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.


Key Rules Relating to Covid-19

This summary is for all students in residence during Michaelmas Term. Whilst Covid-19-related restrictions are mostly lifted, there remain in place important measures, both national and College-related, intended to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections.

This means that we expect College life and activities to be full and active, but there may still be some limitations, restrictions or requirements at some times, or in some places, or at some events. Some teaching or examinations, for example, may be delivered online, which is one reason why we ask for a generally calm atmosphere in College. 

This page provides a summary of key rules that are in place to reflect this balance, and which apply to all students in residence. They are not, of course, the only College rules and everyone is responsible for ensuring familiarity with College’s rules and guidance. The COVID 19 Information Guide is kept updated to reflect changes in Covid-19 rules. Abiding by College rules is a condition of your being able to reside in College. If you have any questions about measures in place during Michaelmas Term please email Andrew Parker ( in the first instance. 

Key Rules Relating to Covid-19

  1. Face Coverings:  there will be no mandatory wearing of masks in College, with the exception of the Library, where you will be sitting in a confined space next to other students for a long time. If you wish to wear a mask you are, of course, welcome to do so, and there are parts of the University in which you will be expected to do so. The wearing of masks in tutorials will be for individual tutors to decide. Anyone who is vulnerable should feel able to ask others to wear a mask. Please keep one with you at all times.
  2. Small gatherings are unlimited by restrictions, although a risk assessment for crowded or extended indoor events may require some mitigating restrictions. Outdoor gatherings, including in the bar area and gardens, should avoid excessive noise and mess, especially after 22.00. A gathering should disperse if requested by a Porter, Junior Dean or other member of staff. 
  3.  From Monday 11th October 2021, student residents will be permitted to have day time guests in college, including for lunch.
  4. Members of the JCR and MCR may bring two guests to guest nights. Members of the SCR may bring three guests to guest nights (partner + guests).
  5. Overnight guests are now also permitted in college. Overnight guests must be signed in at the lodge in order to comply with fire safety regulations.
  6. After the 16th August, if you have been double-vaccinated in the UK or you are under 18 years and 6 months old, you will not need to self-isolate if a close contact has Covid-19 symptoms (whilst awaiting a test result) or tests positive for Covid-19. 
  7. You will need to self-isolate if you have not been double vaccinated in the UK and are 18 years 6 months or over and you are notified that a close contact is awaiting a test or test results or has tested positive.
  8. You will still need to self-isolate if you have symptoms and are awaiting a test or a test result or if you test positive. 


Anyone found to be in breach of College rules, including those relating to Covid-19 and disturbance, will be penalised. We use a sliding scale of penalties proportionate to the severity of the offence as follows:

  1. Formal warning for first offences that are perceived to be minor.
  2. Community Service OR reflectional essay OR a ban from guest nights/bar OR a small but significant fine (£50).
  3. Requirement to move out of College for a period (i.e. until first year exams or after subsequent exams).
  4. Requirement to leave College immediately/suspension/sending down.

Repeated offences may be escalated as a major offence, with subsequent penalties broadly increasing one class at a time. 

The Principal may exercise protective discretion and require a student to leave College premises if the student’s health or conduct is such as to damage or put at risk the safety and welfare of the student or other members or employees of the College.

As a guide, the types of activity that will not be tolerated, and for which mitigating circumstances are unlikely to exist, might include the following: refusing to self-isolate when obliged to do so; creating a disturbance indoors or in the gardens during a period of scheduled examinations; creating mess and/or damage to College property, including through trashing; refusing to comply with reasonable requests by the Porters, Junior Deans, or other members of staff.

The Dean also has the prerogative to require a student to move rooms within College if this is likely to reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

Any fines levied will be paid to external charities, to make it clear that the College has no intention of profiting from any charges.  The purpose of any penalties, including fines, is not for the College to benefit from wrongdoing but to influence behaviour sufficiently to prevent it and/or prevent it recurring.

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This year, we have adopted a system of ‘shadow households’ by which students are arranged into groupings according to their residences. The term ‘shadow households’ is intended to acknowledge the fact that these household groupings are currently notional and will only come into effect to deal with any spikes in COVID-19 requiring lockdown. In the meantime, if a student contracts COVID-19, not all members of their household will be considered to be a close contact – they may have little interaction with others on their corridor and will not therefore be obliged to take a PCR test. It is only close contacts, not all members of the household, who must take a PCR test.

As explained elsewhere, close contacts of an individual with COVID-19 are obliged to take a PCR test, but are only required to self-isolate if they are not double-vaccinated OR have COVID-19 symptoms.

