Covid-19: Guidance for Students

Updated 10/02/21 @ 16:53

***Consult the FAQs below for latest updates on travelling home for Christmas and return in Hilary Term.***

On this page, you can find the links and information you need to stay safe and have a successful term in college. The FAQs below contain the latest information and advice from College regarding student life, Covid restrictions and study arrangements.

  1. Book a test from the University.
  2. Latest FAQs from Oxford University
  3. When Should I Test? Check the Oxford University Flowchart.
  4. Self-Isolating in College? Read our Self-Isolation Guide
  5. How to Use the Library This Year
  6. Wellbeing advice
  7. ICT: Help and Advice and Requesting IT equipment for online tutoring form
  8. Download the NHS Covid-19 App: Apple or Android


  • What are the arrangements for Hilary term following the third nationwide lockdown?

    Following Government guidance, the university has decided you should stay at home until at least mid-February. Students on a very few courses will be able to return early, and your department will have informed you if this is the case. Otherwise the default position for the vast majority is that you should stay at home and access learning remotely. You can read the university’s latest guidance on Hilary term here:

    There are a few very limited exemptions enabling students to return to college, each of which will be stringently assessed (see next question).

  • What welfare support is available to me in Hilary 2021?

    Whether you are resident in College or studying at home, the College Welfare Support Services that are usually accessible to you are still available. These include:

    *Welfare Officer*
    I will be working as usual, but from home rather than the office. If you need to contact me please email on and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

    *Junior Deans*
    There will be a Junior Dean on duty from 7pm-7am and at weekends for the duration of Hilary Term. The Junior Deans are here to provide crisis welfare support to students in residence AND those studying at home. You can contact the on duty Junior Dean on 07805 784964 or on the new email address. This email is NOT an urgent response service so if you need urgent help, please call the Lodge on 01865 270600 (if resident in College) or the Junior Deans on 07805 784964. The Junior Deans will be providing support remotely where possible but will attend in person if necessary.

    For urgent medical problems for those of you in residence, please call the Lodge on 01865 270600 or call 999 for an ambulance.

    *The College Nurse*
    The College nurse will be available for online consultations – contact her to arrange a video consultation at

    *Peer Support*
    Peer Supporters are available to provide support to students who are working at home. Please contact them directly or via Learn more about Peer Support here:

  • Which students can return to College before the lockdown is lifted?

    The following very limited exemptions could theoretically permit a return to college. However, like other Colleges, we will apply very strict criteria and follow government guidance when evaluating applications for exemptions. We take the need to comply with the lockdown very seriously, so do not expect to be granting many of these requests. Those of you who have already emailed do not have to have to do so again.

    Possible Exemptions:

    - You are an international student and have remained in the UK or have already arrived back, or have booked travel which cannot be rescheduled.

    - You have stayed in University or College accommodation over the Christmas vacation.

    - You require additional support, including if you are having significant mental health difficulties.

    - Even when viewed pragmatically, you do not have access to appropriate study spaces or facilities at home.

    If you feel that you meet any of these conditions, please email Andrew Parker, cc’ing the Senior Tutor and Principal.

  • I’m staying in College this term. What will it be like?

    Our Treasurer and Head of Housekeeping have moved mountains to ensure that life is as bearable as possible for those students resident in College this term, e.g. ensuring where possible students remain in their own rooms and trying to keep friendship groups together to mitigate the effects of isolation. Alongside this, all students are aware of the critical importance of safety this term, and that being in College is a privilege; any mixing of households or socialising outside will result in students being sent home immediately.

    Students in College will have access to three indoor social spaces available: the JCR in Vaughan, the terrace ante-room and the terrace bar (with no alcohol or any other drinks); and two external spaces, the marquee and the terrace. These will be open from 0900 until 2200 with one household at a time allowed to use them according to a booking system, and cleaning responsibilities on leaving.

    The chapel will also be open from 0900 until 2200 for individual piano or organ practice and for individual quiet contemplation. To reserve access, please email:

    The library is open on a booking only basis and books can be borrowed via the click and collect service.

    The gym will be closed.

