Michaelmas 2020: Student FAQs

Last updated: 17/09/20

What safety measures are in place around the college now?

It’s vitally important this term to follow the latest guidance on preventing the spread of the virus, including social distancing and wearing face coverings as set out in the University policy on face coverings. All students and staff will need to wear a face covering in all communal areas, including when entering and exiting accommodation buildings, entering and exiting the dining hall, and in the hall while not eating. You will not have to wear a mask when you are outside, with your household in your accommodation, or while eating and drinking. We will provide everyone with two reusable masks at the start of term. We have also placed hand sanitiser stations around the college.

What should I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.  If you experience these, arrange for a test, either through the University’s Early Alert Service, or through the NHS website or NHS 111. While you’re waiting for test results, you must self-isolate in your room or, if you are in privately rented accommodation, at home.  If you test positive for Covid-19, you must comply with the current requirements.

What happens if my household has to self-isolate?

When a student living in College books a test with the University’s Early Alert Service (guidance on the EAS website) they should contact both Somerville’s Single Point of Contact (the Treasurer, Andrew Parker) and their Department’s Single Point of Contact to let them know. We will then contact that student’s household and ask them to self-isolate.

If a negative test result is received, we will inform you and your household that you are free to leave self-isolation. If a positive test result is received, the student who has tested positive will need to self isolate for 10 days and the rest of their household will need to self-isolate for 14 days. The local NHS track & trace team will do the full contact tracing.

We will make sure that self-isolating households have access to welfare and any other support that they need. During your self-isolation, you and your household will have to stay in your rooms and corridor. We will have food delivered to your room by an external company (which means it will not be possible to opt out of certain meals). It is perfectly safe to drink or fill your kettle from your bathroom tap, but bottled water will also be provided with meals. We encourage students to think about packing a ‘Covid contingency kit’ with any bottled drinks, snacks, treats, books, etc. they might want during a period of self-isolation to have ready just in case. JCR and MCR volunteers are welcome to drop off food and any other supplies that are necessary, provided they do so in a contactless manner following all safety guidance.

If you are well enough, you will be able to carry on attending lectures and tutorials online, and the library will provide a ‘click and deliver’ service so that you can still access books. Households can continue to speak in corridors and communal areas and use kitchens during self-isolation but will need to follow strict social distancing and have as little contact with each other as possible in order to avoid more cases of Covid-19. The household will be responsible for cleaning their own kitchens and bathrooms at that time, and cleaning materials will be provided. Unfortunately, you will not be able to go outside for exercise as this presents too much of a risk of spreading the virus to other students and staff.

How can I get books from the College library this term via click and collect (or click and deliver if I am in self-isolation)?

If you’d like material from the library this term, please see these instructions: https://somlib.wordpress.com/click-and-collect-borrowing-service/ on how to use our ordering service.

If you are in self-isolation, you won’t be able to collect your item(s) so someone will deliver them to your doorstep. The service operates during weekdays only and it may take 24-48 hours for your book to arrive. Please ensure you wash your hands or sanitise before and after touching the book.

Will we have access to the College nurse this term?

Yes. Our Nurse, Glenys Knighton, will be available as normal. She will be operating a phone triage service in the first instance, so you won’t be able to attend her office in person unless she has invited you to do so. You can contact Glenys by emailing somenurse@nhs.net or calling 01865 270865 during her office hours, 11AM-3PM Mon-Fri.

I left belongings here over the vacation. How can I collect them?

Those students who have to self-isolate upon their return to Somerville are having their belongings delivered to their rooms. Returning students will be able to collect their belongings when they are back in college. If you are living out this year in privately rented accommodation and have belongings to collect, please email the Lodge to make arrangements to come and collect them.

I don’t have my own printer; how can I get documents printed out?

Arrangements for printers are still being finalised and will be available soon.

What happens if there is a local lockdown or a second wave of the virus and another national lockdown?

It is difficult to be specific about these situations, as the responses will depend on the Government guidance in place at the time – but please be assured we will do everything we can to look after you in all eventualities. The collegiate University has been carefully planning how to respond in various situations.  The overall plan, and the University’s current status are updated regularly and are available here.

In the meantime, we can all help to play our part by regularly washing our hands for at least 20 seconds; using hand sanitiser as necessary; maintaining social distancing; wearing a face covering; and following the guidance in place at the time.

