  • High temperature.

Although these symptoms do not necessarily mean someone has the virus, current NHS advice recommends self-isolation for those with a high temperature and a new continuous cough. See the latest advice on the PHE website.

What is the UK Government's guidance on staying at home?

The UK Government is now advising everyone to stay at home, and:

  • Only go outside for basic necessities, exercise once a day, to meet medical needs or to do essential work;
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people; and
  • Wash their hands as soon as they get home.

More details on what this entails can be found in the government's guidance on staying at home.

What other precautionary measures should I take?

Everyday measures everyone can take:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

The NHS has a video explaining the best way to wash your hands.

How do you catch coronavirus?

Covid-19 is a new virus and, according to the NHS, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person. The most likely means of transmission are droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Infections are generally be spread by:

  • Secretions from the mouth or nose of people who are nearby (within two metres) or could be inhaled into the lungs
  • Touching a surface that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes (such as a door knob or shaking hands then touching own face)

See above for precautionary measures you can take to help stop the virus from spreading.

What should I do if I believe I am particularly vulnerable?

Public Health England has advised that those particularly vulnerable include:

  • Those aged 70 and over;
  • Those under 70 with an underlying medical condition (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds); and
  • Those who are pregnant.

Public Health England advise those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

We understand you may be concerned if you feel you are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others (for example if you are in the categories listed above, or have vulnerable family members). If you are uncertain, members of staff should speak to their medical provider in the first instance, and students should speak to their college welfare lead.

The University will support you as much as possible. If you are not able to carry out your role remotely, you will be granted special paid leave. This guidance also applies to people who live with and/or care for elderly people and people with vulnerable health conditions.

What can I do to help those who are vulnerable in Oxford?

We encourage those who are healthy and low-risk to join Oxford Together. Part of the Oxford Hub – a volunteering community created by Oxford University students – you'll find details of the support needed by those who are most vulnerable at this time; including practical activities such as taking out rubbish.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the virus, particularly those experiencing difficulty with small day-to-day tasks, now is the time for us to support and encourage one another.

Advice for current Oxford students

A dedicated page has now been set up on the Oxford Students website providing a wide range of advice on teaching and learning, examinations and assessment and student life. Please refer to this page for further information about the impact of coronavirus.

Advice for staff

Detailed operational information is available for staff through the University’s professional services’ websites. This includes:

Managers overseeing business continuity plans can also access detailed planning information through the Coronavirus Continuity Planning SharePoint site.

Do I need to work from home?

Given government advice, all but essential staff must work from home. Please speak to your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) to facilitate this wherever possible.

If the nature of your role is means you cannot or should not work from home, you should discuss options with your line manager or supervisor (if you have one).

Vulnerable staff (those aged over 70, pregnant women, or those with pre-existing health conditions) should work from home. If you are not able to carry out your role remotely, you will be granted special paid leave. This guidance also applies to people who live with and/or care for older people and people with health conditions.

For more information about working from home, please see ‘I need to work remotely due to coronavirus. Is there technology available to support me?’ below and our Working From Home guide (single sign-on required).

*UPDATED* What support is available to help staff look after their wellbeing during this time?

Our new, dedicated HR wellbeing page offers extensive resources to support home working and wellbeing. The pages pull together information regarding ways of working, staying connected with colleagues and looking after your own health. We hope staff will consult it as much as possible.

What do I do if I have to undertake caring responsibilities now that schools and nurseries are closed?

You should continue working from home if possible, but it is accepted that you may need to be flexible and may not be able to do so if, for example, you are not able to make alternative care arrangements. If working at home or making alternative care arrangements is not possible, you will continue to be paid as normal. You should keep in regular touch with your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) so that they know when you are working.

I need to self-isolate because I have coronavirus symptoms. What do I do now?

If you have coronavirus symptoms, or live with someone who does (see ‘What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?’), you should discuss options with your line manager, including if and how you can work from home.

If you have to self-isolate, you would be expected to carry on working from home if possible, so long as your symptoms are mild enough that you would ordinarily continue to go to work.

If you have to self-isolate but are unable to work from home for operational reasons, you will be granted special paid leave at the normal rate of pay for that period.

If you are too unwell to work during the period of self-isolation, you should contact your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) from home to let them know.

You will not be required to use annual leave to cover a period of self-isolation, and this will not be included in your sickness record. If you are unwell beyond the self-isolation period required by PHE advice, then the resulting absence should be treated as sickness absence, and the University’s sick leave policy will apply.

