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LIVEBLOG: Covid-19 Updates

Latest Updates

  • The University has announced that all university libraries and museums will be shut until further notice
  • Trinity Term teaching and assessment will be conducted online

This liveblog will be updated as we receive new information.
The University’s advice and information on Coronavirus can be found here.

1st April, 13:30 – St John’s College cancels commemoration ball.

St John’s College ball committee has announced the cancellation of their 2020 commemoration ball: Metropolis.

In a post on the Ball’s Facebook event page, the committee said: “We cannot begin to say how disappointed we all feel with the decision from the College to cancel the Ball.

“We were emailed last night with the reasons for cancellation and why postponement wasn’t a possibility. There were a number of concerns, such as the administrative burden of dealing with exam resits, unusual accommodation requests, and responding to unusually high levels of student hardship; the diary space restrictions, such as conferences organised for 9th week of Trinity 2021, whilst we learnt that the ‘Gaudy Dinner’, for alumni, had been postponed from April 2020 until Friday of 9th week, 2021; and fiscal difficulties, namely protecting staff salaries and providing academic hardship. We were also told that there was concern that event restrictions would still be in place in 14 months time, although we note that other events had been scheduled for a similar place in the calendar.

“At this stage, the College has not committed to underwriting refunds at this point, as has been done at all other colleges which have cancelled their ball. We were told that concerns over the financial pressures faced by the College made this not possible in our case, as things stand. Further, we were told that on the grounds of trusteeship, the matter had to be put to the Governing Body of the College; we were assured that this would happen in 0th week of Trinity Term at the earliest.

“In terms of next steps: We will be speaking to the College President to gain clarity on the following points: a solid explanation for why postponement is not a possibility for early Trinity/Hilary next year, and whether full refunds can be provided.

“We are writing an open letter alongside the JCR and MCR presidents which should be ready to present at the next Governing Body meeting.

“In the meantime, the Ball Committee will be working hard to liaise with vendors and reviewing contracts to see how much of money we have spent so far can be recovered.

“We will of course keep everyone updated in terms of progress. We can’t apologise enough. It’s heartbreaking to see all our hard work go down the drain; the Ball Committee has been working on this for almost a year, so we fully relate to everyone’s disappointment.

“We would love to see the Ball postponed to a workable date in 2021; failing that, we are aiming to persuade the College to help us give full refunds to every single person.”

1st April, 11:20 – University announces exam policy changes.

First Years
– All first-year exams, with the exception of medicine and law, have been cancelled.

Second and Third Years
– Most second and third-year exams will be deferred, although some will be cancelled.
– Some exams must go ahead since they are taken by a mixture of continuing and leaving students.

– Exams will be replaced by “alternative forms of assessment” including open-book versions of standard papers, longer pieces of work completed over several days, or a mix of the two.
– Separate arrangements will be put in place for mustic and art performance paper.
– Open-book exams will be longer than standard papers, e.g. three hour papers will be extended to four hours.
– There will be a safety net policy, although the details are still being finalised.
– Students with concerns about access to technology or workspace will be supported.
– Those who are unable to complete the alternative assessment will be given the option to graduate with a “Declared to Deserve Honours status”, or they may sit exams in Trinity 2021.

More information here: https://cherwell.org/2020/04/01/university-releases-trinity-examination-arrangements/

31st March, 15:00 – Cambridge announces alternative assessment policy

Cambridge University has announced alternative exam arrangements for their ‘Easter’ term. Finalist undergraduate students and students on integrated Master’s programmes will receive a classed degree. However, a ‘safety net’ will be provided for final year undergraduates on three year degrees: “As long as a graduating undergraduate student passes their assessments, no graduating undergraduate student will receive a class lower than the class which they were awarded in their second year exams. The 2020 assessments will therefore only confirm the class awarded in their second year or improve it.” Postgraduate students will also be able to receive a classed degree through alternative assessments.

First and second year undergraduates will take “modified assessments” which will not be classed. Many will be “formative”, and therefore have no recorded marks on their University transcript. Some Faculties and Departments will make modified assessments “summative”, meaning work will receive a mark which will be recorded on their transcript, but no class will be awarded.

Finalists and postgraduate students who cannot take assessments, for reasons including illness, significant caring commitments, or technical difficulties, will be able to take the same method of assessment in a second assessment period when the University is back in full operation. First- or second- year undergraduates unable to take their modified assessments will be awarded an extension if it is formative or summative coursework, or will be able to take online assessments in a second assessment period.

Cambridge University states: “Whilst it has been agreed that the University should do all that it reasonably can to replicate the established examination processes for our students, we have acknowledged that the nature of the restrictions imposed by the national response to COVID-19 will inevitably mean significant changes being made to those processes. Consequently, Faculties and Departments have worked very swiftly to provide alternative means of assessment, which have been reviewed and are robust, fair, and inclusive.”