  • I stayed in college over the vacation. Do I need to stay in Oxford during the lockdown?

    The Government has advised students against travelling. If you did not go home for the Christmas vacation, you should stay in Oxford this term, and will ​be supported in doing so.

    If you do need to leave, the residency requirement has been suspended this term, which means that you can return home, so long as you can do so in a way that complies with national and international travel guidance. You should bear in mind that, if you do choose to leave, you will not be allowed to return to Oxford again until the current Government restrictions are lifted.

    In line with Government guidance, ​if students stay in Oxford, we are unable to provide in-person teaching, with very few exceptions. However​, you will be able to use University and college facilities where they are available.

  • I’m a postgraduate student. How do the new rules affect me in the third lockdown?

    Postgraduate research students (e.g. non-taught postgrads) are exempt from the guidance, which means that you can continue your research (and return to Oxford if you left during the vacation) as you planned at the end of Michaelmas term. In line with University employees, you may access university facilities if necessary for your research, but should work remotely if you are able to do so.

  • I applied for Vac Res last term – is it still valid?

    Unfortunately, previous Vac Res approvals no longer apply. It is only those to whom we give specific approval post-lockdown who can come back.

  • What will happen with rental charges for Hilary term?

    We have agreed that you will only have to pay rent when you return to College. The recent government and University announcements mean that some students will not be able to return yet, hence a rebate will apply, but the precise details of this must await clarification of the actual return arrangements. All students who are affected financially by the pandemic, whether they live in college accommodation or not, can apply for college welfare or hardship support at

  • How will testing occur in Hilary Term?

    In line with University and government guidance on returns, all students returning to College should pick up three lateral flow device (LFD) tests from the Lodge as soon as they arrive, and the first test should be done immediately upon moving in to your room. If you live in private accommodation, you should arrange to come to college and collect them on your first day back in Oxford.

    You can read more about Lateral Flow Device testing here:

    If anyone doesn’t wish to take such a test they must inform me and self-isolate for 10 days.

  • When should I take the LFDs?

    You should take the first test as soon as possible after you arrive back in Oxford, another three days later, and one more on your tenth day in Oxford. You will be asked to take the tests yourself. You do not need to book a slot for testing this term.

    It is imperative that you record the results of each test as soon as they are visible. You must do this via the result reporting section of the Early Alert Service: This will help the University and the NHS to understand how the virus spreads, helping to protect the community.

  • I don't want to take the LFDs. Is there any other option?

    All students are strongly advised to take the lateral flow tests on their return. If you are still certain that you do not wish to, please inform Jan Royall on and self-isolate for 10 days.

  • How should I take the LFDs?

    A training module will be available on Canvas (, providing detailed instructions about how to take the tests. Even if you already completed the training in Michaelmas term, we encourage you to review the materials again to refresh your knowledge.

    There is also the following brochure explaining the process:

  • When shouldn’t I take the LFDs?

    You should not take the tests if:
    - You have returned from a country that is not on the travel corridor list. If this is the case you should self-isolate as per the quarantining guidance above. (N.B. LFDs cannot be used as part of the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.)
    - You have symptoms of COVID-19
    - You instead book a PCR test via the Early Alert Service and follow the advice you are given when you receive your result.
    - You have had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days. If this case, you are likely to have developed some immunity, which means the LFDs are not necessary.

  • How should I record my results?

    It is crucial that you immediately record the results of each test as soon as they are visible. You must do this via the result reporting section of the Early Alert Service: This will help the University and the NHS to understand how the virus spreads, helping to protect the community.

  • Should I test before returning to Oxford?

    If you live in a Tier 3 area in the UK with a community testing programme in place that provides LFD tests, you are encouraged to take one of these tests in your local area before you travel back to Oxford - even if you do not have symptoms.

    If you test positive you must self-isolate at home and not travel back until you have completed your self-isolation.

    If your test at home is negative, you can return to Oxford. You should still take the three LFDs when you arrive. This is because LFDs only detect infections at a certain point in time.

  • What should I do if I test positive?