How will I collect my post from the Lodge?

The Lodge will be open and operating in a safe, socially-distanced manner. You will be able to collect your post from the hatch on a “one in/one out” basis, queuing in a socially distanced manner if necessary. We are still finalising the times when the post collection service will be available.

Can I get packages delivered to the Lodge? 

Yes, within reason. But please consider the needs of the Lodge team by not ordering too many packages at once or packages that are excessively large or heavy. If the Lodge receives too many deliveries or too many outsize/heavy parcels, we may have to review this policy in order to ensure staff can continue to work safely.

Can I have takeaway food delivered?

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to have takeaway food delivered via the Lodge to Somerville this term. If you are a student quarantining, we will provide meals for you while you are in self-isolation and tell you how these will be delivered to your accommodation.

How do I eat in college this term?

We are still finalising plans for dining this term. The hall this term will seat 63 socially distanced diners, meaning that there will be several sittings for each meal. You will need to book in for a sitting to be able dine-in. In between each sitting, while the surfaces are being cleaned, there will be a take-away sitting where you will be able to pre-book and collect a meal in a takeaway box. We will provide further information in due course.

Can I have takeaway food delivered?

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to have takeaway food delivered to Somerville this term. If you are a student quarantining, we will provide meals for you while you are in self-isolation and tell you how these will be delivered to your accommodation.

How will laundry work?

You will be able to do laundry in college this term according to a weekly rota. The rota will also take into account those who need to do laundry more frequently, such as students who play sports. Face coverings which need to be washed more regularly should be able to be cleaned using hot water and detergent in sinks. The machines will need to be cash operated this term; they will all be changed at Christmas to ensure that cards can be used instead.

How will my room and corridor be cleaned?

Communal bathrooms and kitchens will be cleaned three times a day. Unless you have an en-suite bathroom, housekeeping staff will not be able to enter your rooms this term. Cleaning them will be your responsibility, and we will provide each household bubble with a vacuum cleaner and any necessary cleaning materials. If you have an en-suite bathroom, this will be cleaned once per fortnight, but you will still be responsible for cleaning the bedroom. Bins should be left outside your room when full so that they can be emptied in the morning.

Can I have a guest stay over?

Due to the lack of space in college and current government guidance on social distancing, we sadly cannot allow guests from outside the college to visit during day or night. You will also be unable to host other Somerville students from outside your household in your rooms.

How many people can I meet and socialise with once term starts? 

Following the government’s new ‘rule of six’ guidelines introduced on 14th September, the colleges and university are working to determine the implications for socialising in college and the organisation of student events. We will aim to update this section as soon as possible. For the latest official guidance, visit the Government and University coronavirus pages.

How will teaching take place now?

Lectures will take place online. If relevant to your subject, science departments are planning to run laboratory sessions with social distancing measures in place. Many tutorials will take place face-to-face, also with social distancing measures in place, including the use of face coverings. Some tutorials (for instance, where the tutor or a member of their family is clinically vulnerable or for other reasons) will take place online.

What will happen if travel to my home country is prohibited at the end of term?

You will be able to stay in College over the vacation if you are not permitted to return home.

How will Collections work in Michaelmas term?

Most collections will be taken by individuals in their rooms, with students requested to maintain exam conditions for completing papers. A small number of collections (for instance, where tutors feel that students need the practice for forthcoming exams or for rigorous calibration of academic progress) will be taken in normal conditions with in-person invigilation under full exam conditions. You will be informed about the specific arrangements for you by your tutors.

How can I get documents stamped during Michaelmas term?

If you are able to scan the document requiring a stamp from the Academic Office, please email it as a PDF to academic.office@some.ox.ac.uk. We will add an electronic stamp and email it back to you. The Academic Office will be open and staffed by one member of staff on weekdays between 10am-12pm and 2pm-4:30-pm. If you have paperwork which cannot be scanned you can make an appointment via academic.office@some.ox.ac.uk to bring it to be stamped. The Academic Office will have a safety screen in place and you must wear a face covering when attending. Please be aware that due to Covid-19 paperwork may need to be quarantined for two days before it can be given back to you via your pigeonhole, so please do not expect paperwork brought in person to be returned immediately.