“There is an expectation that all students will be required to continue studying during Easter term, assuming good health and no significant caring commitments, either in preparation for the alternative summative assessments which replace examinations in Cambridge, or engaging in formative assessment where the Faculty or Department has chosen this as the alternative assessment method.”

31st March, 11:00 – University looks for Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteers

Oxford University researchers are looking for healthy volunteers aged 18 – 55 as part of their development of a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. They have started to screen volunteers to be the first humans to test the new vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

The vaccine trial, run by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, will recruit up to 510 healthy adults, who will receive either a control injection or the new vaccine. The vaccine is already in production, but will not be ready for some weeks. It is currently being manufactured to clinical grade standard at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility at Oxford University.

Professor Adrian Hill, the director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, said: “Vaccines are being designed from scratch and progressed at an unprecedented rate. The upcoming trial will be critical for assessing the feasibility of vaccination against Covid-19 and could lead to early deployment.”

The full details of the vaccine trials can be found here.

30th March, 14:30 – Summary: changes to FHS exams released by some faculties

Some faculties have released information about second and third year FHS exams. 

  • Second year biology exams have been moved from early Trinity to early Michaelmas 2020. 
  • Second year Experimental Psychology and PPL Part 1 exams have been moved from early Trinity to ‘later’ in the year.
  • Third year English exams have had some format changes. Finalists were in informed in an email that ‘The exams will all be open book.” The format of questions, and the length of answers expected will not change. These changes are not fully confirmed, and are dependent on the final decision of the University. 

Further information on Trinity term examinations and teaching is expected early this week. 

26th March, 13:35 – Worcester, Trinity, and St. Hilda’s cancel balls this Trinity

Both Worcester and St. Hilda’s College have officially cancelled their balls to be held in Trinity 2020 in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Both are offering refunds to ticket-holders. Worcester hopes to hold a Commemoration Ball in Summer 2021, whilst St. Hilda’s will organize another of its annual balls for next year.

Trinity College has instead postponed its Commemoration Ball to the 25th of June 2021. Tickets will automatically be transferred to the 2021 ball. Those who wish may instead apply for either “a full refund” or “a resale policy at a later date”.

25th March, 14:55 – Trinity term psychology exams cancelled

Psychology exams scheduled for 0th week of Trinity Term will not take place. The department said in an email to second-year Experimental Psychology and PPL students that they are “looking to providing Part 1 assessment later in the year.”

The email continued: “Unfortunately decisions on the exact timing of exams and their format do not reside with us, but with the University/the Examination team.

“Our strong departmental recommendation is for exams to run after the summer vacation. Please, note that departmental recommendations, however strong, are not an assurance of approval by the University.” A decision on when exams will take place is expected next week.

The department has stressed that it is working to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the arrangements and encouraged them to express their views through the Student Union survey.

24th March, 23:36 – New model from Oxford researchers proposes that half of the UK population has been infected with Covid-19

A team of Oxford researchers led by Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology, has proposed a new model for the spread of Covid-19, which appears to show that half of the UK’s population has already been infected.

The modelling, created by Oxford’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group, demonstrates that Covid-19 reached the UK in mid-January and spread invisibly for a month before the first transmissions were recorded. The new study is based on a ‘susceptibility-infected-recovered model’ with data from the UK and Italy, and brings back into view the ‘herd immunity’ model abandoned by the UK government.

The results of the Oxford model significantly differ from the highly influential Imperial College London model and suggest that current restrictions could be removed sooner than government indications, but Professor Gupta tells Financial Times that since the Oxford model has yet to be confirmed, social distancing will still reduce pressure on the NHS. However, she is confident that ‘humanity will build up herd immunity against Covid-19.’ Antibody testing on this new model will begin this week, in collaboration with Cambridge and Kent Universities.

The model can be viewed here.

24th March, 19:21 – Christ Church Ball postponed

The organisers of Christ Church’s commemoration ball have announced that the event, due to be held on Saturday of 8th Week, has been postponed.

An email to ticket holders said: “It is with enormous sadness we must announce that we have decided to postpone Christ Church Ball for the time being. We appreciate this is extremely disappointing, but it is the only responsible decision given the current set of circumstances. We will continue to monitor the situation closely to work out a suitable future date. However, due to the huge uncertainty of the present situation, it would be premature to do so at this time.”

Refunds have not been offered at the moment, but reassurances have been made that “ticket holders’ payments are safe.”

24th March, 19:10 – Petition to reimburse fees reaches 160,000 signatures

A petition calling for all university fees from this academic year to be reimbursed has reached 160,000 signatures on the UK Government’s website. The petition points to the UCU strikes and the COVID-19 outbreak being responsible for “poor” quality teaching this year.

