This summary is for all staff, students and visitors to the college. 

Restrictions to Covid-19 are being lifted, but there is still the risk of Covid-19 infections, which means that the College as an employer and provider of services and facilities is obliged to continue to pay due attention to the safety and health of all of its employees, students, guests and visitors.  

Find the latest advice from the University of Oxford for students and staff on the University of Oxford COVID-19 update page. 

Some information that was previously on this page has been moved to the Covid archive.


Key Rules Relating to Covid-19

The University has now removed its remaining COVID restrictions, meaning we have an opportunity to return to a more normal way of working and studying as we head towards summer. That said, the virus is still in circulation, with stubbornly high and national and local infection rates. That means we need to remain vigilant and considerate of one another in order to ensure each other’s health and ability to remain in Oxford.  

The following detailed guidance will allow us to stay healthy, spring into summer. The key points to remember are: 

  • avoid contact with others if you might be infectious; 
  • respect other people’s space; 
  • let fresh air in when indoors; 
  • keep up to date with COVID vaccinations; 
  • respect those who choose to wear a face covering; 
  • cover coughs and sneezes and wash your hands regularly. 

Of course, these are not the only college rules and everyone is responsible for ensuring familiarity with the full guidance. Abiding by college rules is a condition of your being able to reside in college. If you have any questions about measures in place, please email Andrew Parker in the first instance.  

Some teaching or examinations may still be delivered online, which is one reason why we ask for a generally calm atmosphere in college.

Key Guidance

  1. While face coverings are no longer mandated, teaching staff may still require students to wear them in individual education settings (unless students are exempt). With stubbornly high national and local infection rates you may want to consider wearing masks in the following areas:
    • In communal areas or when moving around inside buildings (e.g. entrance halls, corridors, staircases, lifts, toilets, kitchens and social spaces);
    • In the Library, Hall, Common Rooms and Bar;
    • In other areas or situations where lots of people use the same indoor space.
  2. Gatherings are now unlimited by health restrictions. Outdoor gatherings, including in the bar area and gardens, should avoid excessive noise and mess, especially after 22:00 and during the exam period. A gathering should disperse if requested by a Porter or other member of staff. 
  3. Student residents will be permitted to have guests in the college in line with their Accommodation Agreements as long as they do not disrupt other college residents, workers or visitors. Overnight guests must be signed in at the Porters Lodge.
  4. If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has Covid-19 symptoms, we advise that you minimise your unnecessary contacts and take a lateral flow test (LFD) to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
  5. If you think you may have Covid, please respect others. Take a test, isolate yourself from other people as much as you can to reduce the fast spread of the virus and protect potentially vulnerable people, wear a face covering indoors and when you are with others. We also ask that you inform us when and if you do get a positive test result, and continue to follow government guidelines. The current recommendation is to isolate for at least five full days, with the timer starting on the day after you developed symptoms (or returned a positive test result if you were symptomless), as this is the most infectious period. The NHS suggest that if possible you should isolate for 10 full days unless you return two negative lateral flow test results on consecutive days from day 5 onwards. If, after 10 days, you continue to feel unwell or have a high temperature, the NHS suggest that you should continue to isolate until you are feeling better.
  6. We advise that in shared indoor spaces you leave windows open and ensure rooms are properly ventilated where possible.

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Students living in college can still be organised into Households to limit the spread of infection should the need arise. However, there is currently no plan or requirement to do so.  

Cleaning Student Bedrooms and Shared Spaces 

Our request for you to self-isolate if you think you have Covid applies in particular if you are meeting with any tutors or in any seminars, tutorials or labs that you might be contemplating attending, or when around support staff such as scouts, porters, maintenance and catering staff. 

Let others know that you may not be able to see them or that staff should avoid your living areas. 

Faults and Repairs  

We still want to hear about any building or building services issues you have, but if you think you have or may have Covid-19, then please make this clear to our Estates team staff members. They will assess the problem and see what needs to be done quickly and what can wait. 

Please continue to use the relevant forms on the website to register any maintenance or housekeeping issues you have. 


We know you may be more wary of using shared kitchens after the pandemic, but you are not able to cook in your rooms. The risk of fire is very real and could be catastrophic. The only items we will permit without special dispensation in student rooms is a kettle and, for those with relevant medical need, a fridge.  

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Moving Around College

Hand Hygiene 

It is still important that all College members and visitors follow good hand hygiene guidelines at all times. Wash them regularly and frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use alcohol sanitiser in between if necessary. We have installed sanitiser dispensers near bathrooms and kitchens and also at other frequently used places around the site.  

