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College policies vary after easing of national restrictions

Following the easing of national Covid-19 restrictions on May 17th, Oxford Colleges have begun to update their policies on teaching and college life. All students are now permitted to return to Oxford for the remainder of Trinity term but residency requirements are still suspended. 

In an email sent to all students on Friday, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Williams outlined the University’s updated guidance and arrangements for Trinity term. The University asked students to “enjoy Oxford responsibly as the restrictions ease” and reminded them that they “must continue to follow all health guidance to protect the community. While the outlook is more optimistic and restrictions are gradually easing, the pandemic is not yet over”.  

Current government guidelines on social gatherings state that outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people, while indoors, two households can meet or people can gather as a group of six. In emails seen by Cherwell, colleges have outlined how the easing of these restrictions will impact college life for the remainder for Trinity Term.  

While people from two households will be allowed to meet indoors, St Hugh’s students were advised not to “rush into each other’s households” and were reminded that “the driver behind this easing is to enable families and loved ones to be able to more freely spend time together – the ‘household’ definition used by the Government is probably not best suited to our student ‘households’ where we have large numbers and not much shared social space”. Households will be permitted to have visitors from a single other household. 

St Peter’s students will not be allowed to enter areas of the College not allocated to their own household and students will not be allowed to invite guests onto the College site. The College said: “We appreciate that this is less permissive than the national-level rules in place from Monday 17 May, but a review of our covid risk assessment has identified significant logistical and health and safety concerns should we relax the current rules.” However, groups of six students, regardless of household groups, will be allowed to sit together in the dining hall. A similar rule around household mixing will remain in place at St Catz where indoor gatherings will continue to be limited to one household in College accommodation and staircases. 

The household bubbles implemented at the beginning of the term will remain in operation at Regent’s Park but students can “freely mix within and between [their] current bubbles”. At Hertford, households will be permitted to have other Hertford members as visitors but the College “strongly suggest[s] that the rule of six is still useful as a guide”. Non-college members will not be permitted on the College site in Hertford, while at Regent’s Park, guests can access the College’s public areas and can attend meals, but will not be allowed to stay overnight.

Overnight guests will also not be permitted at St Hilda’s or Jesus but will be allowed on the colleges’ grounds. At St John’s College, individuals will only be allowed to meet with one other visitor in the College Gardens. Students at Pembroke were asked to avoid inviting visitors and to only do so if it is “essential”. 

Guests will be allowed to stay overnight at Balliol, Univ and St Edmund’s Hall, but students are reminded that government guidelines means that only one person per household may be permitted to have an overnight guest at one time. 

Colleges have also updated students on vacation residency in 9th and 10th Week of Trinity term. Students at St Edmund’s Hall are “welcome” to remain in college residence for 9th Week of term and will be charged “at the normal room rate”, and at St Hilda’s, students can also stay in 9th Week at normal vacation residence rates. All undergraduates at Hertford will be permitted to remain in College residence “for a period beyond the end of 8th Week”. Teddy Hall and Hertford have also outlined arrangements for events in 9th week which include BBQs, garden parties and formals. 

Univ told its students that any undergraduate may remain in College accommodation until July 3 and that additional accommodation will be charged at the College’s “lowest nightly rate”. Students may also apply for financial assistance with the cost of accommodation. The College also said that if “practical constraints allow” continuing undergraduates may return to College “one week before Welcome Week next year”.

Image Credit: Jill Cushen

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