Living at Wolfson

The UK is now in national lockdown. Find out what this means for Wolfson below.

Last updated 25 January 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. 

Click here to read more about the services we offer.

Third Lockdown

Wolfson will stay open, as we did during the deepest lockdown last year. We are a home to many, especially those of us who are international. The Academic Office will continue to support all students, in Oxford and elsewhere, in college and offsite. Our kitchen will continue to provide hot food for those at Wolfson to take away. Our library will remain open. 

The government rules are clear that we should all "minimise the amount of time spent outside your home." We encourage all students and Fellows who are in Oxford but do not live in College to stay at home. Emeritus, Supernumerary and Honorary Fellows, and Members of Common Room, are not able to come in to College other than to pick up post and, if you live locally, to continue walking in the Bishop's Garden. All other Fellows and Students living outside College should only come in if you have a compelling academic reason to do so; you must not visit other households in College. We'll keep this under review, and may need to be even stricter. The bottom line is that the virus is much more contagious now than before, and life at College will and should feel even more constrained.

Guide to Life at Wolfson

  • 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. 

If you are a Wolfson student who has not yet returned to Oxford, and is trying to decide what to do next, we will let you know the University decision on that just as soon as possible. The senior "Silver" Committee meets on 5 January and will communicate as soon as possible.

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:

New term: Lateral Flow Tests

From 4th January Oxford will be offering Lateral Flow Tests for COVID to all students returning to the University. This note sets out how this will work at Wolfson. It should be very similar to the way we ran the tests at the end of Michaelmas Term, which proved quite simple for all involved.

This testing regime is for those returning to Oxford only; if you have stayed here throughout the vacation there’s no need to participate. This time it is for all students, whether for Masters or Doctorates. And while the testing is recommended, it is not compulsory. 

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.

Those wanting to participate should go to the College Lodge as soon as you arrive back, starting on Monday 4th January. You will be given three lateral flow devices. You should watch the training module on Canvas. You should self-administer the first test that day; then the second test three days later; and a final third test on your tenth day in Oxford. 

As before, if any of the three tests indicate a positive result you should immediately book yourself into the  University Early Advice Service for a full PCR test at one of their two sites in the University, which should give you a very reliable result within 24 hours. If the first two tests are negative, you will be clear to go into your department, lab or library after the second test (so the third day after you arrive); the third one after ten days is medically recommended as an added layer of assurance.

Please do record the results of each test as soon as they are visible. Do this via the result reporting section of the Early Alert Service. This will help the University and the NHS to understand how the virus is spreading across the community.

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. The main reason we did not offer Lateral Flow Tests right up to today was that very requirement – any positive test result would have forced whole households to stay self-isolated in Oxford over Christmas.

Remember, this system starts on 4th January. The Early Advice Service closes for the Christmas fortnight from Tuesday 22nd December, so if you need a test during that period, book an NHS test here. And though Wolfson will be operating on a low-maintenance basis, will still be monitored so we can support anyone who tests positive over the vacation period.

How do I access the Government's 'Test to Release' scheme?

The University cannot provide tests to allow you to leave self-isolation early after international travel under the Government's 'Test to Release' scheme. You will need to contact and make arrangements with a private provider directly. You should follow the directions on the .gov website here, which also includes a list of eligible private providers. Please note that we understand that demand for these services is high, and you may want to contact a provider ahead of time and book early if you wish to take advantage of this scheme.

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 the Student Information Sheet - LFDs at the start of Hilary Term (PDF)

Click here for Lateral Flow Test Instructions Pamphlet (PDF)

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). 

This 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.

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

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

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