When you use an area that others may have used be ready to wipe it down if required. There are cleaning stations around college. 

One-Way Routes and Lifts 

There are no one-way systems in college except in the Hall servery.  

Face Coverings 

Face coverings are not a substitute for other health measures, such as being tested when displaying symptoms, self-isolating when unwell or required to by NHS Test & Trace, and regular hand washing. 

With stubbornly high national and local infection rates you may want to consider wearing masks in the following areas: 

  • In communal areas or when moving around inside buildings (e.g. entrance halls, corridors, staircases, lifts, toilets, kitchens and social spaces) .
  • In the Library, Hall, Common Rooms and Bar.
  • Face coverings are no longer mandated. However teaching staff may still require students to wear them in individual education settings (unless students are exempt).

Face coverings will not apply to those who have a legitimate reason including:  

  • Not being able to put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability. 
  • If putting on, wearing, or removing a face covering will cause severe distress.
  • Where interacting with someone who uses lip reading to communicate, or who has social communication impairments.
  • Children aged under 11 years.  

Do not ask someone why they may not be wearing a face-covering or if they have an exemption. Some people will have legitimate reasons why they are not able to wear a face covering. Some of these reasons may be hidden and asking someone the reason may be humiliating or intimidating for them. 

For students in our residential buildings, please can we ask you to be aware of our staff members who need to come into these spaces to work.  This could be members of our Housekeeping, Maintenance, IT or Lodge teams for example.  Please talk to them and respect their wishes, even though you’re in your own residential space. 

Social Meetings and Visitors 

You will be able to participate in gatherings unlimited by COVID-19 related restrictions.  

Student residents are permitted to bring day time guests into the college as long as they do not disrupt other college residents, workers or visitors. Guests may be brought to day to day Hall service or the College Bar if it is open. We may require guests to record their presence in some situations for test and trace record keeping. 

Please use your common sense and respect for the safety of others.  

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At Somerville, your physical and mental wellbeing are very important to us. Please read through this section for some important information, advice and contacts to help you stay happy, healthy and safe. 


You need to Be Prepared:

  • Update your prescriptions so that, if you do need to isolate, you won’t run out. (It is also possible to have someone else collect prescriptions for you if you do).
  • Get yourself a simple digital thermometer. 
  • Keep a small medical kit with cold and flu remedies, medicines for an upset stomach, the things you usually take when you’re not well and that you know you are not allergic to. Keep a small amount of first aid supplies, plasters and simple dressings.  
  • Keep these things just for you. It is nice to help others but you don’t know if you are going to have to self-isolate, so keep these in the event of quarantine. 
  • If you are unwell, and it is not Covid-related, make contact with the College Nurse Rachel Slater who is available Monday 8.30am-1pm and Tuesday – Friday 8.30am-3pm, term time (weeks 0-9) only.

To contact our college nurse Rachel, you can email: or call her on 01865 207608 during her working hours. 

If students need a GP call, they should visit the Jericho Health Centre’s website ( and use their online system to book an appointment for a convenient/appropriate time – ideally with one of the GPs associated with Somerville (either Dr Fiona Boyle or Dr Paul Ch’en).   

For out of hours care, call NHS 111 or in an Emergency dial 999. 

If you have Covid Symptoms please make an appointment with the University testing service. 

Self-Isolation Guidance 

The following contains guidance on what to do around self-isolation and Covid-19 this term – including why, when and for how long. If you have a question just email us and we will do our best to answer and reassure. 

If you develop any of the main symptoms of Covid-19: 

The government has suspended the legal requirement to self-isolate if you have Covid-19. However, if you experience Covid-19 symptoms, we advise you take an LFD test to understand whether you have the virus for sure. The Lodge holds a limited number of tests which will be made available to those with a valid University Card and who need to test because of symptoms or because of requirements for working in hospital space. They are also cheaply available commercially. 

After you get your results: 

If your result comes back positive, first of all: don’t panic. We will support you as much as possible during your self isolation in college. We ask that you inform us when and if you do get a positive test result, and that you continue to follow government guidelines to isolate for at least five days. Only leave your room if you must, such as if you don’t have an en-suite, or to prepare food in your household kitchen. Always wear a face-covering, always wash everything you touch and keep at least two metres from your household members. You’ll get a further email from the Welfare Team with information and offers of support. We will alert your personal tutor, but you should also be in touch with them so that they can make arrangements for your teaching. You should avoid going to the Hall to get meals, but you can order food from Hall and get a friend to collect it and leave it at the door of your room if Hall is open. You can find out more from the Welfare Team. If you have medical or other needs do alert us immediately. Make sure your friends know and ask them to be in regular contact to keep your spirits up and to look after your mental health. Most importantly, if your symptoms get worse and you start to feel you are struggling, please alert us immediately so we can make sure you get the care you need. 

