Wolfson and COVID-19

This is Wolfson’s one-stop page for keeping you up-to-date with the latest actions taken, and latest advice offered, by the College during the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It will be updated as often as there is any significant change.

College Guidance on this page:

Latest actions and advice

Our absolute priority is to protect and support those who live in Wolfson and for whom the College is their home. The College will remain open for residents and services for residents will continue to be offered at the highest possible level. To that end, and following the latest advice from the Government:

  • Wolfson College has been closed to visitors since Tuesday 17 March.
  • Fellows, students and members of the common room who do not live in College, or who do not have offices here or who do not have any another essential reason to be here should not come into College.
  • The Lodge will remain open for enquiries and deliveries, and to enable those Wolfsonians who are not residents to check and clear their pigeonholes.
  • Everyone is asked to observe a social distance of at least two metres and to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Please see our Services Updates below for the latest information on College facilities and services.

Maintaining continuity in services

While the health of our College residents and staff is our top priority, the College also remains committed to all Wolfsonians not living in College. The President and Officers, and all branches of the College administration, are operating as close to normal as possible. We will continue to do our best to assist and support you through email and by phone. You can find our contact information on our People's Pages.

Reducing the number of people working in College

On 17 March, all non-essential staff were asked by their Head of Department to begin working remotely. Although the decision excludes specific service staff who provide essential welfare, safety, and maintenance services to our residents, we asked most staff to work remotely. Our goal is to protect each of us, our colleagues, and the general population. The best way to avoid getting or spreading the virus is to minimise social interaction and avoid community spaces. With very few exceptions, everyone at Wolfson is now working from home.

Work-life resources. This is a stressful time for all of us. We understand that some of you are facing additional challenges, such as caring for children or other family members. Wellness information and resources are available through external organisations such as Mental Health Foundation and the NHS.

Following the government’s guidance

On 23 March 2020, the government introduced three new measures to tackle the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. They are:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Every citizen must comply with these new measures and the relevant authorities, including the police, have been given the powers to enforce them – through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Staying at home

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessities – for example, food and medicine. You should shop as infrequently as possible.
  2. One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  3. Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  4. Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Even when undertaking these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household.

Discouraging visitors from coming to the College

To protect everyone's health, residents are now not permitted to host or bringing visitors to the College. We need to be mindful of other community members who live here and who may be more susceptible to COVID-19, such as those with chronic medical conditions. The Vicegerent has the authority to fine students and fellows who disregard this rule.

Accommodation Information

  • If you wish to vacate your accommodation earlier than your end date you may do so without financial penalty.
  • Please inform the Accommodation Office if this is your intention, on accommodation.office@wolfson.ox.ac.uk.
  • Please ensure you remove all your belongings.
  • The College may be able to assist with storage; if you are not able to take everything with you.
  • Every effort will be made to keep a room available if you wish to return to accommodation prior to the end date of your current tenancy.
  • Maintenance staff and contractors will continue to carry out essential work but may not be able to respond to routine requests .

Facts about COVID-19 infection

COVID-19 infection is dependent on exposure to the virus, but details about transmission are still emerging. The most important route of transmission is likely close contact with sick patients who spread respiratory droplets when they cough or sneeze. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible for someone to be infected by touching an object or surface contaminated by COVID-19 virus and then touching their mouth, nose or, potentially, their eyes. The reported incubation period (time from exposure to the onset of symptoms) ranges from two to 14 days.

Please see the update from the University on how scientists are tackling the disease.

Precautions to take for your well-being and safety

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing (see the NHS Guide to washing your hands).
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Please use the phone or remote access services rather than meeting in person.
  • Stay at home if you are ill – do not go to work.

What to do if you become ill

Wolfson help

If you have any questions or concerns relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, including self-isolating, or if you are experiencing symptoms, please email the Wolfson Coronavirus Help team at coronavirus.help@wolfson.ox.ac.uk

Contact our College Nurse

The College Nurse, Kerry Minton, is on call for practical medical advice and support during this period. Please note that at this time, she can only assess minor ailments and injuries virtually. You can contact Kerry through wolfson.nurse@nhs.net.

Contact our Welfare Officers

Our Welfare officers, Amogh, Bogdan and Fahad, are available to be contacted through email. They will get back to you as soon as they can.

Academic concerns

The following people can assist if you have questions or concerns regarding your studies.