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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

There will be no mandatory wearing of masks in College, with the exception of the Library, in which you would be sitting in a confined space next to other students for a long time. If you wish to wear a mask you are, of course, welcome to do so, and there are parts of the University in which you will be expected to do so. The wearing of masks in tutorials will be for individual tutors to decide. Anyone who is vulnerable should feel able to ask others to wear a mask. Please keep one with you at all times.

We will keep this guidance under regular review but expect it to be in place until at least the end of Michaelmas Term 2021.  

If a tutor requests the wearing of face coverings then this should be respected. In certain circumstances (a small and/or poorly ventilated space), we might recommend the use of face coverings following a risk assessment. Teaching staff may choose to remove face coverings where this enables them to deliver their teaching more effectively.
In an office setting face coverings need not be worn, particularly if you are generally interacting with the same group of people.

For students in the Household spaces in our residential buildings, please 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 or Household 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.

The evidence is clear that mixing socially is safest to do in the open air, with people maintaining a safe distance. It is clearly safer to minimise the frequency of social gatherings and the numbers present. It will remain critical that students and staff continue to follow the guidance. Please use your common sense and respect for the safety of others.

As a precaution we have reduced the number of spaces per table in the dining hall.

As a result, guest numbers have gone down this term. Members of the JCR and MCR can bring up to two guests into dinner assuming they have been booked in using the meal booking system. Members of the SCR can bring three guests (partner & couple).

We request that all guests take an LFD test before joining us for dinner.

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Medical Info

First and foremost, be prepared:

  • Update your prescriptions so that, if you do need to isolate, you won’t run out;
  • 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-Friday, 10-12.30, 1-4 (term-time).

Email:, Tel: 01865 207608

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

First of all – don’t panic. Not every sniffle or sore throat is a sign of Covid-19, but do take this seriously. Everyone here at Somerville is here to support you, and we will be available to you throughout the period of isolation that you may have to undertake.
If you have a question, just email us ( and we will do our best to answer and reassure you.

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

First things first, book a Covid-19 test with the University’s Covid-19 testing service.

A test with the University’s Covid-19 testing service can usually be taken on the same day it is booked, and results are coming back within 24 hours at present. The college will get an email telling us that you have booked a test and we will be in touch with you with support and information.

Whilst you wait for your test and test result:

  • You should self-isolate: remain in your household accommodation, more specifically in your room, and ensure that you keep physically distant from your household members and all others.
  • Only use shared spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens in your household when strictly necessary. If you have an en-suite you should only use those facilities. If you do use a shared space – such as the kitchen to prepare food – do not do so with other members of your household, always use a face-covering, and ensure that you disinfect all the surfaces and utensils that you have touched with the products provided by the scouts that are available in your kitchen. Please do not leave any of your belongings in the shared spaces of your household.
  • Exercise outside your room is not permitted during self-isolation.
  • Alert the rest of your household. If they are over 18 and not double vaccinated they may need to isolate with you, awaiting the result of your test.
  • While you are self-isolating, we will deliver three meals a day directly to your door, if you would like. Your meals will arrive in sanitised packaging which you will be able to dispose of in your bins as per usual. If your bins need to be emptied, simply leave them outside your room. You will not be left hungry. If you have medical or other needs, do alert us immediately.
  • Please notify your tutors and department that you are self-isolating, awaiting the results of a test.
  • Make sure your friends know and ask them to stay in regular contact to keep your spirits up and look after your mental health.
  • We will also deliver your post. If you need any other supplies or luxuries, you can arrange contactless deliveries with your friends, your peer supporter or the JCR/MCR. Ask people bringing you items to knock and leave them outside your room rather than coming in – but please do not ask anyone to do your washing-up or laundry for you, as your crockery and clothes could be contaminated.

After you get your results:

If your result comes back negative and your symptoms have gone, anyone isolating with you can come out of isolation.

If your result comes back positive, it is not the end of the world. If your symptoms do get worse and you start to struggle, alert us immediately. You must remain in isolation for a further 10 days from the onset of your symptoms and remain in your room, and only leave your room if you absolutely must – 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 college 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 to move on line, if it is not already.

If you receive a positive test result through a route other than the University’s Covid-19 testing service (e.g. via the national testing service), you must complete the form for reporting external coronavirus positive results, continue to self-isolate, and report your absence to your department and college.

