Image Description: A picture of the roof of the Radcliffe Camera, with leaves in the foreground.
The University of Oxford has today issued new guidance concerning the return of students for the start of next year. An email sent to staff confirmed that the University would be moving to Stage 1 of the Business Continuity Plan from the 6th September.
The announcement from the Vice Chancellor, in an email sent to all staff this morning, will bring the University into line with Stage 4 of the UK government’s roadmap. It will mean a return to in-person teaching, a return to offices and labs for staff members and researchers, and increased public access to the University. Face coverings will no longer be mandatory in University buildings and social distancing will no longer be required, although there may be some mitigations in place for crowded, poorly ventilated areas.
The Vice Chancellor also encouraged all staff members to get a COVID-19 vaccine, if they haven’t already, and praised the work of the Oxford academics who developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Students are also encouraged to have their vaccine as soon as possible before returning for Michaelmas.
“It is only because of the extraordinary work of our academics who have developed a lifesaving vaccine and those who have discovered effective treatments for Covid that we can contemplate returning to on site working. While the virus will persist, the odds of serious illness are now very low. Regular testing will continue to be available and I would plead with any members of our community who have not been vaccinated, please get a vaccine.”
The University also communicated the updated advice in a series of emails to students. In an email sent to returning students, the university outlined new COVID-19 guidelines, the approaches to be taken to in person teaching and travel information for international students.
From the 6th of September the University will ask students to take the following actions concerning COVID-19:
- Get vaccinated as soon as possible if you have not already done so
- Wear face coverings where asked (unless you are exempt)
- Test regularly
- Follow self isolation guidance
Students will not have to socially distance unless notified by specific departments or colleges.
The University has also confirmed the return of majority in-person teaching saying:
“In line with the latest UK Government guidance, we are planning to provide most teaching in-person this academic year, as normal. This will be enhanced by high quality online resources and, in some instances, online teaching.”
While the use of face coverings will be required in larger group teaching it is not expected to be necessary in smaller groups such as seminars or classes.
Assessment over the next academic year will vary from in-person, closed booked to online and open book. This is being left to individual departments to decide and students should look out for emails from their individual faculties. The Politics Department and Law Faculty updated students recently.
An email was also sent to both Undergraduate and Graduate offer holders to explain what the changes will mean for those joining the University in the autumn. The email encouraged those who are not yet vaccinated to have their vaccination as soon as possible, including those outside of the UK. International students were also reassured that they would be able to access vaccination upon reaching the UK if they are unable to access vaccination at home.
The University in-house testing centre will remain operational. The Early Alert Service provides PCR testing for those with symptoms or a positive LFD result.
Image Credit: Chen Chen