Living at Wolfson

The Prime Minister has announced the government's roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. Find out what this means for Wolfson below.

Last updated 20 April 2021.

The health of our College members and staff is our top priority. The College has remained open throughout the pandemic, supporting 200 or so residents onsite as well as providing support to those living offsite. We are here to help all members and you can find our contact details on our People's Pages.

Please remember: In order to lift the restrictions, we need you to follow the rules. We will have no hesitation in reimposing restrictions if rules are not being followed. The College has a disciplinary system in place to sanction individuals in breach of College regulations. 

Spring Break Update

Please head over to this webpage for the latest on travelling back to the College. Please note the information on this page only applies to Wolfson students currently resident in Oxford.

Government's roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown

The Prime Minister has announced the government's roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. Click here to read the full detail.

What does this mean for Wolfson College? Here's what the next few months could look like. At each stage, we and the government will be guided by the data on the virus. Moving from one stage to another will only take place if four tests are met: 

  • Does the vaccine deployment programme continue successfully?
  • Are vaccines reducing hospitalisations and deaths effectively?
  • Are infection rates not surging, putting pressure on hospitals?
  • Are there worrying new variants?

What follows, therefore, is a tentative outline of the timetable towards lifting lockdown at Wolfson if the health data continue their encouraging trajectory. The possibility of new local lockdowns remains if there are flare-ups in the number of cases.  In all these steps the requirement for 2m social distancing outdoors and indoors, and face covering indoors remains, except within households. Good ventilation is vital. The more we go out, the greater the risks of contagion through hands and faces will be, so we’ll need to reinforce the habit of washing hands regularly and thoroughly. And College fines of up to £500 continue for any breach of the College COVID rules.

All members of College (students and Fellows) are able to come into College, even if it is not academically necessary. For the moment, guests and Members of Common Room are still unable to come in, though we keep this under constant review. 

Teaching in the LWA restarts. 

Seated meals in Hall restart for lunch and dinner. 

Until 26 April the Wolfson students rent policy remains in place - if those renting a College room are, for COVID reasons, either unable to return to their room, or choose not to, they will not be charged rent. This will be reviewed in advance of this date and further information provided for residents.

Furlough scheme due to end.

Social contact rules to be lifted by the government, and limited indoor mixing permitted. We will be allowed to make our own personal decisions about what kind of contact we want with others, depending on whether we have been vaccinated. 

We hope to open access to the Upper and Lower Common Rooms, with their refurbished balcony, though with some rules about access routes and numbers. 

Overseas travel likely to be permitted. 

Intensive three-week exam period through week 8 to 10, with many students taking online exams in their rooms in College: minimal social disturbance through this period

Reasonable celebratory events permitted outdoors to celebrate the end of Trinity Term, though indoor formal dinners less likely unless the data are very reassuring.

The government hopes to lift all legal limits on behaviour. But some guidance on behaviours will remain for some significant time. This could include self-isolation for those with symptoms and positive results.

The furlough scheme has been extended until 30 September. The College will continue using the scheme as appropriate, although we hope that with the upcoming easing of restrictions we may be able to bring more staff back to work in the coming months. 

Guide to Life at Wolfson

Residency requirements have been removed for Trinity 2020 so if you wish or need to stay home for the remainder of the academic year you do not need to apply for dispensation in order to do so. Only a very small number of taught courses are open for in-person teaching from 08 March but students may be permitted to return if they meet certain requirements. For more information please see the University website. Please note that all those wishing to return to Wolfson accommodation must not make any travel plans until they have received permission to return to College from Anyone travelling to Oxford from outside the UK will need to follow national travel guidance surrounding testing and quarantine.

  • To limit numbers in College and aid social distancing, staff should continue to work from home whenever possible.
  • Managers should ensure that only people who cannot work remotely attend College. If you are working from home and haven't done so already, please complete the risk assessment and read the display screen equipment workstation checklist.

Learn more about working during COVID-19 here. 

We have put a plan in place that insures that people are protected, to the highest possible level, while meetings and events are being held. This plan is based on Government guidance and completed H&S Risk Assessments, and we will continue to update it as guidance changes. Click here to read our guide on secure events.

