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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.

Cambridge is now under the national lockdown rules introduced in England

What this means for people in Cambridge

  • You must not leave or be outside your home except where necessary.
  • You may only leave the home for a limited number of reasons - including shopping for necessities, going to work (if you cannot do so from home), seeking medical assistance, or avoiding domestic abuse.
  • If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.
  • You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with.
  • You may exercise outdoors on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once a day, and you should stay in your local area.
  • You should stay two metres apart from anyone not in your household, 
  • Some support groups can continue with up to 15 participants - but they must not take place in a private home.
  • The police can fine you up to £10,000 for taking part in illegal gatherings.

National lockdown guidance

Coronavirus updates January 2020 

Covid-19 asymptomatic testing and symptomatic testing

The asymptomatic testing regime will restart during the week of 18 January. The swab day will be on Tuesdays for students in College accommodation, students who are resident in private accommodation will also be eligible to participate in the programme, and will be screened every Monday. More information will be circulated in due course.

Symptomatic testing is continuing for any student or staff member with Covid-19 symptoms.

Further information on Covid-19 testing in Cambridge

Student rent

Colleges will not charge students who are not able to return to Cambridge as a result of the current government legislation and guidance. 

Students who are not able to return to Cambridge as a result of the current government lockdown legislation and guidance will not be charged rent. This is with effect from 1 January 2021, until further notice. Rent bills for those in residence will now be issued on Friday 22 January and the payment deadline is Friday 12 February.

Visitor policy and social bubbles

The visitor policy has been updated to reflect that all Colleges have agreed that social bubbles formed by single students must be within their own College. No cross-College student bubbles are permitted. 

Read the updated visitor policy

Face coverings – updated policy

Face coverings are now required at all times in all indoor work or study settings on the main College site, even if two-metre social distancing can be achieved. The only exceptions are for people working in single occupancy rooms with closed doors, when eating or drinking, or for people who are exempt. Face coverings should be carried at all times. 

This requirement does not apply on the Paddock, in the Fellows’ Garden, Scholars’ Garden, or on the Playing Fields.


The Library is now closed until further notice, although a number of other services are still available including click and collect for on-site students, and essential printing for academic purposes. The Library closure will be reviewed the week commencing 25 January.

Read the updated Library FAQs for further information


The Chapel will remain open seven days a week during working hours for private prayer. Chapel services will be delivered online from Tuesday 19 January, full details will be on the Chapel section of the website soon. No in-person services will be held until the asymptomatic testing programme is running and this decision will be reviewed the week commencing 25 January.


A takeaway service will continue to be available from the Buttery and hot drinks are being served as takeaways from the bar between 10am and 6pm every day.

Staff working on-site who do not have an alternative space to eat in, can dine in Hall between 11.30am-1.30pm – seating has been arranged to at 2.5m distance. Everyone else must take their food away to eat elsewhere.

The Buttery is open from 11.30am-1.30pm and from 5.30pm-6.30pm.

The Bar is open from 10am-6pm.

A grocery click and collect service is still available on Upay.


Until further notice, housekeeping services have been suspended in student and Fellows’ accommodation. Households have had their cleaning supplies topped up and further cleaning supplies will be made available in Forecourt Porters’ Lodge for collection. Please do cooperate within your households to keep communal areas clean and hygienic during this period.   

Sports field

The sports ground is closed for team sports – including the astro pitch and hard courts. The playing fields can be used to exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person.   

The Boathouse

In line with government regulations, the College Boathouse is now closed.


Maintenance services are continuing. Urgent requests will be prioritised and non-urgent tasks may be delayed until the situation improves.


The team of Porters will continue to work as they have throughout the pandemic. The Forecourt Lodge entrance and the Cripps entrance will continue to be open and staffed.

Covid-19 helpdesk

The College’s Covid-19 helpdesk deals with all policy and guidance questions relating to the College’s response to Covid-19. It is staffed between 8am and 5pm seven days a week. Do get in touch if you have any questions.

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

Covid-19 Student Guidelines

The Covid-19 Student Guidelines should be referred to regularly by undergraduates and postgraduates for the latest rules and guidance for life at St John’s College during the pandemic.

They are intended to be used in parallel with The Student Handbook which is an important and comprehensive source of information for our student community. The rules in the Student Handbook may sometimes depart from the Covid-19 Student Guidelines in various ways throughout the year, sometimes for short periods of time and sometimes at short notice.

Anyone who is in any doubt about the rules and principles that govern College life during the 2020/21 academic year should contact their Tutor, Student Services, the Lead Clinical Nurse or the Porters.

Self-isolation 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 10 day 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

Symptom/contact reporting form

The College Covid-19 Symptom/Contact Reporting Form below is for students, 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/Contact Reporting Form - Students and Residential Fellows

Covid-19 Symptom/Contact Reporting Form - Non-Residential Fellows and Academic Affiliates

Covid-19 Symptom/Contact Reporting Form - Staff

Test and Trace

St John’s College has a dedicated Test and Trace system in place to ensure that households and the contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19 or are symptomatic swiftly receive the appropriate advice and support.