For the latest University advice see 

And there are some other online resources here The University Counselling Service has produced a series of blogs and podcasts to support students during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Student Space website features a collection of resources to support university students during the coronavirus pandemic. These may help you to manage at present, and to anticipate and prepare yourself to meet some of the challenges ahead. 

Oxford SU has also produced a series of tips and tricks for students in self-isolation. 

All Oxford students can now also access free online support 24/7 through Togetherall – a free service giving you access to a global welfare community - 

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Facilities and Services Affected by Covid-19


The library is now open to college members 24 hours a day. 

Click and collect has ended and self-issue borrowing and returns has resumed. 

The main student printer is back on line for use as normal: printing can be released either at the machine or remotely via Papercut, and scanning and photocopying are enabled. You can find more instructions here. 

There are a few changes to how we all use library services, the most important of which are: 

  • Face coverings are strongly encouraged when in the library;
  • Windows will continue to be left open to allow for ventilation – please dress accordingly, as it may get cool in the evenings;
  • Users can wipe down the desks before and after use, using the products found at each set of desks;
  • The ground floor toilet is now open for student use, as well as the one on the first half-landing;
  • As many people will be doing exams or other assessments this term, please be considerate in your use of the library and particularly refrain from congregating on the library steps and talking: noise carries straight into the upper library from here;
  • We are now operating a group study room on the ground floor (info on the use and booking of this is elsewhere on the blog), and there is a break-out seating area in the loggia, as well as the one at the top of the west staircase, if you would like to take a break from work or have a quiet chat;
  • If at any point you need to self-isolate and would still like to borrow books, please email us and we will try and arrange for delivery of items to your room/building.

Library services will remain under review, and the library staff can be contacted by email at 


The Lodge is staffed 24/7 by a friendly team of people, including the Lodge Manager, Mark Ealey and Deputy Lodge Managers, Agnieszka Rzad and Julian Smith. They can help you with emergencies, keys, post, directions, key contacts and more.  

The Lodge has many visitors throughout the day so if you are collecting post from your pigeonhole see if others in your household would like you to collect theirs at the same time. If you are collecting signed-for items on their behalf, they will need to email the Lodge to give permission. 


Our ICT team is here to help with all your ICT needs. They are available to provide support via Virtual Helpdesk, by email, over the phone or in-person.

To book an online Teams appointment with a member of the ICT team, visit the ICT Virtual Helpdesk. These appointments are available during term-time from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

If you require ICT support at any other time, please email or call 01865 270597 and one of the team will be happy to arrange an online meeting with you.

If we cannot help you by email, phone, or by using our remote support tools, we can direct you to our appointment booking page for a face-to-face appointment.

We aim to respond to all calls and tickets within one working day (normal office hours Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm). We will then advise on the timeframe for dealing with your request.

For help and assistance with your SSO account, forgotten passwords, etc., you can also call the central university IT Support team on 01865 612345, 24/7.

The gym is open as usual. To use the gym, all you need to do is contact our Lodge Manager, Mark Ealey, to arrange an induction and complete the necessary paperwork.

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Hosting a Meeting, Gathering or Practice

A student who wishes to hold a party in a public room in College, or in a room provided under an accommodation agreement within the College, or in College grounds, or in one of the Common Rooms, must ask permission of the Dean. The event may require a risk assessment.  

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Bookable Rooms

You can book rooms for teaching or private use through the relevant room booking form as usual. Allow one working day for the booking to be confirmed. You will be asked to let us know what you want to use the room for so we can prioritise valuable bookable space.

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Somerville’s Covid-19 Community Responsibility Policy

  1. As a collegiate University, Oxford is committed to fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its students and staff are respected.
  2. The purpose of the policy is to secure everyone’s agreement to protect ourselves and each other within the University, the colleges and the wider Oxford community. It is an affirmation of shared values – community, consideration for others, respect and tolerance, and inclusion. It supplements existing responsibilities under University and college policies.
  3. Adapting to life in the College and city of Oxford under COVID-19 safety measures is new to everyone. Students and staff have developed new habits and made adjustments to their daily life to enable academic learning, support staff work and social activity to take place as safely as possible. In doing so, we need to treat each other with patience and understanding.
  4. The University and colleges have committed to putting measures in place to minimise health risks to students, staff and the wider Oxford community. Each employee also has a responsibility for both their own health and that of others, especially those with vulnerabilities. Maintaining appropriate social distance in community spaces, avoiding large gatherings as appropriate and being mindful of the needs of those alongside whom we live, work and travel will help reduce the risks for everyone.
  5. In order to protect our community’s health and support our collective wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect each other to make the following seven commitments about their behaviour by abiding by this policy.