Further information advice about remote work can be found in a new Working From Home guide, which has now been published (single sign-on required).

I have a suspected case in my part of the University. What should I do?

If an individual develops symptoms (see 'What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?') they should go home and self-isolate according to PHE guidance. No further action is required.

*UPDATED* How will teaching, examinations and assessments be managed in Trinity term?

Teaching and learning will be moved to an online format. The Centre for Teaching and Learning has published Guidance on Teaching Remotely for those looking to find out more about alternative teaching methods.

There will be no conventional exams in Trinity Term. The high-level arrangements will be as follows: 

  • The majority of examinations for first year undergraduates will be cancelled, and students will be deemed to have passed. The only exceptions are Law and Medicine, where assessments will be rearranged for professional qualification reasons.
  • For all second and third year (non-finalist) undergraduates, and first year MPhils, exam papers will be deferred into the next academic year. The only exceptions are those exams which need to go ahead because they are taken by a mix of continuing and leaving students.
  • For final-year undergraduates and taught postgraduates exams will be replaced with alternative forms of assessment in Trinity term 2020. These will take the form of either open-book versions of papers, longer pieces of work completed over several days, or a mix of the two.

Further details about the arrangements have now been published on the student coronavirus advice page on the Oxford Students website

Colleagues in departments and colleges looking for detailed guidance about managing teaching, exams and assessment, and wider student support, should refer to the coronavirus advice page for student-facing staff on the Academic Support website (staff single sign-on required).

I have visitors (including part-time students) arriving in the UK from areas affected by coronavirus in the near future. Do I need to do anything?

The UK Government is now advising against all non-essential travel, and it is likely that visitors will be affected by travel restrictions in their own country. Travellers should follow the government's stay-at-home guidance if they develop symptoms.

Please consider that the global situation is changing rapidly, and visitors should monitor travel guidance from the FCO and their home country.

What if I cannot work because I am unwell?

You will be paid sick pay at the rate specified in your employment contract or contract for services. You should inform your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) that you are unwell as soon as possible. If you are unwell with coronavirus, this will not be counted towards your sickness absence record.

I am a casual or temporary worker. Will I still be paid?

The University will pay you for any work that you have been contracted to do, if you are well enough to do it. If you have been offered an assignment and accepted it, you will be paid for it, even if you carry out your duties from home or are unable to do so because of the nature of the work or your caring responsibilities. The work assignment will conclude on its current expected end date. The University has no obligation to extend assignments or to offer additional work.

I am a variable hours employee. What will I be paid?

If you have a reasonably regular or predictable pattern of work, you will be paid in accordance with that. If you do not, an average will be taken of your last three months’ pay and you will be paid that.

These arrangements may be reviewed in due course.

I am a consultant. Will I be paid?

You will be paid for any particular hours or days of work that we have committed to, provided that you are in a position to deliver the work or outcomes that you have agreed to.

I have an HR-related question that’s arisen as a result of coronavirus. What should I do?

The Working From Home guide provides answers to questions that you may have in relation to the impact of coronavirus on your working life (including both HR and IT information). If you have a question that is not covered by this document, you should speak to your line manager or supervisor in the first instance (if you have one).

Managers will need to make decisions relating to their teams and their work by applying their own judgment to the advice and FAQs that have been provided. They can also contact Heads of Administration and Finance and HR staff in their departments in accordance with normal practice. The HR Business Partner teams in University HR, who can be contacted by HAFs and departmental HR staff, will be continuing to provide an advisory service by email and phone.

I need to work remotely due to coronavirus. Is there technology available to support me?

Many University IT services are accessible away from University buildings. Detailed information about these services, including 'how to' guidance, is available on the IT Services Work remotely page. More detailed IT advice is also available in a new Working From Home Guide (single sign-on required). This also contains HR advice about working from home.

Areas of my work in my department depend on key suppliers. Will these suppliers still be available?

The Purchasing Department continues to be in regular contact with preferred suppliers regarding their plans. Specific updates will be provided via the Purchasing news page.

Departments should continue to in the first instance engage with the Purchasing Department in respect of purchases exceeding £100k (ex. VAT), and you should continue to order important supplies via a purchase order in the usual way.

Departments should also make contact with key suppliers as part of their contingency planning to understand their emergency arrangements.

How will finance functions such as payroll, payments or research accounts be affected?