College Health Rules

All College members must understand and adhere to the health and safety policies we have put in place, and which are described here:

Lateral Flow Tests

The launch of symptom-free testing ahead of the start of Trinity Term

Students working or studying on site can access regular symptom-free (Lateral Flow Device) testing twice a week, every week in Trinity term starting from 12 April. 

The new symptom-free testing centres are located in easy-to-access sites around Oxford. St Luke's Chapel (Radcliffe Observatory Quarter) and the University Club (Mansfield Rd) are open from 12 April. The Richard Doll Building on the Old Road Campus will become operational soon after. 

Tests should be booked via the University's new symptom free testing webpage

We strongly encourage everyone to participate, including those who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 90 days ago. It is possible to order LFD tests via a number of other routes – details of which can be found on the Government website.

Anyone who tests positive in any LFD tests (including those via community testing or received from the Government via another route), must self-isolate immediately and book a confirmatory PCR test, preferably through the University’s Early Alert Service. If staff or students receive a PCR test result, positive or negative, through a route other than the University Early Alert service (e.g. via the national NHS service), they must report their result by using the Report a Test Button on the University’s testing webpage. 

As before, too, there will be consequences for your household if you test positive in that PCR test; you and they will need to self-isolate for 10 days if you are living together at that point.

You shouldn’t take the tests if:

  • You’ve returned from a country that is not on the travel corridor list. You should instead self-isolate for ten days. Sadly these tests cannot be used as part of the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.
  • You have symptoms of COVID-19. You instead book a PCR test via the Early Alert Service and follow the advice you are given when you receive your result.
  • You have had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days. If this case, you are likely to have developed some immunity, which means the Lateral Flow Tests are not necessary.

Any worries you have at a College level, please get in touch with


Click here for more information on the University web page.

Click here for Lateral Flow Test Instructions Pamphlet (PDF)

Lateral Flow Tests

The launch of symptom-free testing ahead of the start of Trinity Term

Together with the vaccine programme, symptom-free testing is a key pillar in the fight against COVID and is playing a vital role in efforts to return life to normal.  By testing yourself regularly, you can ensure that you do not bring the virus into the College or spread it to colleagues or friends.  We therefore strongly encourage all staff to regularly test themselves.  The tests are straightforward, easy and quick (especially once you have done one or two), and there are two ways in which you can access the tests: through the University testing centres or by obtaining your own test kits to use at home.   

Given that Wolfson is some distance from the test centres, we believe that the best approach at Wolfson is for staff to obtain their own supply and to undertake the tests at home before coming to work; however, the choice is entirely yours, and if you find it more convenient to access the University test centres, you are more than welcome to do so.  Testing yourself at home will also be more convenient and safe should you obtain a positive result, as you will not need to worry about how to return home without spreading to others.           

Obtaining tests
It is possible to order a supply of LFD tests on line at the Government website, or to collect a number of them from a pharmacy or your nearest test centre, which you will be able to find using the search tool at the Government website.You will also shortly be able to collect LFD tests from the College Lodge. 
If you prefer to book your tests via the University you can do it using the Book a Test Button on the symptom-free testing webpage. 

Who should participate?
Testing is voluntary but we strongly encourage everyone who is working on site to get tested twice a week (preferably Mondays and Thursdays before coming to work), every week until further notice, including those who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 90 days ago.   Staff on furlough who are asked to return to work, or who work remotely and come to the College once a week or less frequently should take the test when they come to work. If you are coming in on up to three consecutive days then one test on the first day would be sufficient to cover all three days. 

You should not get a LFD test if:  

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19: You should instead book a PCR test via the University’s Early Alert Service and follow the advice you are given when you receive your result (if you develop symptoms between LFD tests, you must stop taking the LFDs and have a PCR test instead).  You may also use one of the NHS testing centres or order your PCR test to be delivered to your home address. 
  • You have been asked to self-isolate by a public health official.
  • You have had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days. 