The full text of the petition reads: “All students should be reimbursed of this years tuition fees as universities are now online only due to COVID-19, with only powerpoints online for learning materials which is not worthy of up to £9,250. Furthermore, all assessments are being reconsidered to ‘make do’ and build up credits.More details

“Field trips have also been cancelled which our tuition fee was to pay for. There is also no need for accommodation which students have paid between £4,000-£8,000 for in advance and adding to their student debt. Lastly, the extended strikes of this year have severely disrupted student-staff interaction and personalised help, with staff not replying to emails or available for meetings. Grading is also being delayed. Overall, university quality is poor this year and certainly not worth up to £9,250.”

The petition can be signed here.

23rd March, 18:39 – Magdalen closes library

Magdalen has closed the College’s libraries for all students, fellows, and lecturers. 

Students were informed by email of the decision after the Magdalen COVID-19 Working Group met remotely this afternoon. The email said: “We recognise that this will have an impact in particular on those Magdalen students who are still resident in Oxford, but unfortunately the situation is now such that we do not see any alternative. However, measures have been put in place to mitigate this impact as much as possible.”

Magdalen undergraduates will receive a book grant of £200 for the purchase of subject related books for the remainder of the year.

23rd March, 11:07 – Oxford researchers to trial COVID-19 vaccine 

Oxford University scientists are developing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The researchers have identified a vaccine candidate and are working towards the first clinical testing phase.

The vaccine will start animal trials next week at the Public Health England laboratory at Porton Down. Researchers are planning to conduct the first trial of the vaccine candidate on humans next month. This will move into a larger trial to evaluate how effective the vaccine is at protecting against infection. 

A statement from Oxford University says: “Scientists around the world are working hard to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but there is a lot to be done. A team in Oxford led by Prof. Sarah Gilbert, Prof. Andrew Pollard, Prof. Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas and Prof. Adrian Hill started work designing a vaccine on Saturday 10th January 2020. The current status is that they have identified a vaccine candidate and are working towards the first clinical testing phase.

“A chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1), developed at Oxford’s Jenner Institute, was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose and it is not a replicating virus, so it cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual. This also makes it safer to give to children, the elderly and anyone with a pre-existing condition such as diabetes. Chimpanzee adenoviral vectors are a very well-studied vaccine type, having been used safely in thousands of subjects, from 1 week to 90 years of age, in vaccines targeting over 10 different diseases.

“At the same time as preparing for and conducting the first clinical trial, production of the vaccine is being scaled up ready for larger trials, and potentially, future deployment.”

21st March, 15:44 – Cambridge offer second round of exams 

An FAQ released by the University of Cambridge has informed students that there will be a second round of examinations for those who cannot take their exams this summer. This additional round of exams will be sat “once the University is fully operational again”.

However, Cambridge have said that the additional round is only intended for students who have “legitimate reasons” why they cannot complete their exams in the coming term. Examples given by Cambridge include, “illness, caring responsibilities or technical difficulties”. 

20th March, 20:52 – Oxford looks to bring forward graduation for final year medics

Final year medical students may have their graduation brought forward to help deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. Many students in the clinical stage of their degree have offered assistance.

A media statement today said: “Over the coming days and weeks volunteers will be deployed to a number of key roles, ranging from administrative and logistic support through to clinical trials seeking effective treaments, to support in our clinical departments. It is amazing to see the scale of their engagement and willingness to help”.

“Although efforts are being made to bring forward graduation for final year medical students where possible in order to assist the management of the COVID-19 crisis, no medical student will be permitted to graduate until the University has evidence to confirm that the person has met the GMC’s required standards and outcomes. All graduating doctors at Oxford and all universities, whether they graduate early or not, will be of the standard needed to ente​r the medical workforce.”

20th March, 18:10 – Second-year Biology FHS exams postponed

The Biology Department at Oxford has announced it will be postponing 3 written papers in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The exams were due to be sat by second-year FHS students in Week 1 of Trinity Term. 

The new, later date remains undecided, proposing the start of Michaelmas 2020 as a tentative date. 

This has been decided based on the “unanimous view that trying to hold these examinations remotely at the start of Trinity term using novel formats is unworkable operationally and undesirable educationally.”

20th March, 14:03 – Ruskin College closes premises

Ruskin College has taken steps to close its premises from 20 March to 20 April. The college says they are following government advice to shut down in response to coronavirus. Further updates for Ruskin College students, staff and faculty will be available via emails and the college website. The college’s update states: 

This step has been taken to safeguard the health of all students and staff. These are unprecedented times; the College will do all it can to ensure that you will continue to succeed in your studies. It is clear that the Department for Education will need to review the whole process for entry into University this year. We will keep you updated.”

