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Coronavirus information

Coronavirus updates

St John's College is closely monitoring the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. As the situation continues to change rapidly, our top priority remains the health, safety, and wellbeing of our entire community, in and outside of Cambridge.

Current students – Guidance for the new term

The importance of our community working together to mitigate risk of Covid-19 continues to be our focus as we look towards welcoming all current students back to College for the Michaelmas Term. 

Fresh guidance has been issued to give you some idea of what to expect, so please do take the time to read and digest it carefully.

Hand washing and sanitising

Additional hand sanitiser stations have been installed across the College. Please follow these steps regarding hand washing or the use of hand sanitiser when hand washing cannot be performed.

Statement on student accommodation in the case of a second lockdown

In the case of a second or local lockdown, the University and the Colleges will, as ever, be guided by the advice of PHE and the country's legislation. Within these limits, Colleges are committed to provide accommodation to all students, on a case‐by‐case basis, who do not have any other home to go to, for example care‐leavers, estranged students, and UK or international students who cannot travel to their own home town/country due to local travel restrictions.

Outdoor recreational visits to College

Outdoor recreational visits to College are now permitted for Fellows, staff, and resident students, including those living in College hostels or furnished lets. Unfortunately we remain closed to members of the public, St John’s alumni and University alumni.

College members may bring members of their own household in for outdoor recreational visits and Fellows can now host guests in the Fellows’ garden. Gatherings of more than six people who are not part of the same household are not permitted, and all visitors must comply with government and College rules to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19. See the FAQs for more information.

Library update

The Working Library is currently open during staffed hours (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), giving access to Ground Floor facilities (printers/photocopiers and self-issue machine). Study space on the Mezzanine Floor is also available to junior members and Fellows via an online pre-booking system.

You can find out more about the booking system and other available Library facilities on the Library FAQs.


As well as offering Covid-19 tests to staff, students and Fellows, the University is expanding its testing programme to include members of your household (in other words, anyone with whom you share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen). See the FAQs for full details.


View the weekly College Bulletins for the latest updates at St John’s.

Self isolating and quarantine

You must self isolate for 10 days if you develop a new continuous cough and or a fever (greater than 37.8C). and you must complete our online form. We will then provide specific advice for your individual circumstance. Please also consult the Government advice.

If you have symptoms you should immediately: 

  • Do not visit the Health & Wellbeing Centre in person, contact the Lead Clinical Nurse via the reporting form below.

Complete all of the applicable sections of the relevant reporting form below with as much information as possible. 

Please note, information may be shared if it is felt appropriate but it will be handled sensitively and proportionately. We are collecting this data to track the coronavirus risk to the College members and we will keep the data for 12 months or until it is no longer needed.

International students

In common with other Colleges, St John’s is closely following the guidelines relating to Covid-19 set out by the University of Cambridge.

View the St John’s College arrangements for quarantine in College accommodation

View the latest University-wide advice, including the new Stay Safe Cambridge Uni campaign section. 

Food and care for quarantining students

In the event of international students having to observe a two-week government-mandated quarantine period upon arrival to the UK, the College is committed to ensuring all quarantining students are provided for, and will look to ensure all students have an individual isolation supporter to collect food/groceries on their behalf.

The College will provide meals and access to basic groceries from a ‘shop’ style set up in College which will be available via click and collect. This will also provide basic toiletries/washing powder etc. Students would be charged as per normal for these facilities via Upay.

A network of individuals nominating self-isolation supporters is being planned in liaison with the SBR/JCR to build on their existing buddy system/College parents respectively for Freshers.

Key information for students supporting those in self isolation/quarantine

Student guide on ordering food and provisions whilst in self-isolation

Covid-19 symptom reporting form

The College Covid-19 Symptom Reporting Form below is for students, residential Fellows and staff to notify the Lead Clinical Nurse, the Senior Tutor, and the duty Porters that you have: 

  • returned from a coronavirus affected area and would like to notify the College
  • symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough)
  • been in contact with someone who has coronavirus symptoms or is suspected to have coronavirus
  • You are in a high-risk group and have decided to self-isolate on medical grounds


Covid-19 Symptom Reporting Form - Students and Residential Fellows

Covid-19 Symptom Reporting Form - Staff

Face coverings

Face coverings policy

Face coverings should be worn in all parts of the College, whether inside College buildings or moving around the College site. This applies to all members of St John’s College and to visitors to the College unless you have an exemption. This requirement is in line with University policy.  

There are circumstances where face coverings do not need to be worn and more details are below. However, if you are in doubt – wear a face covering until you have confirmed that one isn’t required.

Every member of St John’s has been/will be provided with two free washable cotton face coverings and we encourage the use of this kind of mask or disposable surgical masks rather than knitted materials/scarves/bandanas which may not be as effective. The free face coverings will be placed in student rooms ready for the start of term.

Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing or other measures to mitigate Covid-19, such as being tested when displaying symptoms, self-isolating when unwell or advised to, enhanced cleaning regimes, and regular hand-washing. These primary mitigation measures should always be followed in addition to wearing a face covering when required.

There is increasing evidence that wearing face coverings can reduce transmission of coronavirus from an infected person to others. The wearing of face coverings is to be considered a social responsibility for those members of the College who can wear them, with the aim of providing increased reassurance to all members, including those most vulnerable to serious illness.

Exemptions for individuals and exceptions for particular settings are set out below. The policy will be kept under regular review by the College’s Covid Silver group.

Why is the College asking people to wear face coverings?

The introduction of the face covering policy is informed by advice from senior clinicians and public health experts at the University. There is increasing evidence that wearing face coverings can reduce transmission of coronavirus from an infected person to others because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of virus that causes coronavirus infection.