Services are continuing as usual – however they have been adapted to support remote working where possible. Colleagues in departments looking for detailed advice about finance services should contact their local finance manager. Guidance on the new 'remote working' process has been issued to local finance managers in departments and can also be found at the Finance Division's dedicated coronavirus update page.

What do I do if I need to purchase some equipment for work?

It is expected that departments will follow normal purchasing processes as far as possible, including obtaining relevant quotes and raising a purchase order (PO) in advance. However, we recognise situations may arise where it is not possible or practical to raise a PO, and in these cases use of the Barclaycard is encouraged (please note that quotations should be obtained).

If delivery is needed to home addresses, the Barclaycard should be used where possible. It is generally not expected that individuals will make purchases directly and reclaim via expenses. The University’s Payments team is currently processing documents in a priority order (determined by departments). It is likely that payment of low-value expense claims will be delayed.

Please note that any equipment purchased by the University (including through research funding) remains the property of the University.

I am running an event or conference. What should I do?

The UK has now restricted all public gatherings of more than two people. If your event is due to take place within the next three weeks it cannot go ahead. The lockdown may be extended, or we may return to social distancing phase for some time; therefore if your event is imminent, you should take steps to postpone or cancel, or find a way of running it virtually. Work is ongoing to see how our events and initiatives can be delivered differently and innovatively.

For events scheduled for the summer or beyond, you should be contingency planning, as it is currently unclear how long these measures will be in place. Decisions about whether to proceed with events outside the UK should be based on local health advice. Further guidance for event managers is now available (single sign-on required).

I have a question that has not been answered above. What should I do?

If you are a member of staff, please contact your line manager or supervisor in the first instance (if you have one). If you are a student please contact your welfare lead or academic office. If they are unable to answer your query (after consulting professional services such as HR business partners or IT support), your question will be escalated either to your lead administrator or designated coronavirus lead (in the case of a department) or the College Bronze Group lead (in the case of a college). If you are a lead administrator or a College Bronze Group lead and have a question you cannot answer, you should contact the relevant divisional, UAS or Conference of Colleges coronavirus lead (staff single sign-on required).

What should I do if I have travelled from the affected areas, including areas with a high level of coronavirus?

Everyone in the UK must stay now at home. Upon returning, you should return to your home and follow government advice.

I am currently outside the UK. What should I do?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised that all British citizens who are travelling should return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving. You should follow the advice on the FCO website.

If you are outside the UK, and are not a UK citizen, you should follow the advice of the governments of your home nation and the country you are currently in.

If you are a member of staff, you should keep in touch with your department, and review your risk assessment and plans in light of the FCO’s advice. You should also contact your insurer.

If you are a student, you should contact your college (or department if you don’t have a college) to make them aware that you are in an affected area, and seek further advice.

I have plans to travel – what should I do?

The government is advising against all non-essential travel, within the UK and abroad. The FCO is currently issuing travel advisories for a number of countries affected by coronavirus, and governments in the affected areas continue to impose further restrictions in response to the coronavirus outbreak. You should visit the FCO's coronavirus webpages for further details. Please consider that the global situation is changing rapidly, and if you are overseas then you risk difficulties with local quarantine, flight cancellations and border restrictions.

If you are a member of staff planning to travel domestically or abroad, please give careful consideration as to whether is it still advisable to travel. You should revisit your risk assessment with your manager. It is unlikely that research, teaching and other University business will be considered essential – although there may be exceptions, such as travel connected with tackling the coronavirus pandemic. If the FCO does not advise against travel, risk assessments should still be completed. These should focus on limiting risks of individuals (and subsequently the wider University community) being exposed to the virus. All travel on behalf of the University must go through the University’s risk assessment process outlined on the Safety Office website and apply for insurance in advance of booking. Insurers may not cover travel to these areas.

Please continue to monitor the FCO’s website, as advice may change.

I am from one of the areas affected by coronavirus, and have concerns about my visa. What should I do?

The UK Home Office has published immigration guidance for individuals affected by coronavirus travel restrictions. If you are a visa holder, you may be uncertain whether you will be able to leave the UK before your visa expires, or may not be able to return to the UK as soon as planned due to travel restrictions. The Home Office realises that in many cases this will be outside of your control, and should not negatively affect your visa. If you have any queries, members of staff should contact the Staff Immigration Team, and students should get in touch with the Student Immigration Team. The Home Office has also set up a telephone helpline and dedicated email address, details of which can be found on the UK Government website.