    If you test positive in any of your LFD tests, you must self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test through the Early Alert Service and self-isolate until you know the results.

    If you live in college and your first test is positive, you will be asked to self-isolate away from your household to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You will need to make contact immediately with your College to discuss how your self-isolation will be managed. The quickest way to ensure you are supported immediately will be to contact your College Lodge and ask to speak with the College SPOC, Andrew Parker.

  • What should I do if a close contact or household member tests positive?

    If a member of your household or a close contact tests positive in an LFD test, they will need to take a confirmatory PCR test. You should self-isolate as soon as you become aware that your close contact has received a positive LFD result.

    You should continue to self-isolate until that person has received the result of their PCR test (but continue to take your LFD tests as planned).

    If your close contact’s PCR test result is negative, you can stop self-isolating at that point. If it is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days.

    Please note that this guidance will not apply if you live in college accommodation and the individual with who has tested positive has been asked to self-isolate away from your household and you have not been in contact with them.

  • What should I do while I’m awaiting results?

    You should limit your social contact and interaction with others until you receive the result of your first test. If it is negative, you should continue to be cautious until you have taken your second test. This means limiting social interactions (but not self-isolating). You should not take part in in-person teaching or activities such as organised sport at this stage.

    If your second test is negative, you can take part in in-person teaching, and other activities such as organised sport. The third test will help us to identify any infections that might have been acquired in the week after the first week's testing.

    You must continue to adhere to all health guidance and the Student Responsibility Agreement at all times.

  • Why should I take the LFDs?

    Lateral Flow Device tests are an important tool in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. Large numbers of students taking them will ultimately reduce the spread of COVID-19 across the community, help protect vulnerable people and minimise disruption in Hilary Term. While LFDs do not detect every case of COVID-19, if you follow the training carefully and take three tests at the start of term, this will significantly increase the chances that cases are detected – and in particular, cases that are likely to be transmitted to others.

  • What if I need to quarantine upon my return?

    The quarantining period for our students returning from countries not on the travel corridor list has now reduced from 14 days to 10 days. This can be further reduced to five days if you choose to pay for a test, which then proves negative. A list of private suppliers of coronavirus testing can be found here:

    Any days in college accommodation spent quarantining will be charged at 50% of normal rent. If you choose to you can quarantine in the first few days of term.

    We can arrange for food to be delivered to you when you are quarantining in college.

  • What if I have questions about the return in Hilary Term?

    For more information, please go to or contact Andrew Parker.

  • Where can we socialise in Hilary?

    Three social spaces will be available for use by individual undergraduate households and postgraduates can use the MCR, one household at a time. But while there will be spaces where households can socialise this term, the law dictates that they *must* do so only as a household. Any breach of this guidance will result in students being sent home immediately.

  • 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 through the University’s Early Alert Service; click here. If you arrange a test through the NHS website or NHS 111, you’ll need to notify EAS separately, so that your test results are shared with the College. 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. If at any time your symptoms get worse and you feel concerned about your wellbeing, then you should phone the Lodge on 01865 270600 who will be able to call an ambulance if needed.

  • Will we still have to wear face masks in Hilary Term?

    Face masks will be more necessary than ever when we return. Two new face masks will be left in your room at the start of Hilary term. They must be worn in all indoor communal areas, including staircases, even if you are with members of your household.

    They don’t have to be worn in kitchens or social spaces but please keep a mask with you just in case a scout, or a maintenance person needs to access the kitchen whilst you are there. In the evenings, please keep a mask with you because there may be occasions when a Junior Dean, a maintenance person or a porter comes into your corridor.

  • 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).

  • What are households and what do they mean for socialising?

    During the pandemic, all students will be living in households containing up to 12 students. Students in a household often share facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen.

    You can mix freely with other members of your household both within your household space and elsewhere. However, no more than eight students from the same household should be in any one room in student accommodation at any one time, even if there are more than 8 people in your household. Outside of your household, all national and local restrictions in regards to socialising apply. Given the current lockdown, households must be adhered to particularly carefully this term.

  • When does my household need to self-isolate and what happens if we need to?