Anyone using the College Bar or Hall will be asked to scan our QR code on entry which will take them to our Test and Trace form so we can act quickly if a case is identified and stop the spread of Covid-19.

NHS advice for those sharing a household with someone who has Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19 is simple: self-isolate and follow the guidance. If you are a contact of someone who has contracted Covid-19, you only need to self-isolate if you have been informed by NHS Test & Trace to do so.  A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 anytime from two days before the person was symptomatic up to 10 days from onset of symptoms. However, because the College community is one in which infection can travel swiftly we have implemented our own contact tracing within the College which complements the NHS system but will allow St John’s to act very quickly if a case is identified.

Read our full Test and Trace guidance (download)

Asymptomatic testing

All undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge living in College accommodation are being offered a weekly test for infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, even if they show no symptoms.

This testing programme is the best chance the University has of keeping Cambridge as open as possible – it is vitally important that as many of you as possible take part.

Additional start-of-term individual tests

In addition to the pooled screening programme, we will also be able to offer individual tests in the week commencing 11 January (Mon-Fri) for students who are BOTH returning to Cambridge after the Christmas vacation AND belong to one of the following groups:

  •  Students who are not eligible to participate in the pooled screening programme e.g. some students in private accommodation.


  •  Students returning to Cambridge more than 3 days before their first day of pooled screening i.e. most students returning to Cambridge before the weekend of 16-17 January.

Because of constraints on testing capacity, some students may need to compromise on the day they take their test, to ensure that the system works for everyone.
Your College will be responsible for distributing test kits and managing the number of tests conducted each day, and will therefore be in touch with further information before the start of term.

Asymptomatic testing for St John's students

Students at St John’s will be tested on Tuesdays and should receive the results by the following morning.

The test will be self administered, using a swab to take a sample from the nose and throat. Because a limited number of tests are available, samples from several students will be tested together in pools by household.

All students in College accommodation have now all be contacted and told which household you are in, and informed of the randomly selected pooling lead who is responsible for collecting the testing kit from their pigeon hole from 6pm on Sunday, facilitating the completion of the tests by the pool, and then returning the completed tests to the red boxes in the Great Gate, Cripps or Forecourt Porters’ Lodges by 11am on Tuesday.

St John’s students who are resident in private accommodation will also be eligible to participate in the asymptomatic programme, and will be screened every Monday.

For those who screen positive

The system for individual confirmatory tests has changed.

If you contribute a swab to a positive pooled screening test, you will continue to receive a text message notifying you of the result the following morning.

You will no longer be sent an appointment at the University testing pod. Instead you will carry out the individual confirmatory test in your own room.

The College has been supplied with individual test kits (supplied in white envelopes).  NOTE: These are not interchangeable with pooled screening test kits (supplied in brown envelopes).

Receiving and returning the Test Kit

  • If you are in a pool that have screened positive and are required to have a confirmatory test, the test kit will be delivered by the porters. The Help Desk will telephone you to inform you that a test is on its way.
  • If you live outside of College, you will take the test while the porter waits outside. The completed test will be collected by the porter
  • If you live inside College, you will be informed that a test kit will be left outside your door/staircase door. This time you have to complete the confirmatory test by 1pm and leave it outside your door/staircase door for collection by the porters.
  • The porters will be responsible for depositing all completed confirmatory tests in the drop box ready for collection by 1:30pm.

Taking the Test

Follow the protocol, which explains exactly how to take your swab. The process is slightly different from pooled screening, so please be sure to read this information carefully.

Use the camera app on your mobile phone to scan the QR code on the test kit envelope (or type in the website URL immediately below it). This will allow the programme to assign you the right test kit – otherwise, they won’t know who has taken the swab!

After double-bagging the sample, follow the instructions above to ensure the sample is collected Samples will be collected from the College and taken to the test facility only once a day, so it’s important not to be late.

Instead of a telephone call or MyChart message from Cambridge University Hospitals, you will receive the result of your individual confirmatory test the following morning by text message (similar to the pooled screening tests). St John’s will also be informed of the result.

If you do not receive your result, please therefore check with the College Covid Helpdesk in the first instance. The helpdesk can be contacted via email: The helpdesk can be contacted via email:

This might occur, for example, if there was a “typo” in the mobile phone number you supplied to the programme when you consented to take part.  Please also let the Covid Helpdesk know if you have any questions. Alternatively, you can email the Asymptomatic Covid-19 Screening Programme directly at

Finally, please note that these changes are only relevant for students contributing swabs to positive pooled screening tests – the pooled screening tests themselves will continue unchanged. Likewise, if you have symptoms of possible Covid-19, you should still book a test at the University testing pod using the link on the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni website.

