Covid-19: Guidance for Students

Updated 26/11/20 @ 20:48

On this page, you can find the links and information you need to stay safe and have a successful term in college.

  1. Book a test from the University.
  2. Oxford University current students FAQs (updated for Christmas vacation)
  3. When Should I Test? Check the Oxford University Flowchart.
  4. Self-Isolating in College? Read the Self-Isolation Guide
  5. How to Use the Library This Year
  6. Wellbeing advice for Somerville Students
  7. ICT Help and Advice
  8. Purchase of IT equipment for online tutoring request form
  9. Download the NHS Covid-19 App: Apple or Android


  • 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.

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

    Until further notice, 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.

  • How many people can I meet and socialise with this term?

    Until the 3rd December 2020, you can mix only with your own household, or with one other person from outside your household. Further details of what you’ll be allowed to do after the 3rd December will be published shortly.

    After 3rd December 2020, Oxfordshire will go into Tier 2. For Somerville students, this means there can be no mixing between households indoors, with the exception of support bubbles, but that up to six people from different households may socialise outside in a designated College social space, e.g. the Quad, the marquee, the outdoor Terrace space.

    If you are with someone who is not a member of your household, such as at mealtimes, in tutorials, and in clubs and societies, you *must* maintain social distancing at all times. If you are indoors, you will need to wear masks in accordance with the university face covering policy (this includes being in the corridors and staircases in your accommodation). You are not allowed to mix with Somerville students from other households in your accommodation, including in corridors.

  • Where can we socialise outdoors in College?

    In addition to the benches in the quad and the picnic tables on the Vaughan terrace, households can also meet in the marquee in the Quad. Households must be socially distanced with no greater than 6 members together at one time and furniture *must not* be moved as it has been carefully placed to ensure distancing between tables. The marquee will close at 23:00.

  • Where can we socialise indoors?

    Where can we socialise indoors?
    While we are in Tier 2, you can socialise with your household in one of the spaces set aside for this. These are: the Brittain-Williams Room, the Upper Terrace Breakout Area and the Terrace Bar itself. Booking is via an online system (available here).

    At this time only one household may meet in these spaces – socialising between households is currently not allowed.

  • 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?

    It's vitally important to follow the latest guidance on preventing the spread of the virus, including social distancing, hand hygiene 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 face covering when you are outside, with your household in your accommodation, or while eating and drinking. We have provided everyone with two reusable face coverings at the start of term. We have also placed hand sanitiser stations around the college.

  • Will I have to wear a face covering?

    From September 7th, you must wear a face covering around college in accordance with the University’s Policy on face coverings. That means you need to have one on in college buildings, including during tutorials and classes; if you are in the library; when entering and exiting your household accommodation; and when entering and leaving the Dining Hall and Terrace Bar (although you may remove your mask to eat and drink once seated).

    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.

  • 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.

  • How will Collections work?

    Most collections will be taken in your rooms. We will request that you maintain exam conditions for completing papers to get the best possible practice in for your exams later in the year. 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 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.

  • I’ve been in a tutorial/teaching space with a student/member of staff who has subsequently tested positive. Should I self-isolate?

    Unless you are identified as a contact through Track & Trace, PHE England or the NHS Covid-app, and told specifically that you need to self-isolate, then you do not need to do so at this point. However, you should be extremely careful to minimise your interactions over the next couple of days or until you are contacted by PHE/Test and Trace. This means that you should stay in your accommodation/room as much as possible; keep away from other household members if you can; maintain social distancing; and don’t have any visitors. You should wash your hands more frequently and make sure you are regularly cleaning surfaces in rooms that you all use – like kitchens and bathrooms. This is so that the risk of transmission is kept as low as possible. Also, if you start to develop any coronavirus symptoms, let your college know; stay in your accommodation or room; and book a test.

  • 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 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 there be any study space provision in college?

    We are making three rooms on the ground floor of Park available as individual bookable evening study spaces. More information, and a booking form are available
    here :

  • Can I have a guest visit college or 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.

    This policy has been put in place for the safety of our community, and applies to everyone without discrimination, from students to staff to academics to senior management. Exceptions have only been made for an extremely small number of individuals in single person households (who, following prior arrangement with the Deans, can have one visitor or bubble with a neighbouring household in college).

  • 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.

  • 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?

    Shared printers are not currently available but you can send documents to print using our web-based printing service and collect items from the Lodge (weekdays only). Full instructions are here

    Please remember to add your name to your printing or we won't be able to pass it on to you.

  • 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 or calling 01865 270865 during her office hours, 11AM-3PM Mon-Fri.

  • 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 hall this term will seat 54 socially distanced diners, meaning that there will be several sittings for each meal. You will need to book in for a sitting by 12PM the day before 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. To see a step by step guide to using the new system, visit meal booking:

  • 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 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 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 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.

  • Will Terrace be open?

    The Terrace is not currently open. After 3rd December, Tier 2 restrictions mean The Terrace will remain closed.

    *When* we finally return to Tier 1, The Terrace will re-open, serving a takeaway café menu from 09:00-17:00 and operating as a bar from 17:00-21:30.

  • Will the JCR and MCR be open?

    Both common rooms will re-open but there will be a cap on the maximum number of students in there at any one time, which will be advertised on the door. The JCR and MCR committees will draft a risk assessment setting out how the common rooms can be used prior to re-opening.

  • Will the chapel be open?

    The Chapel is not currently open.

    *When* we return to Tier 1, the Chapel will again re-open, and yoga and meditation sessions with limited numbers and social distancing will be resumed.

  • Will the gym be open?

    We are planning to hold a trial reopening of the gym at the start of term. Only one student will be able to use the facilities at a time, and an induction will still be required for new users.

  • When are quiet hours this term, and why have they been expanded?

    Because so many study spaces in college and around the university are either off limits or restricted this term, we have decided to expand our quiet hours on weekdays to 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00 (in addition to the existing times of 23:00-08:00) to make sure you will be able to study or relax in the daytime. As before, you are asked during quiet hours to make sure that you don't disturb your neighbours by ensuring that any noise or music does not extend beyond your bedroom door.

  • 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, it is so important that 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.

Return to the Covid-19 hub