Performing the tests at home
If you choose to perform your test at home, this video will help you.

What to do if you test negative
A negative test should always be treated with caution as these test are not 100% accurate. Therefore you must still comply with all the usual safety measures, such as wearing face masks, social distancing and disinfection.

What to do if you test positive
A positive test result is more likely to be correct but again false readings do occur. If you have a positive result, you are asked to do the following:

  1. Remain in or return to your house to self-isolate for 10 days from the date on which your LFD tested positive.
  2. Report your result to the College using an online form: LFD Test_result_submission. You can also use the QR code below to access the online form. You may need to install a QR reading app.
  3.  Inform both Human Resources and your line manager of your LFD test result and isolation, and update us regularly on your situation. 
  4. Inform your manager if you have not been able to report your LFD test result via the online form. Your manager will do this on your behalf.
  5. Book a laboratory-based PCR test via the EAS (Early Alert Service) or the NHS. 
  6. If you receive a PCR test result, positive or negative, through a route other than the University Early Alert service (e.g. via the national NHS service), you must report your result by using the Report a Test button on the University’s testing webpage. Alternatively please report your result to 
  7. You will receive further advice from the NHS and the University Results Liaison Team (RLT).
  8. If you receive your positive result notification at work you should only use public transport to return home if you have no other option. You should strictly follow the safer travel guidance for passengers. Refer to the Safer travel national guidance

Any worries you have at a College level, please get in touch with

What is a household?

Our residential accommodation consists of single rooms, arranged in “sets” of, mostly, 4, 6 or 8 rooms sharing a kitchen and, in some cases, a bathroom, and flats and houses for couples and families. In line with the UK Government’s and the University’s guidance, each set of single rooms, and each individual flat or house, is regarded as a “household”. Cooperation and teamwork within households, especially with regard to cleaning, is essential to everyone’s safety. Most households will include both newcomers and longterm residents. On return or arrival, some will be required to self-isolate within their rooms, when they must avoid all contact with the other members of their household. If your household has shared bathroom facilities, those of you who are self-isolating must take especial care: when you move from your room to the bathroom, wear a facecovering and keep at least 2 metres from others; in the bathroom, clean all the surfaces that you touch before and after use. While you are self-isolating, you must not use the household kitchen.

Once all members of a household have completed their prescribed periods of selfisolation (if any), they are no longer required to maintain social-distancing within the household. Should they wish to do so, of course, individual members may maintain social distance from each other. How the members of a household interpret this should involve discussion, negotiation and decisions involving all members of the household. You should take into account that relaxing social distancing within your household will
increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. That risk will rise and fall over time according to the course of the pandemic in Oxford. The guiding principle must be that all members of a household should act in such a way as to protect the most vulnerable member. If a household cannot reach agreement, you should contact the College.

If your household decides not to maintain social distancing, this means that, while you must wear a face-covering and keep a distance of 2 metres from others outside your household, you need not do so inside your household. Other simple precautions will reduce the risk to the whole household, including: regular hand washing; frequent cleaning of surfaces that you all touch such as door handles and light switches, chairs and tables, counter-tops, fridges, microwaves and cookers; and making sure that you keep all shared spaces well-ventilated, even in winter.

Guidance suggests that the ideal maximum number of residents in a household is 8. In a very few cases, the configuration of Wolfson accommodation means that more than 8 residents are expected to share a kitchen and, for some, a bathroom. In these few cases, the Home Bursar will liaise directly with household members to discuss and agree further mitigation. 

You are currently not permitted to bring visitors or guests of any kind into College. Please continue to check the College COVID pages for updates as restrictions on visitors and guests are likely to relax in due course. 

All staff must complete the COVID-19 online course before returning to College. The course raises awareness of safety at work during the coronavirus pandemic and is applicable in any workplace. Once you complete the assessment, please forward your PDF certificate to the HR Team.

Complete the online course here.