19th March, 19:29 – Cowley Road Carnival cancelled

Oxford’s Cowley Road Carnival, scheduled for 5 July, has been cancelled due to coronavirus. The Carnival is one of the largest of its kind in the country. The organisers are planning other ways to celebrate Carnival without endangering participants. 

Pax Nindi, Trustee of Cowley Road Works, the charity which organises the Carnival said: “To keep spirits up over the coming months, Cowley Road Works hopes to be able to offer carnival pop ups which can be enjoyed from a safe distance, to provide much-needed carnival colour for us all.

Clare O’Hara, Director of Cowley Road Works, said: “We know that what the community needs now more than ever is a bit of the carnival spirit in our everyday lives, so we are putting plans in place to bring surprises, joy and togetherness into the lives of our local community.”

19th March, 13:42 – #WeAreOxford fund suspended

The City Council has announced it will suspend the #WeAreOxford grant scheme following government advice recommending social distancing. 

The #WeAreOxford grand funds activities which bring people together and celebrate what Oxford citizens have in common.

“This pandemic highlights how important a sense of community is for us all”, said Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities. She added: “But the immediate need is to support people in their own homes and protect the health of our most vulnerable residents”

Mar 19th12:24 Keble Ball postponed 

Keble has announced that the 150th Anniversary Ball will be postponed to the 26th of June 2021 due to coronavirus. It was scheduled to be held on the 27th of June 2020. 

The tickets will remain valid for the later date. They are offering a full refund to those who wish, but note “ticket prices for next year may increase”. 

Keble is the first of the many college balls scheduled for Trinity 2020 to postpone in light of unprecedented circumstances and government advice regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. 

For more information visit the Keble Ball Facebook page:


Mar 18th 20:12 The Bullingdon cancels gigs and club nights

The Bullingdon has announced it will cancel or reschedule all live gigs and club nights until the 2nd of April in light of new government advice on Covid-19.

Their Cocktail bar will however remain open as usual. They are offering refunds for cancelled events and tickets will remain valid for rescheduled dates. 

For more information and updates, follow The Bullingdon’s facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/bullingdonbar/

Mar 18th 17:00 Oxford Pride 2020 postponed

Oxford Pride has postponed its annual parade due to Covid-19 fears. The parade was scheduled for Saturday, May 30 at the Radcliffe Square. Organizers have made the “difficult decision” to postpone the event to Autumn 2020. A new date is set to be announced soon.

A message on the Oxford Pride Facebook page said: “Above all else, it’s of paramount importance [for] us to do as much as we can to promote the safety and wellbeing of our Pride attendees and the wider community of Oxfordshire.”

“Thousands of people attend our Parade Day each year, and as a mass gathering, we cannot run the risk of further people acquiring the virus within Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties.”

Mar 18th 14:03 Cambridge moves into ‘red’ phase

Cambridge University has moved into its ‘red’ phase. This means students are asked to return home if possible, all teaching will move online, and there will be alternative assessment arrangements. All University buildings will close by 5pm this Friday, aside from those needed for “business-critical” activity and for “research relating to Covid19 or other areas in the immediate national interest”. Libraries will close at 5pm today. 

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen J Toope, stated: “The government yesterday declared that it expects to take “further and faster” measures in coming days. I am writing to let you know that, in light of these latest government announcements, and of recent developments including a growing number of staff members now working from home, the University has today moved into its ‘red’ phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.”

“We are all facing an unprecedented crisis. It may be months before we resume normal activity. Throughout that period, the University will endeavour to keep you informed and up-to-date. We will need all the fortitude, resilience and generosity of our collegiate University community to get us through. I am confident that this crisis will bring out the best in all of us.”

Mar 18th 12:12 Union buildings closed

The Oxford Union will be closed from 5pm Thursday 19 March in response to the recent outbreak of Covid-19. Access to some rooms was restricted earlier this week, and the Union has announced to members that the entire building will now be closed.

A email to members said: “We are monitoring the Government’s advice, and will inform members nearer the time of our opening arrangements for next term, and keep them informed of any changes.”

“We are unable to give a definitive answer as to when the library will be fully operational again, but provisionally this will be in time for the start of Trinity Term.”

Mar 17th 17:31 Update from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education 

Main points from the University’s update:

  • Trinity Term exams will not be in a written format, and are expected to be online.
  • The University is moving all teaching to online. 
  • Libraries will be closed until further notice.
  • Graduate students now encouraged to work from home.
  • Staff now encouraged to work from home.

Full text of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s message below:

“Overall, the University remains operational, However, we are responding by closing some public areas, and implementing local contingency plans. We are also encouraging staff to work from home, where possible.