*UPDATED* I am a visa holder and my visa has, or is about to expire and I am unable to leave the UK

The Home Office have updated their immigration guidance relating to coronavirus for those whose visas are due to expire, or have already expired, but who cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or they are self-isolating.

Those with a visa which expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 can contact the Home Office's 'Coronavirus Immigration Team' to request an extension of their visa until 31 May 2020 explaining why they are unable to return to their home country. The contact details for the 'Coronavirus Immigration Team' are provided in the updated Home Office guidance.

*UPDATED* I am a visa holder and my visa is about to expire and I need to switch to a new visa to stay in the UK

The Home Office have relaxed the rules on switching from one visa route into another from within the UK. Instead of requesting an extension of their visa until 31 May 2020, those who will be taking up other activities in the UK, and meet the relevant requirements, may be able to apply for a new visa under a different route without having to leave and apply from outside the UK.

Any queries about switching into a different visa route for activities within the collegiate University should be discussed with the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) who can advise on the best way to proceed.

*UPDATED* I am a Tier 2 or Tier 5 (or other) visa holder whose visa is about to expire and I need to extend my visa to stay in the UK?

Those whose visas are coming close to expiry but are applying for extensions should follow the normal processes to apply to extend their visa before their current visa expires. The Staff Immigration Team is continuing to receive and process Tier 2 and Tier 5 CoS extension applications and to advise and assist applicants through the visa extension process.

I have to cancel my travel due to coronavirus. Will I be able to claim my money back?

Travel and accommodation cancellation policies vary, so you will need to check your specific terms of booking, and refer to the travel/accommodation provider in case they are applying exceptional policies. Where travel has been booked through Key Travel (the University’s preferred supplier), additional flexibility is obtained by booking specialist academic fares. Key Travel is also in contact with larger hotel chains and airlines to try and influence cancellation terms on our (and the wider sector’s) behalf.

Insurance

It is likely that you will be able to make a claim on your insurance if you have already applied for travel insurance, and either:

  • You booked your trip before the FCO advised against travelling to the area, and it has since changed its advice
  • You need to cancel your trip for a valid reason (for example because a conference is cancelled)

You are unlikely to be able to make a claim if:

  • The FCO advises that you can still travel to your planned destination, but you unilaterally decide not to travel
  • You did not already have insurance in place when the FCO advised against travelling (you cannot now apply for insurance, and will not be able to make a claim).

Note: Some staff and students may have travelled to an area to which the FCO has subsequently advised against travelling, and may wish to leave. If you are in this situation, you should consult the Travel Insurance website before booking replacement travel. Please note that even where the insurance policy does not cover flights not taken you can reclaim the Air Passenger Duty from the airline.

I believe my duties are critical and need to come to work. Do I need a special parking and/or travel permit?

While not formally required by law, the University created a personal travel permit which can be shown to the authorities to show that your work is both urgent and essential to the University and requires you to travel to work or travel between University sites. Car parking permits allow key workers to park for free on University premises. Both permits can be issued by relevant colleges, departments or divisions. Please contact your line manager or supervisor if you need a permit.

Advice for applicants and offer-holders

Those applying for an undergraduate course from an area affected by coronavirus:

I am concerned about the impact of coronavirus on my education or exams. What can you tell me?

Following the announcement that UK schools will be closing and exams will not be taking place this May and June, our thoughts are with you and your schools. We will be closely monitoring the situation and awaiting further information from the government on how qualifications will be awarded. We also understand the impact that coronavirus may have had on offer holders outside the UK. We are committed to supporting our offer-holders as best as we can at this difficult time and wish you the very best. More information will be available here as soon as possible and as the situation becomes clearer. If you are an offer-holder and believe that other extenuating circumstances (not relating to the coronavirus) apply to you then, as normal, please get in touch with the college offering you your place.

Those applying for a postgraduate course from an area affected by coronavirus:

All graduate applications are currently being processed, and decisions from academic departments are expected within eight to ten weeks after the deadline. As the central Graduate Admissions team are unable to answer queries by telephone, please use this online form to submit any queries.

I cannot complete my undergraduate course and/or provide my final transcript because my education has been disrupted by coronavirus, or my university has closed. What do I do?