By taking these basic steps, you can protect both your health and that of your colleagues:

  • Keep 2 meters between yourself and others
  • Use some form of face-covering when using public transport
  • Practise good hand-washing: 20 seconds with soap and warm water or hand sanitizer
  • Cough into your elbow or tissue (catch it, bin it and kill it)
  • Frequently clean high-touch surfaces and workplace items that you come into contact with (doorknobs, desks, keyboards, etc.) Disinfectant products are supplied by the Housekeeping team 
  • Avoid group meetings unless necessary, please use video chat facilities when scheduling meetings  
  • Monitor your and family members health, paying attention to the symptoms of COVID-19
  • Stay home if you or a member of your household are ill. 

You should watch for symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal. Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

Get the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus.

Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can get a free test to check if they have the virus. All staff and students with symptoms or who are instructed as a close contact should get in touch with the University's Early Advice Service, alerting the College as they do so on

  • If you are experiencing symptoms or travelling from a country that requires you to self-isolate, please notify Wolfson COVID resource team or manager (if applicable). 
  • Residents can have food delivered to their room during the self-isolation period. Hot meals are available every lunchtime from Monday to Saturday, and supplies for you to make your own breakfast and dinner, and meals on Sunday. Food should be ordered through the Wolfson Online Gateway (SSO required, please email: if you have any questions). 

The government guidance suggests that PPE is unnecessary in most office-based work environments provided that social distancing can be maintained.

  • PPE is available in the College if required, and will be made available for all staff where risk assessments suggest it might be helpful.
  • Staff can request PPE at any time through their Head of Department.
  • The PPE currently available includes face masks, gloves, goggles and aprons.
  • If you have been provided with re-usable PPE, this should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared.
  • If you have been provided with Single-use PPE, this should be disposed of after use.

Buildings entrance and exits

  • The College is open to residents and non-residents, though most categories of Fellow and existing students living offsite are recommended to stay away unless essential. Please check the latest guidance, since this is subject to change.


Safe use of sports facilities

  • The government rules are very clear that sports facilities outdoors and indoors must close, so with heavy heart all access to the gym, squash courts, tennis courts and croquet lawn will stop, as well as to the ergs both indoors and out. The music rooms will also have to be closed. 

Reducing Movement

  • Movement around the College should be minimized where possible.
  • As you move around College, you should consider the best time to do so to avoid others and the safest route to help with social distancing.
  • Routes that use the outdoors and avoid touching doors and surfaces is preferable to indoor routes.
  • To aid social distancing, arrival and departure times should be staggered. 

One-Way Systems

  • Many of the corridors and routes around College are too narrow for social distancing to be maintained (one-way systems are therefore put in place to ensure that people do not pass each other).
  • One-way systems will be marked out clearly and must be observed at all times.

Working in an open office environment

If you work in an open environment:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 2 meters plus from co-workers.
  • Have at least one workspace separating you from another co-worker.
  • Adhere to the guidance of good hygiene

Head of Departments must assess open work environments and meeting rooms and enforce measures to physically separate and increase the distance between people.

Working within occupied accommodation areas:

  • The Home Bursary will provide you with appropriate PPE for use whilst you are within residential buildings carrying out your work.
  • This would generally include a mask or face covering and suitable gloves if needed.
  • Social distance at all times and pay specific attention to tighter spaces in accommodation areas where residents may be present.
  • You should only work in areas of accommodation if residents are not in the same room; if they are, you should politely explain that your work can only be completed once they have left the room.

You should adhere to the guidance of good hygiene while in any accommodation area:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice good respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.

Working outside of College buildings:

  • Although generally regarded as a ‘safer’ working environment in respect to COVID-19, you should adhere to the guidance of good hygiene and social distancing at all times.
  • The College accepts that lengthy periods of working remotely from home, being on a furlough break or the whole current situation may have been and still be difficult for you to come to terms with.
  • It is important for you to talk with your line manager, HR, or the other support services available at the College should you feel the need to.
  • If you have concerns about your mental health or the mental health of someone you are close to, click here for a list of resources you might find helpful to contact.

Questions or Concerns?

  • 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 COVID resource team at
  • You may report a concern about compliance with COVID-19 health and safety policies or guidance directly to the Lodge or the Home Bursars Office