Specific new advice for students is as follows: 

Recent changes to advice and guidance

Libraries and other facilities

  • University library buildings, as well as museums, will be closed until further notice. However, a wide range of resources are being made available online. Please contact the relevant library for further details, or visit the Bodleian Libraries website for more information. The University’s parks and gardens will remain open, although cafes will be closed.


  • The UK Government now advises against all non-essential travel, within the UK or abroad. It is unlikely that research or teaching and other University business will be considered essential – although there may be exceptions. Our advice yesterday to international students considering travelling home remains unchanged. Please consider that the global situation is changing rapidly, and if you are overseas then you risk difficulties with local quarantine, flight cancellations and border restrictions.


  • In line current guidance on social distancing, the UK government now advises that large gatherings should not take place. If you are running a student event, please refer to the Guidance for Event Managers, which has now been updated online. 

Easter vacation advice for postgraduate students

UK taught postgraduates

  • A significant change is that we are now advising all UK-domiciled students on taught courses who have homes outside Oxford to leave the University as soon as possible unless they have a compelling reason to stay. This previously only applied to UK undergraduate students. If you are unable to return home, you should speak to your college or department/faculty and we will seek to accommodate you where possible. 

UK research postgraduates

  • Postgraduate Research students are encouraged to work from home, or from your University/College accommodation, if it is practical to do so. You should consult your supervisor to discuss any practical issues resulting from this. 
  • International students
  • The guidance for international students remains unchanged since yesterday – although the Government is now advising against all non-essential travel, which you should factor into your decision about whether to stay or return home. 
  • We recognise that some taught students may face considerable uncertainty over how to conduct projects and dissertations, particularly those with a laboratory or fieldwork component. We are developing plans to address this issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available.

Trinity term planning 

  • Detailed planning continues in relation to teaching, learning and assessments in Trinity term. I can now confirm that wherever possible, teaching and learning will be moved to an online format, and we are developing plans for activity that cannot be readily substituted by an online format. We can also confirm that planned written paper examinations (scheduled to be held in Exams School, Ewart House etc.) will not go ahead in their normal format in Trinity term. Instead, we intend to move to an online approach.
  • Detailed contingency planning is underway to prepare for these changes, and details will follow as soon as more arrangements have been made. We appreciate your patience as we take this work forward.

Thank you for your continued understanding as we react to this unprecedented situation. As ever, if you have any questions about the above, please contact your college or department/faculty in the first instance, and we will keep you updated as soon as more information becomes available. We continue to post regular updates on the dedicated coronavirus advice page, so please check back frequently: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/coronavirus-advice.Mar 17th17:21Written exams will not occur as usual in Trinity Term

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor stated in an email:

“Detailed planning continues in relation to teaching, learning and assessments in Trinity term. I can now confirm that wherever possible, teaching and learning will be moved to an online format, and we are developing plans for activity that cannot be readily substituted by an online format. We can also confirm that planned written paper examinations (scheduled to be held in Exams School, Ewart House etc.) will not go ahead in their normal format in Trinity term. Instead, we intend to move to an online approach.

“Detailed contingency planning is underway to prepare for these changes, and details will follow as soon as more arrangements have been made. We appreciate your patience as we take this work forward.”

Mar 17th 15:48 Oxford City Council release statement on protecting businesses and jobs

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) is already being felt by businesses and their employees, with staff being laid off and those on zero-hour contracts being told not to come in. Without urgent intervention from central government, in a matter of weeks large numbers of people across the country will be facing problems with being able to afford to pay their mortgage or rent.

“The Government’s announcements to support businesses in last week’s Budget, particularly the 100% rate discount for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, were helpful – but further measures are now needed. The French government has, for example, pledged €300bn to support its economy, and said that no business will go bankrupt as a result of coronavirus.

“The City Council will continue to do all it can to help businesses in Oxford. We have a team of colleagues who are quickly facilitating Government grants and rate relief, and we are surveying businesses in the city to get a clearer understanding of their immediate needs and identify ways we can help.

“We stand ready to get behind the Government and help in any way we can. There is only so much a council can do – we simply do not have the financial resources of national government, and we are keen to see further measures and funding announced today.

“We need our government to adopt a similar scale of ambition as France to protect our citizens. The objective must be to protect businesses and jobs in Oxford and across the country.”

Mar 17th 12:07 Bodleian Libraries to close 

The Bodleian Libraries will close from tomorrow (18 March). Further information via the link below.

Bodleian Libraries to close

Mar 17th 12:05 Brookes confirms second case of Covid-19

A second student has tested positive for coronavirus at Oxford Brookes University, announced on Monday 16th March. 

