Coronavirus: Support Staff FAQs
More than ever, our hard-working support staff will be the college’s foundation during the pandemic. On this page, you can find guidance and information about things will be affected this term and how we can stay safe at work.
All University staff are able to book a coronavirus test using their Single Sign On over at https://www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus/health/covid-testing. If you are unsure whether you should be getting a test or self-isolating, have a look at our Staff Testing Guidance for COVID-19 which runs through the different situations.
What precautions will be in place when I return to work in Somerville?
We all want to feel safe while we’re at work so over the summer we’ve been working hard at preparing the College for a safe return to work. The College has developed a comprehensive risk assessment and policy, signage is in place to remind us all of the importance of social distancing and good hygiene, office spaces have been planned to allow for social distancing while we work, and we’ll all be following the University’s policy on face coverings.
Your manager will complete an induction with you when you return, and we also ask that you complete an individual risk assessment if you haven’t already done so. More guidance for employees is available here and, if at any time you have questions or concerns, please speak to your manager or supervisor.
I am worried about coming back into work; what should I do?
In the first instance, please speak to your line manager, who will be able to reassure you about the specific arrangements in place for your place of work. If you still have specific concerns you should raise these with your line manager, who can seek additional guidance and support from your Head of Department or HR as necessary.
Will I have to wear a face covering?
Yes, from the 7 September we will all have to wear face coverings while in University and College buildings, as detailed in the University’s Face Coverings Policy. You are expected to provide your own face covering, and we are also looking to source a starter-pack of two reusable face coverings for everyone.
Are there any exceptions where face coverings are not required?
There are limited specific exceptions laid out in university policy where face coverings can be removed. These include when alone in single occupancy offices, or when seated at a desk in a shared office (provided in all cases 2m social distancing is consistently maintained). This is because where face-to-face interaction, such as speaking with others, and movement around the space are minimised, then the risk of transmission is reduced. In addition, in these settings you are less likely to be in contact with people that you do not normally meet.
My children are not yet back at school full-time or have been required to self-isolate – what are my options?
We recognise that the situation with school openings and attendance may change throughout Michaelmas Term. If your child is not able to attend school because it is closed or because teaching hours are reduced, for example, then you should speak to your line manager in the first instance. Where possible, we will try to allow you to work from home, consider staggered start and finish times, or other reasonable options. If you are unable to work, you may be able to take annual leave or unpaid leave.
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 at home, you must not come into work. Tell your line manager as soon as possible, and arrange for a test, either through the University’s Early Alert Service, or through the NHS website or NHS 111. If you have symptoms at work, tell your line manager and go home immediately. If you normally use public transport, speak to your manager about alternative ways of getting home. You should then arrange a test through the University’s Early Alert Service, through the NHS website or via NHS 111.
While you’re waiting for test results, you must self-isolate at home. If you test positive for Covid-19, you must comply with the current requirements and comply with the NHS Test and Trace programme.
I don’t have my own printer; how can I get documents printed out?
Arrangements for printers are being finalised, and will be available soon.
What happens if there is local lockdown and/or a second wave of the virus?
It is difficult to be specific about these situations, as the responses will depend on the Government guidance in place at the time. 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.
What will the dining arrangements be in Michaelmas Term? (and Hilary Term)
We are still finalising plans for dining this term. The hall this term will seat 54 socially-distanced diners, meaning that there will be several sittings for each meal. You will need to book 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.
How many people can I meet and socialise with once term starts?
Our students are arranged in households, which may vary from 6 to 12 people depending on the particular layout of your accommodation. Under new government regulations, the number of people from separate household who may meet together is limited to 6..
Can I have an Amazon package delivered to me?
We cannot accept Amazon or other deliveries at this time, as we cannot guarantee being able to handle them in a safe manner. You should not, therefore, arrange for deliveries to be made to you at College.
Will committee meetings still happen via Teams in Michaelmas term?
For the time being, yes, they will continue on Teams. If you are working in college and think you can safely share a screen with a team member, you can attend the meeting together.
I am worried about getting public transport to travel to work – what should I do?
The current Government advice is to avoid public transport if at all possible, and you should walk or cycle to work. If you do use public transport, it is mandatory to wear a mask and you should maintain social distancing while on the bus or train. If you do still have concerns, please speak to your line manager to investigate whether your role allows you to work from home, or if your start and finish times can be staggered to avoid the busier periods.
What will happen if there is another mass lockdown situation?
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.
Should I get the flu vaccination?
Yes. This year with both the flu virus and COVID-19 circulating, flu immunisation is more important than ever to reduce infections, protect each other and protect the NHS. Experts regard the flu vaccine as one of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter, and it also helps our front-line staff to protect others.
Can I eat in hall this term?
The dining hall has now re-opened and you will be able book in for meals. You will not be able to dine this term without having booked by 12pm the day before. To see a step by step guide to using the new system, visit meal booking.
Return to the Covid-19 hub