Service Updates
Food & Drink

The Hall is running a takeaway service. Please maintain two metre social distance at all times: be careful to respect the two-metre gap signs and keep appropirate social distance from staff. 

● Lunch is available Mon-Fri 12:00 – 14:00 and brunch on Saturday 09:30 – 11:30.

● The Upper and Lower Common Rooms have been closed until further notice. The Café remains closed to all. 

Ordering Food and Hygine Packs
● You can order a pack of supplies to help you to prepare your own breakfast and dinner, which you can order the Wolfson Online Gateway. See list below. 
● Given out limited staff numbers, the packs will be the same for all on each day but we will change the contents from day to day.
● If you book a pack, it will be ready for you to take away at lunchtime. 

Food for residents in isolation 
● For those who are self-isolating with symptoms and cannot therefore leave their rooms, food can be ordered to be delivered at lunch time, which would include a hot meal and supplies for you to make your own breakfast and dinner. Click here to book this service through the Gateway.
● We will deliver it to your room. Staff will knock and leave your food outside.
● Given our limited staff numbers, please ony use this service if you are self-isolating. We aim to meet dietary requirements as much as possible, however options are limited. The content of the pack will vary day to day.

Groceries Pack

The following list is indicative only, the items may vary with availability.

1 x can of baked beans/pasta or similar
1 x day supply of tea/coffee materials
1 x dried instant soup mix
1 x sweet snack
1 x savoury snack
1 x serving of breakfast cereal
1 x breakfast bar
1 x juice

£3.50 for students.  £7.00 for all others

Hygiene pack

1 large bottle of hand sanitiser
1 roll of toilet paper
2 purse packs of tissues
10 antibacterial wipes

£2.50 regardless of College status.

Hot lunch

One main hot dish
Two hot side dishes
One piece of fruit

£3.50 for students.  £7.00 for all others.

The Library is now closed. 

The carrels will stay open for those who have been allocated one. Please note that it is your responsibility to keep the carrel clean.

A wide range of digital services are available through the Bodleian Library's SOLO database.

Click here for the Bodlean Libraries' webpage on Keeping the University Reading. 

For further information, please contact our Librarians Fiona and Julia

The minibus stopped operating from 24 March 2020. 

Wolfson’s IT Team has cancelled the IT Surgeries until further notice and will be dealing with most issues remotely.

Find out more about how to work remotely.

For any IT queries, please email it.support@wolfson.ox.ac.uk or call 01865274121.

Rubbish disposal
For those who are self-isolating with symptoms, we are able to provide a waste collection service by following the procedures below: 

Please notify Housekeeping by using the housekeeping request form

Waste should be double bagged. 

Bags should be labelled "Rubbish-Symptoms" and placed outside your room from 9.00am the following day after you have sent a housekeeping request. Monday to Friday only.

As we are extremely short staff we can only provide this service for people who are genuinely showing symptoms so please only request this service if absolutely necessary.

Cleaning materials
As many of you have requested to clean your own rooms, and we are short of staff, we have taken the decision to ask you to clean your own rooms so we can focus on cleaning the communal areas. Cleaning materials, including hoovers (which we can confirm are safe to use) will be left out for use. Please can we ask that you wipe down all equipment before and after use.

The laundry machines are now free to use. To operate them, you will need to close the door and press the start button. 

For those who have self-isolated with symptoms, we are able to provide a basic laundry service by following the procedures below: 

Please notify Housekeeping: click here for the housekeeping request form

Clothing should be sorted in to a washable loads and be double bagged in black bags.

Bags should be labelled "Laundry-Symptoms" and placed outside your room from 9.00am the following day after you have sent a housekeeping request. Monday to Friday only.

The bags would then be stored for 72 hours before they can be washed. 

As we are extremely short of staff we can only provide this service who are genuinely showing symptoms so please only request this service if absolutely necessary.

Following government instructions the gym is closed from 26 March 2020 until further notice. 

Letter to our residents 17 March 2020Download

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Our upcoming events

Annual Lecture
21 - 21
May May
Annual Berlin Lecture 2020
Thursday 21 May - 6:00pm to 7:00pm


Further details including title and abstract to follow. Launched in 1990 to celebrate the 80th birthday of the College's Founding President, Sir Isaiah Berlin, the Berlin Lecture is in his own field of study, the history of ideas. Each Trinity Term, we welcome speakers of the stature of Professor Amartya Sen, Professor Roy Foster, Professor Timothy Garton Ash, Michael Ignatieff and Baroness Helena Kennedy.