For those wishing to participate in the testing programme you must, if you haven’t already, complete the consent form provided by the University.

You should have already received this and further information directly and more detail is available on the University's website.

Anyone who has any questions specific to the testing process at St John’s should email:

A comprehensive Q&A guide to the University's testing programme 

Asymptomatic testing

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 in the FAQs 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.

College policy on face coverings is kept under regular review by the College’s Covid Silver group in line with the public health advice, our experience within College, and approaches across the University.

Face coverings policy FAQs

Visitor policy

During the Covid-19 pandemic the College remains closed to members of the public, College and University alumni and all those who do not have specific business here.  

The policy focuses on members of the College community and on visitors. ‘Members of the College community’ in this policy means: current Fellows; current staff including College Teaching Associates; current students, including those resident in College hostels or furnished lets; and widows and widowers of former Fellows. 

Anyone not falling within this definition, such as alumni, former Fellows, former staff, the family and friends of Fellows, residents or staff, is considered a visitor for the purpose of this policy.  Any visitor with specific business in the College are asked to check in on arrival at the Porters’ Lodge.

The College will do everything that is reasonable and proportionate to keep people safe.  We require members of the College community and any permitted visitors to comply with government policy to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.  

Read the full policy

Food and drink

Takeaway food from the BDR, Order Ahead, and using the College Bar

The Buttery is open for breakfast on Wednesdays only between 8am and 10am, daily for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm, and again for dinner from 5.30pm to 8pm, currently for takeaway meals only. Staff and Fellows are encouraged to collect lunch between 11.30am and 12.30pm, and dinner between 5.30 and 6pm if possible. Saturday brunch will be served from 12.30pm-2.30pm every week. Advance booking is no longer required; existing bookings will be honoured but it is not necessary to arrive at that time. If you have booked a slot when the BDR is due to be closed, you will be contacted by the Catering team. Entry to the BDR is from K staircase 2nd Court and the exit is via the BDR Patio.

The Order Ahead service from the College Bar will continue as usual - see below.

The Hall is available to sit down to eat in once you have your takeaway food from the Buttery Dining Room. You will need to scan a test and trace QR code to go into the Hall. The staff inside the Hall will direct you where to sit; please follow their instructions. These areas will be cleaned before anyone else can sit in that seat/ area.

There are two sanitising stations outside the Buttery Dining Room as you make your way in, and it is recommended that all members of the College use them before entering the Buttery Dining Room. There are also sanitiser stations set up in the College Bar and Hall. 

Face coverings must be worn at all times whilst in the BDR when collecting food and until you are seated in the Hall.

Order Ahead

The College Bar will operate as a grocery shop and will be open from 10am to 6pm. It is possible to use the Order Ahead system via Upay to buy groceries or you can pop in during opening hours. It is also possible to use Order Ahead service for a cold lunch and dinner and collect from the College Bar during these times. The entrance is via K staircase. See the Buttery page for full details and learn how to open a Upay account to use this service. 

The College Bar

The Bar will be open as a space for study but it can no longer serve alcoholic beverages. Table bookings are not required; it will be on a first come, first served basis, but tables are only available for people in households, with your support bubble, or as single use.

Tea, coffee, non-alcoholic drinks, pastries, and homemade cakes will be available to purchase from the Bar from 10am to 10pm Monday-Sunday (subject to change) and can also be taken away to eat/drink in the marquee in Second Court.

​​​​Bar Floor plan 

Bar service/payment procedure

Health and wellbeing

Health & Wellbeing Centre

The Health Centre Team are pleased to be providing ongoing support to students who are both in Cambridge or away-via email, telephone or video consultations

Remote appointments are bookable via Moodle.

Emma Manuel, Lead Clinical Nurse / Head of Health can be contacted via 

Karen Miles, Health & Wellbeing Nurse can be contacted via

Health& can be used to reach either Nurse. 

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. Further information regarding Health & Wellbeing is available on this site using the above drop down options. 

Mental health crisis support services

Counselling support

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

Susie is available during term-time and is currently on her Christmas break. She returns to work on Monday 11 January.

To find out more or to book 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. A room in College is available to book for your appointment, if needed. 

Pastoral support

The College Chapel is open for private prayer and reflection from 9am until 5pm every day for resident members of College and staff. For the purposes of the College’s Covid-19 guidelines, current members of the College are considered to be current Fellows; current staff including College Teaching Associates; current students, including those resident in College hostels or furnished lets; and widows and widowers of former Fellows. Anyone not falling within this definition, such as alumni, former Fellows, former staff, the family and friends of Fellows, residents or staff, is considered a visitor for the purposes of the current guidelines. The rules around who can access Chapel services will be regularly reviewed.  

Entry and exit is via the Chapel Court doors.

The Rev'd Andrew Hammond, can be contacted at and on 07917 535940. Canon Mark Oakley, the Dean of Chapel, 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