Whilst Brookes has stated that both the university and halls of residence will remain open, it is declaring a number of reading weeks to start on Tuesday 17th of March until Friday 3rd of April. There will be no teaching during this period. After, the University has stated that teaching will resume online only, with no face-to-face teaching. 

More information:


Mar 16th 20:20 Cambridge announces contingency plans for next term

Cambridge University announced contingency plans for ‘Amber’ and ‘Red’ situations in an email sent to all students. In ‘Amber’, next term would continue, but with reduced social contact. In ‘Red’, teaching and assessment would take place remotely, with students staying at home if possible. 

The Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor stated that the university is currently in amber: “Amber reflects the delay phase now announced by the Government, and requires measures to delay the spread of the coronavirus. This means that, at the moment, we envisage that business will continue as usual as far as reasonably possible, save for large group meetings (we are judging a large group to be 50 people or above) and mechanisms are being put into place to reduce social interaction.” 

“If – but it is a big if – we remain in amber into the Easter Term, which begins in late April, we would anticipate that small group teaching and supervision would continue, and there will be enhanced measures for online teaching… In this situation, examinations and assessments would continue as planned wherever possible.”

“We must also however prepare moving into a red situation, in which much of the University will need to close. I stress we are not there yet, but must prepare for the prospect of it and possibly soon.”

“In this situation, students will not return after the Easter vacation, or, if in Cambridge, will return home where possible, and if not able to do so they will be accommodated in their College.”

“In red, there will be no face-to-face teaching: all teaching will be conducted remotely. Faculties and Departments are making plans to deliver this in the best way possible, using a range of methods including lecture capture, online/ video conferencing, and Moodle, recognising the needs of students in different locations and international contexts.”

“Faculties and Departments are considering ways to allow examinations to be taken online as open book examinations, or by adopting other methods of assessment, which may include: extended essays, portfolio of essays, vivas through video-conferencing.”

Mar 16th 17:48 Boat Races cancelled

The Boat Club stated in a Facebook post that: “The Boat Races are cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are bitterly disappointed, but minimising the spread of this virus has to be the number one priority.”

Mar 16th 15:23 Pro-Vice-Chancellor updates the University’s policy 

Below is the full text of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s email.

“I am writing to follow up on my email of last Friday with some further information about Hilary term submissions, Trinity term arrangements, and advice for international students travelling home for Easter. The information included in this email may be relevant to you whether you are an undergraduate, a taught postgraduate or a research student. 

“Once again, I would like to reassure you that your welfare is of paramount importance. The University will put in place measures to ensure that no student is academically disadvantaged by their response to coronavirus. 

“Hilary term submissions 

“As per last week’s note, all timed, written exams during the Easter vacation have now been cancelled or postponed. It will be possible to submit all written assessments (dissertations, extended essays etc) online, and the Proctors have put in place a 48 hour extension to all submission deadlines, to account for disruption resulting from coronavirus. Your department or faculty should be in touch with you about the details.

“Trinity term teaching and assessment

“Many of you would understandably like more clarity about the University’s arrangements for Trinity term. I would like to reiterate that detailed planning is underway. At this stage, I can confirm that we anticipate that most or all teaching and assessment next term will take place remotely. I anticipate that more information about this will be available within the next week. Thank you for your patience while we make the necessary preparations. 

“International students: travelling home for Easter

“There has been a number of queries from EU and International students about whether they should return home for the Easter vacation. 

“This is very much an individual choice that should be made based on personal circumstances. If you cannot get home, or you feel you would prefer to stay in Oxford, you are welcome to do so and we will support you staying in Oxford. However, if you would prefer to be with your family, and it is safe to do so, you are welcome to return home. The Proctors have confirmed that residency requirements will be waived for all students for the remainder of this academic year, giving you more flexibility to come into Oxford as and when required. 

“If you do decide to leave, you should be aware that travel restrictions may make travelling back to Oxford more difficult. We will try wherever possible to offer remote teaching and assessment internationally. However, this will be dependent on local infrastructure and internet availability, so we cannot offer guarantees of worldwide coverage. We are putting contingency plans in place for students who are not able to take assessments in Trinity term. 

“When considering what to do, you should prioritise your own wellbeing and that of your family over any concerns you may have about your academic work. As per the introduction to this email, the University will put in place measures to ensure that no student is academically disadvantaged due to actions they take as a result of coronavirus. 

We will provide further information as soon as we have it, and I would encourage you to get in touch with your college or department/faculty if you have any further questions at this stage. Please also continue to check the University’s coronavirus advice page, which is being frequently updated.”Mar 16th15:12Trinity Term expected to be online

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor has informed students that “we anticipate that most or all teaching and assessment next term will take place remotely”.