If you are successful with your application and offered a place on a course by the academic department, you will normally be set a condition of achieving your qualification with a minimum score and providing a final transcript by a specified date (if you have not already completed your current degree). The deadline may vary by department, but, for entry in October 2020, will normally be in the UK summer period. If you will be unable to get your final transcript by the date the academic department specifies, or the completion of your current course will be delayed, please contact the academic department via the contact details on the course page, and the University will provide further guidance on how to proceed.

I cannot book an English language test because test centres are currently closed. What do I do?

If you are successful with your application and offered a place on a course by the academic department, you will be set a condition of achieving the required English language score by a specified date (if you have not already met this requirement). The deadline may vary by department, but, for entry in October 2020, it will normally be in the UK summer period, so there is still time. The situation will be monitored and, if it becomes likely that language test centres will not be re-opened in time, the University will provide further guidance on how to proceed.

Confirmed cases

Please note: all information in these statements was correct at the time of publication. The University will not be publishing further details of confirmed cases. Please refer to our FAQ above for the most up-to-date health, study and travel advice.

Update on confirmed coronavirus cases - 14 March 2020

The University can confirm that a seventh confirmed case has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

The University continues to work alongside Public Health England, and to follow the government guidance issued.

Update on confirmed coronavirus cases - 13 March 2020

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed an additional student at University of Oxford has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). This brings the total number of confirmed cases at the University to six students.

Since Public Health England (PHE) has now moved from ‘Containment’ to ‘Delay’, testing protocol is changing. We’ll continue to update this section where possible.

Update on confirmed coronavirus cases - 12 March 2020

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that three additional students at the University of Oxford have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). All three are in self-isolation and are being provided with all necessary support and medical advice. This brings the total number of confirmed cases at the University to five students.

Our priority is providing support for affected students and their families, as well as offering support and information to other university staff, students, visitors and the local community.

PHE is currently assessing the most-recently diagnosed individuals and contacting those who had close contact with them. All close contacts will be issued with health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed cases. PHE will also be advising the University on any necessary next steps.

The University continues to monitor the coronavirus situation and will adjust its response as necessary. Contingency planning is under way and as a result some upcoming events are being cancelled for a range of reasons. All significant changes will be updated on this website.

We ask all University members to refer only to official sources of information. Information for staff and students will be updated on this webpage, and further online advice can be found on the NHS 111 online service.

Second Oxford case confirmed - update 11 March 2020

Public Health England (PHE) has now completed its assessment of the second of the two University students to test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Following this assessment, PHE has advised that the University and colleges do not need to take any additional public health actions in the light of these cases. Regular University and college activity can continue as normal.

PHE is tracing all those who had close contact with either student. Everyone traced will be issued with health advice about symptoms and with emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after their contact with the confirmed students. The colleges of the two students are providing them with all necessary support. Other students and staff have been informed at both colleges.

The University will continue to monitor the situation and will adjust its response as necessary. Contingency planning is under way and as a result some upcoming events are being cancelled for a range of reasons. All significant changes will be updated on this website.

We ask all University members to refer only to official sources of information. Information for staff and students will be updated on this webpage, and further online advice can be found on the NHS 111 online service.

Second Oxford case confirmed - 9 March 2020

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that a second student at the University of Oxford has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our priority is providing support for affected students and their families, as well as offering support and information to other university staff, students, visitors and the local community. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to two.

PHE is currently assessing the individual and contacting those who had close contact with the students and will issue them with health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. PHE will also be advising the University on any necessary next steps.

Once we have additional advice from PHE on whether we need to take further precautions we will make an announcement on the website, social media and through staff and student communications.

Information for staff and students continued to be updated here, and further online advice can be found on the NHS 111 online service.

First Oxford case confirmed - 7 March 2020

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that a student at the University of Oxford has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) after returning home from a specified country.

Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and their family, along with the health and wellbeing of our university staff, students and visitors. The student is being offered all necessary support.

It has been established that the affected student did not attend any university or college events after they felt ill, when they subsequently self-isolated. 

As a result, PHE has advised that the risk to other students and staff is very low and that university and college activities can continue as normal. They have also advised that the university and colleges do not need to take any additional public health actions in the light of this specific case.

We have worked with PHE to make sure that anyone who was in contact with the student after they fell ill have been notified and that they are able to access support and information as needed. PHE do not consider individuals infectious until they develop symptoms.

The University is taking this situation very seriously and understand this development will cause concern among our students, staff, and the wider community. Support is available through Student Welfare, Colleges and Departments for University members with any concerns.

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