The wearing of face coverings is to be considered a social responsibility for members of the collegiate University who can wear them, with the aim of reducing risk and providing increased reassurance to all, including those most vulnerable to serious illness.

Face coverings are not a substitute for hygiene and safety measures such as being tested when displaying symptoms, self-isolating when unwell or advised to, social distancing, enhanced cleaning regimes, and regular hand-washing, and these primary mitigation measures should always be followed.

Who does the policy apply to?

The policy applies to all Fellows, staff, students, visitors, contractors, and members of the public across all College buildings, except those who are exempt from wearing face coverings.

What are the exemptions?

In line with the exemptions that apply in public spaces such as on public transport and in shops, the requirement to wear face coverings in College buildings and when moving around St John’s will not apply to those who have a legitimate reason.

Exemptions include:

  • not being able to put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing, or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
  • where interacting with someone who uses lip reading to communicate, or who has social communication impairments
  • children aged under 11 years

Do I need to provide evidence that I am exempt from wearing a face covering?

There is no requirement to provide evidence that you have a legitimate reason not to wear a face covering, or that you may require others to briefly remove theirs so that you can understand them (eg to lip read).

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering and the government has provided printable resources for people who prefer to have something to show people. This is a personal choice and it is not required.

It is not appropriate to challenge someone who is not wearing a face covering. It should be assumed that there is a legitimate reason why they cannot.

Where will I be required to wear a face covering?

You will be required to wear a face covering in all College buildings and when moving around the site.

This includes:

  • In the Courts
  • In stairwells
  • In the Buttery
  • In the College Library, including while seated at desks
  • In the Porters’ Lodges
  • In the Mail Rooms
  • In the Chapel
  • In your room/office if other people - such as members of the Housekeeping or Maintenance teams - are present 
  • In communal areas of College rooms, Hostels, offices and buildings if you are not solely with your household 
  • In public rooms unless the chair of the meeting indicates that they can be removed
  • When people from separate households are in the same room unless social distancing of two metres can be observed.
Are there any exceptions where face coverings are not required?

There are circumstances where face coverings do not need to be worn. However, if you are in doubt – wear a face covering until you have confirmed that one isn’t required.

This includes:

  • When you are in your household
  • During supervisions if social distancing is maintained, you will not be required to wear a face covering unless you are asked to by the academic leading the supervision or by anyone else in the supervision
  • In meetings if social distancing is maintained and the chair of the meeting indicates that face coverings can be removed. If any attendee wishes for face coverings to be worn, then all attendees should comply unless exempt.
  • In offices/rooms where social distancing of two metres is maintained
  • By staff working in settings with protective screens in place
  • When eating or drinking provided that social distancing is maintained
  • On The Paddocks
  • In the Fellows’ garden
  • In the Scholars’ garden
  • On the Playing Fields

What should I do if I am concerned that someone is not wearing a face covering?

Signage informing and reminding people of the requirement to wear face coverings will be displayed prominently around the College. It is important to remember that some people will have legitimate reasons why they are not able to wear a face covering. Some of these reasons may be hidden and people should not be asked if they have an exemption, or the reasons for it.

Reminders will be circulated about the policy, particularly if there are concerns about compliance.

How long will this policy be in place for?

It is not yet known how long St John’s and the wider collegiate University will require face coverings to be worn, but all policies will be reviewed regularly by the Covid Silver Group which currently meets on a weekly basis.

Food and drink

Order Ahead and Takeaway food from the BDR

The Buttery is now offering an Order Ahead service, where members of the College can place a cold food order in advance and collect items the next day from the College Bar. To order ahead, everyone will need to set up a Upay account where they can select their items in advance and book time slots for collection.

The Buttery is now also open for takeaway breakfast, lunch and dinner. College members will need to book a slot via Upay the day before to collect their lunch and dinner at certain times. It is not necessary to book for breakfast or to collect lunch between 11.30am and 12.30pm, and staff are encouraged to use this collection slot.

See the Buttery page for full information and to learn how to open a Upay account.

Health and wellbeing

Health Centre

The Lead Clinical Nurse remains committed to providing extra support to students who are both in Cambridge and away-via email and telephone, with video consultations an option to students in the UK only. 

Emma Manuel can be contacted via 

Please note that a response will be given in order of priority so please state the nature of your enquiry and mark your email has high priority if you require an urgent response.

Mental health crisis support services

Counselling support

Our College Counsellor, Susie Renshaw, is available from the start of September. Susie is currently offering appointments via phone or video call on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Appointments usually last between 30-50 minutes. 

To find out more or to book in an appointment please email Susie at: or call 07593 139172.

At the time of your appointment, please ensure you are in a confidential, quiet space to take the call.

Pastoral support

The College Chapel is open for private prayer and reflection from 10am-5pm every day for members of College and their guests. Entry and exit is via the Chapel Court doors. Seating has been designated to allow for social distancing, and hand sanitiser is available on entry. Regular and ongoing cleaning will continue in the Chapel.

The Chaplain, The Rev'd Andrew Hammond, is in Cambridge for the foreseeable future so please get in touch with him if you would like to talk, including those who are now at home or otherwise away from Cambridge.

The Chaplain can be contacted at and on 07917 535940. Canon Mark Oakley, the Dean of Chapel, is also available of course, and can be contacted on

Online teaching & learning

The following resources have been gathered to help academics navigate the challenges of the 2020/21 academic year, and to assist those who are working with digital collaborative tools such as Zoom and Teams.

Online teaching and learning resources