i. I will abide by all national public health regulations brought in to stop the spread of COVID-19. I will also follow the University and college’s specific guidance on health measures, together with local public health guidance as relevant for the circumstances I am in.
ii. I will request a test via the University’s Testing for Covid-19 – Early Alert Service (EAS) immediately if I experience COVID-like symptoms, and I will notify my College and Department nominated contact accordingly. I will follow all instructions from the EAS, including in relation to self-isolation.
iii. I understand that COVID-19 is a public health issue and will cooperate fully with College, University and public health authorities, including participating fully in any contact tracing as requested.
iv. I will practise effective hygiene methods to limit contact transmission, including regular thorough handwashing with soap, the use of hand sanitisers as requested, the wiping down of surfaces and the correct wearing and disposal/washing of face coverings.
v. If I live in college accommodation, I will follow college guidelines on how I may interact with and share communal spaces with members of my household. If I live in a private household I will follow the relevant Government/Public Health England guidance. I will also follow guidance regarding how or whether I may enter others’ households and any limits on the number of people allowed to visit a household.
vi. I will show respect and consideration for the collegiate University and wider Oxford community. I will adhere to social distancing requirements and maximum group size rules, I will follow all rules and signage about expected behaviour for the space I am in when interacting with anyone outside my household, whether in college, University premises, on public transport or elsewhere in the city.
vii. I will adhere to the College’s policy and Government rules on wearing face coverings, which may include the requirement for face coverings to be worn indoors or in shared indoor spaces.

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Reporting an Incident or Inappropriate Behaviour

Out of necessity, rules and guidance designed to minimise the transmission of Covid-19 are regularly reviewed and may change with little notice within the College, University, regionally or nationally. Facilities or activities that are available or permitted today, may have to be changed or even closed tomorrow. It is very important that you act on College communications and requests from College staff, whether in response to a specific activity or a change in guidance. Please regularly check your University email and if you have any doubt about what may be safe or permitted, please contact Andrew Parker (

The College Bye-Laws are clear that refusal to comply with reasonable requirements by College staff to discontinue unacceptable behaviour, or serious breaches of health and safety, may be treated as major offences. Committing a major offence may result in suspension, temporary exclusion from College, or in the most serious cases, expulsion. The Principal may also exercise protective discretion, on behalf of the College community, and require a student to leave the premises of the College, including if the student’s conduct is threatening to persons or property, or disruptive of the proper functioning or activities of the College.

Please also remember that what is against the law outside College is against the law in College.

Safety Concerns

If you or someone you are with requires immediate medical attention, please telephone the Lodge who will arrange for an ambulance, or if there is no time for it, contact first the ambulance and then the Lodge.

Lodge – Tel: 01865 270600

In case you are concerned about the safety of another person, and it would not be appropriate or it is not possible to discuss directly with the person concerned, please contact Jo Ockwell ( / 01865 270525).

If you are concerned about the behaviour of another member of College please contact the Dean (
If you see something in College that is putting others at risk (e.g. broken fire door, electrical fault), please email or, if urgent, telephone the Lodge.

For any other matter relating to individual or community safety, please contact Andrew Parker ( in the first instance.

Consideration for others

Somerville does not tolerate any form of harassment or victimisation and expects all members of the College community, its visitors and contractors to treat each other with respect, courtesy and consideration.

Please be aware that harassment may involve repeated forms of unwanted and unwarranted behaviour, but a one-off incident can also amount to harassment. With this in mind please:

  • Be considerate of others’ space and remember that some people may wish to take a more cautious approach either because of concerns for their own health or that of family members, or because of general anxiety.
  • Do not ask someone why they may not be wearing a face-covering or if they have an exemption. Some people will have legitimate reasons why they are not able to wear a face covering. Some of these reasons may be hidden and asking someone the reason may be humiliating or intimidating for them. If necessary, College will send periodic reminders to members about the face-coverings policy.
  • Be supportive of anyone who tests positive for Covid-19. In particular, please take care not to assign blame. We must all strive to keep ourselves and others safe, taking responsibility for our actions. However, the virus can be contracted in various ways and not everything is within our control.

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Keeping Up-To-Date

This guide will be regularly updated. Please make sure you are referring to the latest edition of the guide. 

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Requesting an Amendment to this Guide

If you have seen an amendment that needs to be made to this guide, please contact the webmaster (

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