University Coronavirus Update: 3 positive cases, twice-weekly testing, outdoor sport

Image Description: View of the Radcliffe camera (left) and cartoon of a woman holding giant rapid Covid-19 test (right)

The University has recorded 3 positive cases out of 39 tests taken between 13th and 19th March, down from 6 in the previous week. Further, twice-weekly asymptomatic testing arrangements are confirmed to be in place from Monday 12th April for students, as well as staff working on-site, to be accessed through dedicated testing sites around Oxford. From the 7th April, the number of available library spaces will increase, and some organised outdoor sports can also return from Monday 29th March. 

This week’s testing results, reflecting two student cases and one staff case, give a positivity rate of 7.7%, bringing the University’s total to 1,253 positive tests out of 6,868 taken since August 2020. 

In other news, a National Day of Reflection will be taking place tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd March) to mark a year since the first UK COVID-19 lockdown, with a minute’s silence taking place at 12pm.

The introduction of twice-weekly testing follows Government guidance and these will be available to all students who have been permitted to return to Oxford for Trinity term. Students will be invited to attend testing sites around Oxford, with full details still to come. Upon returning to Oxford, students are expected to take a Lateral Flow test on their arrival date, and a further test three days later. Colleges will provide details on how to access these. 

This move coincides with the move to Stage 2 of the University’s business continuity planning framework (BCP) which allows for a small number of undergraduate students to return to take part in catch-up teaching from 12th April (in addition to some taught postgraduates who have already returned). Students on non-practical/practice-based courses will continue to be taught online until at least Monday 26 April 2021, subject to changing government guidance. 

From the 7th April, nearly all remaining library sites will be open to readers, with the total number of bookable places rising from 850 currently, to 2250 (Monday-Friday), 1400 (Saturday), 1150 (Sunday) by 0th week Trinity Term. The Radcliffe Camera will also transition from Click & Collect to Browse & Borrow between the 12th and 23rd April, providing access to more slots and books as well as releasing more bookable seats. 

From Monday 29th March, outdoor sports facilities and some organised outdoor sports can return, subject to the guidance of their National Governing Body. Iffley Road Sports Centre will partially reopen for outdoor sport for students who are in Oxford from this date. For non-organised sport, participants should continue to comply with the Rule of Six when outdoors, and cannot mix with other households when indoors.

Image Credits: (left) Aidan Jones (right)Safety vector by freepik