If someone you know has symptoms and books a test or gets a positive result

You only need to act if you have been a *close contact* of that person. Close contact is defined as any of the following taking place with the infected person within 48 hours before the onset of symptoms or up to ten days after the onset of symptoms:

  • Any direct physical contact
  • Face-to-face contact (within one metre)
  • Contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • Being within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes

On the other hand if you have kept a physical distance of two metres or more (e.g. outdoors or in a tutorial) and you have followed other social distancing practices you will not be counted as a close contact and you won’t need to self-isolate.

If you are asked to self-isolate or get a test by a college officer or the NHS Test and Trace system then you must do so. If you are in doubt about what to do please ask the College Nurse or another member of the Welfare Team.

If you’ve had two doses of a vaccine approved in the UK and are over 18

If you are identified as a close contact of a positive case and have had two doses of a UK approved vaccine or are under 18, you will just need to book a PCR test; you will not need to self-isolate.

In all cases your own close contacts will not need to self-isolate unless:

  • they have also been identified as close contacts of the original person and they haven’t been double-vaccinated, or;
  • if you develop symptoms or test positive and your close contacts haven’t been double-vaccinated.

If your PCR test comes back with a positive result then you will need to self-isolate following the rules above.

If a close contact lets you know directly that they are waiting for a test results or have tested positive and you need to self-isolate because you haven’t been double-vaccinated, you should contact Andrew Parker ( so that we can support you.

When we know you have tested positive or are self-isolating, you will get an email from the college with further information and offers of support.

Alongside the support we provide, remember to look after each other. Check in on the person who is has tested positively; e.g. offer to cook for them, and chat through the door or online with them. You will get through this.

If you have any questions or concerns, then simply ask. We are here to help and as a community we will get through the coming weeks together.

If you received one or both vaccines outside the UK

The UK Government currently has different rules in place governing self-isolating and quarantine for those arriving from overseas. Under current UK guidance, people can avoid quarantine after arriving in the UK if they have proof of vaccination with an approved vaccine from a number of specific countries.

However, you can only avoid self-isolation (if you are the contact of someone with COVID-19) if you have been vaccinated in the UK.

You can check if you qualify as fully vaccinated (in relation to international travel); and read the rules on self-isolation in the UK on the UK Government website.

The University and colleges understand that this is causing concern and confusion for some students and we are working with the wider sector to ask the Government to align the guidance.

We are currently obliged to follow Government rules, but will alert you if any changes are made.

Staff and students who are working or studying on site will be able to access regular symptom-free (Lateral Flow Device) testing twice a week, every week. Tests can be collected from the Porters’ Lodge.

Who should participate?

Testing is voluntary but we strongly encourage everyone to participate, including those staff and students who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 90 days ago.

It is possible to order LFD tests via a number of other routes – details of which can be found on the Government website. Staff may choose to use non-University testing routes (for example, if they are not in Oxford, or they have irregular work patterns) where it minimises travel or is more convenient.

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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 recommenced.

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 will be required in the library, as you’ll be sitting in a confined space next to other students for prolonged periods.
  • We know that letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), so windows will be open for ventilation. As such, do remember to bring a jumper or a coat during colder weather.
  • You will be required to wipe down the desk you use before and after use, employing the products found at each set of desks.
  • The ground floor toilet will remain for staff use only, but water bottles may now be filled from the water fountain in the west staircase.
  • Library staff will be available to answer queries at the desk in the loggia from 9-6 each weekday, and there will be graduate supervisors in the loggia from 6-10pm every day of the week.

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 and so, while you are still welcome to collect post and parcels from the Lodge, or ask for directions, etc., we would ask initially that you only make essential trips to the Lodge. 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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Latest Advice: Travelling Home for Christmas 2021

You are expected to get tested for COVID-19 before you leave Oxford for the Christmas vacation. 

You should do this by taking two LFD tests (and report the results) three days apart, before you go – as part of your regular testing. Your college will have test kits available for you to use. You should leave Oxford as soon as possible after your second negative test and also collect a box of tests to take home and use just before returning to Oxford after the vacation. 

 If you test positive in any LFD tests or develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and book a confirmatory PCR test, preferably through the Early Alert Service. If that is positive, you will need to stay in Oxford and self-isolate. You will also need to alert the appropriate contact at your college. 

If you are travelling outside the UK, you must also follow all guidance related to international travel from both the UK Government, and the country you are travelling to.

Support for students during the Christmas vacation 
As in a usual year, most undergraduate students living in colleges are expected to return home once teaching has finished, while graduate students and those living out may remain in Oxford. Students needing support after the end of term, should refer to the support available over the Christmas vacation PDF, which has details of available resources.