    If you or someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, the whole household will need to self-isolate. The individual with symptoms should book a test with the University’s Early Alert Service (guidance on the EAS website) and contact Andrew Parker to let us know that you have symptoms and have booked a test so that we can look after you.

    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 from the onset of symptoms or the positive result (whichever is earlier) and the rest of their household will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the same date. 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. 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.

  • What safety measures are in place around the college now?

    The current national restrictions apply just as much within Somerville's walls as without. It is more important than ever given the serious national situation with the virus that all students follow all the current national guidelines, along with university guidance on wearing masks in communal areas.

  • How will Collections work?

    Collections will be taken in your rooms or home study spaces this term. We will request that you maintain exam conditions for completing papers to get the best possible practice in for your exams. You will be informed about the specific arrangements for you by your tutors.

  • How will teaching take place now?

    Due to the national lockdown, all teaching will take place online this term - even if you are in residence in college.

  • 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)?

    The Library will be open this term, and our Click and Deliver and Click and Collect services will continue to operate for those students living in college. Students working from home who need resources and are unable to access them online should get in touch with the library on and they will do whatever they can to help. The library staff will also continue to provide a scanning service within the bounds of copyright law, as will the Bodleian libraries. More details will be available on the college website soon.

  • Will there be any study space provision in College?

    The library will still offer a Click & Collect service in Hilary Term for students in College and for Postgraduates not resident in College to collect books from the Lodge. We will also offer bookable study spaces for two sessions per weekday.

    For latest information, check:

  • How will I collect my post from the Lodge?

    The Lodge team is working very hard to ensure that the post room can remain open seven days a week from 8am - 9pm in a safe, socially-distanced manner.

    At most times of day, numbers in the post room will be limited to 2 and the parcel room in the foyer to Lodge House will be limited to 1 person only.

    However, during the peak hours from 10am - 12noon and from 1pm - 5pm, if the post room is staffed, we will attempt to set up a system whereby you can collect your post and parcels from the post room window by the entrance to the New Council Room. If this system is in operation, we will place a sign outside the Lodge advising you where to queue.

  • 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.

  • How do I eat in college this term?

    The catering services have been reduced in Hilary Term. The only option at present is a take-away service 1200-1300 every day. There will be hot food but also salads and pot noodles, etc., that you might wish to keep for later.

  • 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 will laundry work?

    College laundry rooms will be open, but limited to one student in each laundry at a time. 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.

    Face coverings which need to be washed more regularly should be able to be cleaned using hot water and detergent in sinks.

  • 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.

  • 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 can I get documents stamped?

    If you are able to scan the document requiring a stamp from the Academic Office, please email it as a PDF to We will add an electronic stamp and email it back to you.

  • Will Terrace be open?

    Students in College will have access to three indoor social spaces in Hilary Term: the JCR in Vaughan, the terrace ante-room and the terrace bar (with no alcohol or any other drinks); and two external spaces, the marquee and the terrace. These will be open from 0900 until 2200 with one household at a time allowed to use them according to a booking system, and cleaning responsibilities on leaving.

    The chapel will also be open from 0900 until 2200 for individual piano or organ practice and for individual quiet contemplation.

  • Will the JCR and MCR be open?

    Students in College will have access to three indoor social spaces in Hilary Term: the JCR in Vaughan, the terrace ante-room and the terrace bar (with no alcohol or any other drinks); and two external spaces, the marquee and the terrace. These will be open from 0900 until 2200 with one household at a time allowed to use them according to a booking system, and cleaning responsibilities on leaving.

    The chapel will also be open from 0900 until 2200 for individual piano or organ practice and for individual quiet contemplation.

  • Will the chapel be open?

    The Chapel is not currently open due to the Lockdown.

  • Will the gym be open?

    The Gym is not currently open due to the Lockdown.

  • Why are there punishments for breaching the rules?

    The safety of our students, our staff, and the local community, is our highest priority this term and something we will all have to work towards together. Unfortunately, we will have to take robust action against anyone who does not share this aim and endangers themselves and others by breaching the rules. We have faith in Somerville students that this will not be required very often, or even at all.

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