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Please note: all information in these statements was correct at the time of publication - we will update this based on advice from Public Health England and University guidance found here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/coronavirus-advice
Additional questions related to COVID19 may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You will only receive a reply from the covid19 email address between Mon-Fri 09:00 to 14:00. If your message is very urgent, you should call the Duty Phone.
Given that the situation is evolving rapidly, staff and students are asked to continue to visit and regularly check the following websites for the latest updates and guidance:
- the University's FAQs page for students and staff http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/coronavirus-advice
- the Public Health England website and Twitter page
- NHS advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
For travel advice:
Q: What is the current Government advice regarding staying in College accommodation?
In recent weeks the Government has been advising universities to send students home where possible, and close university facilities including halls of residence. On the 27 March, Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities wrote to us recognising that many categories of student cannot return home and are now stranded at university. The advice that we have received is as follows:
The Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If they are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, they should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force. As the Prime Minister said, staying put and remaining indoors are now crucial to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, and save the lives of fellow citizens.
What is the current guidance concerning social distancing and COVID19?
The College’s policy on social distancing combines advice from the University’s Chief Medical Officer and the Government. In this context “public space” is defined as space to which more than five people, who are not part of a family group, have free access. Government regulation of public space therefore applies to all College facilities and accommodation.
The Government guidance on social distancing during the COVID19 emergency is clear. We should stay in our accommodation and stay away from others. This includes stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.
From now until further notice, the College requires all students living in accommodation to avoid groups of more than two whilst using shared indoor facilities. A distance of 2 metres must be maintained when using all shared facilities, including those outside, such as gardens. If maintaining such a distance is not possible, students should organise themselves to take turns in using shared facilities.
You must not have any guests in your accommodation at any time until further notice. There are no exceptions.
We do not have the capacity or any wish to police this policy. We rely on you to apply it with good sense. We are hoping to be able to depend on the responsible community values of Linacre and maintain this policy voluntarily. Please remember that current national restrictions are having a very severe impact on the UK population. Please be considerate and public spirited at this difficult time.
Q: What is the College position regarding accommodation charges?
College are receiving a number of requests for information regarding accommodation refunds and charges. We understand the difficulties caused to all our students but the situation is still too uncertain to give any firm commitments. The rent due on your accommodation for the period up to the end of the licence agreement remains due but is under discussion both in and outside the College. We shall communicate further on this in due course. We are currently waiting for government guidance and decisions about residence in Trinity Term. The situation will be monitored closely and communicated to students as soon as possible. For those in private rented accommodation, the University and Colleges have no control over the arrangements, and students are likely to still be liable for the rest of the year to their landlords. Oxford SU provides signposting for advice on its website or by email at email@example.com.
We appreciate that many of you may be facing unexpected extra costs – especially for accommodation. Governing Body has made a substantial grant to the Linacre House Trust to meet an increase in hardship cases. If you are in financial distress or anticipate that you may be facing a significant shortfall in the future please get in touch with the Senior Tutor.
Q: What should I do about my visa?
On 24 March, the Home Office updated their visa guidance to provide greater certainty for international higher education students and staff in the UK currently unable to return home due to COVID-19. This covers three main issues: visa extensions, in-country visa switching and distance learning.
No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to expire, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future. Anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation will have their visas extended to 31 May 2020.
Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation – please see contact details further down.
In-country visa switching
Individuals (students or staff) who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self- isolation and wish to stay in the UK in the long-term would ordinarily need to apply for a visa from their home country. Where individuals would normally be required to returnto their country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, they’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students inthe UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.
Further information from the Home Office
Full details covering the visa issues above can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents The Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open: 0800 678 1767 (open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – calls are free of charge if made from within the UK). The Home Office asks that customers check gov.uk first as that is the central source of information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.
Q: What is the current guidance concerning self-isolation and COVID19?
- for most people who contract the Coronavirus, it will be a mild infection
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (new continuous cough and/or high temperature), however mild, you must stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
- if you live with others and you are the first person in the your localised household area (i.e. the corridor or flat where you are sharing bathrooms, kitchens and other spaces) to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
- for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.
- it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- In day to day life you must act to 'socially distance' yourself as far as possible, in line with government guidance, even if you are not self isolating
- There is much more detailed guidance available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home – let College know by emailing the Senior Tutor: firstname.lastname@example.org
- do not leave even for shopping – try to organise for other friends / people elsewhere in the house / accommodation, if possible, to shop and deliver to the outside of flats / rooms
- stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home, if possible
- sleep alone, if possible
- wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
- do not separate out rubbish for recycling: double bag it securely, retain it for at least 72 hours and take it to an external bin, if possible without being in contact with others
- you do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Q: How do I self-isolate and what if I am sharing a space?
If you are, or if anyone in your house is self-isolating, you should organise yourselves to avoid contact in the shared facilities as much as you can and clean any shared surfaces you use each time you use them and dispose of the paper towels you use in a bag that you can then close. You should use separate sets of cutlery / mugs / glasses, too. There is much more detailed guidance available here about self-isolation and shared spaces: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
Q: Where can I find support for my mental health?
The following websites provide a range of online resources and advice for managing your mental health during this challenging time:
- The Government has issued the following advice and list of resources
- Mind – advice for everyone from the charity Mind, which focusses on how to cope with self-isolation/staying at home
- Student Minds – a range of resources for people with existing health conditions, and who are struggling with social distancing, or have experienced xenophobia
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention – advice around managing anxiety and stress
- The Mental Health Foundation
- BBC advice on protecting your mental health
- World Health Organisation – mental health considerations and coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak
- NHS advice on self-isolation and dealing with stress, anxiety or depression
- NHS mental health apps – the majority of which are free
- COVID-19 and Anxiety – advice from the charity Anxiety UK
- COVID-19 and OCD – advice from the charity OCD-UK
- Eating Disorders and Coronavirus – advice from Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity
Activities and Distractions:
- Podcasts are available on the University website, the BBC, and many other outlets
- Free audiobooks are available on the BBC or elsewhere online
- See if your local library has an app that allows you to borrow eBooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free
- Take a Virtual Tour around one of these museums
- Enjoy free streams from world-class opera houses that are being shared in response to the outbreak – have a look at the Metropolitan Opera and Paris Opera websites
- Get outside and enjoy some fresh air – go for a walk or take the opportunity to try out running with the NHS Couch to 5k app
- Try out some free online yoga
- Learn How to make a home gym from household items while self-isolating
Q: Will my forthcoming Degree Ceremony be cancelled?
The decision has been taken to cancel Degree Ceremonies that were to be held on 2 May and 9 May 2020. We will be working with the Vice Chancellor's Office to identify alternative arrangements and will update you in the next few months. Unless advised otherwise, all other Degree Ceremonies will continue as planned, but the situation is under constant review. We will let you know of any changes to the plan as soon as possible.
Q: My teaching, research and / or fieldwork has been disrupted. What can I do?
If you are on a taught course, you will receive directions and regular updates from your department. If you need to apply for extensions for assignments you should do so through College.
It you are a research student and your research or fieldwork is being impacted, you will have a number of options. You can talk to both your Supervisor and College Senior Tutor to work out which is the best way forward for you.
Q: The ongoing situation is impacting me financially, where can I seek support?
Please contact the Senior Tutor via email and she will direct you to relevant sources of support.