International students will be given a choice whether to remain in the UK or return home. The University stresses that “you should prioritise your own wellbeing and that of your family over any concerns you may have about your academic work”.Mar 16th13:24NHS Oxfordshire releases new rules on visitors due to Covid-19

The NHS Foundation Trust for Oxfordshire stated: “With immediate effect, we are limiting visiting to all adult inpatient areas to one visitor per patient – and visiting hours will be restricted to 4.00pm – 7.00pm only.

“We are also limiting the number of people who can accompany patients to our Emergency Departments, Emergency Assessment Units (EAU), outpatient departments, antenatal scans and imaging appointments to one person per patient.

“In Maternity, we are restricting visitors to birth partners only for all appointments including scans, the birth itself and postnatal visiting.

“In Paediatrics, visiting is restricted to two parents / guardians only – no siblings.

In Maternity and Paediatrics the restrictions on visiting hours will not apply.

Case by case exceptions to the above need to be discussed with the nurse or midwife in charge of the ward or department.

 This information is also on OUH website at: https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/news/article.aspx?id=1204

Mar 15th 11:47 Oxford Brookes confirms first case

Oxford Brookes University has confirmed its first diagnosed Covid-19 case on the 13th March. The University states that the campus will remain open as usual.

More information below:


Mar 15th 10:40 University of Oxford confirms 7 cases

The University announced a 7th confirmed case of Covid-19.Mar 15th10:39Oxfordshire cases rise to 21

According to Public Health England, Oxfordshire now has 21 confirmed cases. 

Mar 14th 01:20 Hertford closes communal areas

Hertford has closed several communal areas to combat the spread of Coronavirus. The college’s JCR, MCR, hall, gym, and tutorial rooms will all be closed from Monday. The library will be accessible for book collection only. It is not clear if these arrangements will continue into Trinity Term.

The college has also introduced a social distancing policy which encourages student and staff to avoid face to face meetings, handshakes, and visits from friends or family outside of college.

Principal Will Hutton informed students of the change in policy via email this afternoon.

Mar 13th 13:31 Main points from the University response

  • All Easter vacation exams have been cancelled.
  • Domestic students advised to return home.
  • International students who cannot return home can stay.
  • 6 confirmed cases at the University

Mar 13th 13:24 Update from the Vice Chancellor

In an email from the Vice-Chancellor, she stated:

“To date we have six confirmed cases in the student body. We are in regular contact with these students and I am very happy to report that they are recovering well. I would like to thank the college and University teams and Oxford University Hospitals for the support they are providing. Out of respect for their privacy and following advice from Public Health England we have not revealed detailed information about these students.

You will have heard that the Government has now moved from the containment phase to one of delay in its response to the virus. This is an acknowledgement that we anticipate the number of cases to escalate significantly and that we expect this virus to be with us for many months. 

You will know that the vast majority of people who are infected with the virus will experience only mild symptoms, and that those who are most at risk are the elderly and those with serious chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes. 

In light of the projected length of the pandemic the Government has decided not to invoke at this time the more radical response adopted by some other countries. We are following Government advice. It is nevertheless the case that the operation of the University will inevitably be severely disrupted, starting with the measures outlined below.

I fully appreciate that the disruptions caused will have serious personal and professional consequences for many members of our community and will be deeply disquieting to all of us. I wish I could prevent that. What I can do is promise to communicate with you throughout the course of this crisis and to provide as much information as I can so that you can make decisions in the best interest of yourself, your family and your colleagues. I would also like to reassure you that we are very mindful that some staff and students have particular concerns about their own vulnerability or that of a close family member. We encourage you to speak in confidence to your college or department about your personal circumstances. 

The University intends to remain open until instructed to do otherwise but we will have to develop new ways of working together. In particular, we will have to adapt to using technology for meetings, teaching and assessment in ways we have not done before. This will not be a smooth transition but a great many committed colleagues are working tirelessly to make it as effective as we can. We will use the Easter break to prepare for the transition to online teaching and assessment.

While the Government has not yet instructed us to cancel large gatherings many departments and colleges will make their own decisions about meetings and events. We encourage the use of technology wherever possible. We have cancelled a number of University access events over the break including Easter UNIQ and the Oxford Cambridge conferences, as well as the Alumni Reunion in Berlin. We have also decided that the May graduations ceremonies will be in absentia only.

All exams scheduled for the Easter break (March 16-April 2) have either been cancelled or rearranged. All students concerned have been notified directly.

We are advising all domestic undergraduates to return home for the break unless they have a compelling reason to stay. This is to reduce the density of the population and the strain on college staff and support services.

International students who cannot travel home are welcome to remain.

For now, PGT students are encouraged to stay and study in Oxford.

The University will waive the residency requirements for Trinity term for those PGR students who choose to go home to work on their research.

The University and colleges will do everything possible to support those of you who have to go into self-isolation.

The Medical Science Division is cancelling all clinical teaching until further notice in order to release clinical teachers to the wards.

University museums and gardens will remain open for now. Libraries, like other University services, are putting in place contingency plans to allow services to continue digitally should they be required to close.

At this point, we intend to resume teaching in Trinity term but we will keep you informed as the situation develops nationally.”Mar 13th12:34Law Moderations cancelled

Law Moderation exams, scheduled to be held in 9th week, have been cancelled. Currents plans will be for students to take the exams as open-book, take home papers early next term. This information was sent in an email from the faculty to first year law students. They stated: “We will need to get approval for these arrangements from the relevant university bodies”. Mar 13th11:37Merton asks undergraduates to vacate residence

In an email to students from the Warden, Merton has asked all undergraduates to vacate college. Exceptions include “those from Category 1 countries and those sitting examinations in Oxford during 9th week”. Merton are asking students to leave by noon on Tuesday. They are also requiring students “to clear your room and take your belongings home”. 

Mar 13th 10:44 Colleges change vac res policy 

Colleges have changed their vac res policy.

More information below:

https://cherwell.org/2020/03/13/colleges-announce-vac-res-policy/Mar 13th10:33Magdalen sends students home

In an email seen by Cherwell, Magdalen has advised all Magdalen undergraduates to return home. It stated that they “strongly advise those of you who have previously been granted permission to reside in College accommodation over the Easter Vacation to return home this weekend”. Exceptions are made for those who “have University examinations or required course submissions next week, are unable to travel overseas, or have an urgent need to stay in College”.

Mar 13th10:22Vice-Chancellor to set out University position

Cherwell understands that the Vice-Chancellor will set out the University’s position in a letter later today. 

Mar 12th20:23Cases in Oxfordshire up to 17

Reported cases in Oxfordshire are up to 17, according to an update from Public Health England. This is the third highest of any local authority, behind Kensington and Chelsea and Hertfordshire. Mar 12th17:36Brasenose ‘Spring Fling’ event cancelled

Brasenose College has cancelled their annual Hilary Term event, scheduled to be held tonight, according to an email sent by the JCR President to members of the college. Brasenose will be refunding all ticket holders.

 Mar 12th17:06More colleges cancel bops

Cherwell now understands that at least 5 colleges have cancelled bops scheduled for this week: Lincoln, Christ Church, Oriel, Merton and Corpus Christi.

Additionally, St Hilda’s College has restricted access to end-of-term celebrations to members of the College.

Mar 12th 16:07 Second bop cancelled 

Christ Church have cancelled their college bop, due to take place on Friday 13th March. College administration circulated the information, citing their ‘responsibility to staff and students’. Christ Church have also postponed ‘Dean’s Collections’ for this term. Mar 12th16:01Total cases at the University up to 5

The University Oxford has stated that: “Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that three additional students at the University of Oxford have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). All three are in self-isolation and are being provided with all necessary support and medical advice. This brings the total number of confirmed cases at the University to five students.”

Mar 12th14:43City Council plans aid for the homeless

The Oxford City Council has released a statement saying it is “committed to keeping services open and protecting homeless people from coronavirus”. They are hoping make use of a £500 million PHE coronavirus hardship fund intended for vulnerable populations. 

Mar 12th 13:59 Students at St. Peter’s advised to go home

Students at St. Peter’s College have been advised to “get home as soon as is convenient” in an email from the college Master, Judith Buchanan.

She urged students to “minimise risk” to themselves and others, adding that “exceptional times require exceptional responses”.

11th March, 16:52 – Careers Service suspends current programmes

The Careers Service has suspended appointments and events at the Careers Service building “due to the evolving situation with Coronavirus (Covid-19)“. This information was sent in an email to students.

11th March, 16:36 – 9 cases in Oxfordshire

The number of cases in Oxfordshire now total 9, according to updated data from Public Health England. 

11th March, 15:11 – Hertford Ball Cancelled

Hertford Ball, planned to be held on Friday 11 March, has been cancelled. Organisers have stated in a Facebook post that ticket holders will receive refunds in the coming weeks.

10th March, 22:21 – Lincoln cancels bop

Lincoln College has cancelled a bop, scheduled to be held on Friday 13 March, according to an email sent to members of the College.

10th March, 17:57 – New College services

New College has cancelled all concerts and Evensong services until the end of full term (Saturday 14 March), according to an email sent to members of the college.

10th March, 17:25 – 7 cases in Oxfordshire

Public Health England has reported than the number of official cases in Oxfordshire is now 7, up from 5 previously

10th March, 16:10

Second case confirmed

9th March, 23.20

First case confirmed at the University

Image Credit to Mike Peel / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC-BY-SA-4.0. 

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