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Covid-19 FAQs for Fellows

Coronavirus FAQs for Fellows

University information on Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Please refer to the University webpages for up to date information and UK Government links relating to health, travel, visa and immigration matters, and staff working arrangements. They also contain important University statements on arrangements for teaching and learning, assessment, and research in Easter Term 2020. These webpages also include a growing set of helpful FAQs.

These pages represent the central definitive resource for University information on Covid-19 – please check it frequently.

College information on Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Exams and assessment

What will happen about student exams and assessments?

The University has released detailed guidance for exams and assessment, teaching and learning, admissions and finance. Individual faculties and departments will also issue specific guidance. 


How is the College coordinating the response to Covid-19?

Overall strategy for our response to the pandemic is determined by a Covid Gold group, consisting of the College Council and Chaired by the Master. Implementation of that strategy is led by a Covid Silver group, chaired by the Domestic Bursar, which features a representative from all College departments and meets weekly. The Silver group's primary task is to discuss and plan the College's operational response to maintain the health and safety of students, staff, Fellows and visitors.

This structure has taken over from the initial Covid Committee which met daily on weekdays at the start of the lockdown period. It was chaired by Prof Ernest Laue, and included the Vice-Master, President, Lead Clinical Nurse, Senior Porter, Domestic Bursar, Head of Communications, Head of HR, Prof Miska (Tutor), and Prof Jiggins (Council).



I am a residential Fellow, can I continue to occupy my room?

Residential Fellows can remain in residence, there is no scenario where residential Fellows would be asked to vacate their rooms

I am a non-residential Fellow, can I continue to use my room?

Yes, but please follow social distancing, hand washing guidance, and all other College rules.

Can I bring guests into College? 

A comprehensive new visitor policy for St John’s has now been published which covers the rules for Fellows, students, and staff.

All of our policies are currently subject to change at any time and it is imperative that you familiarise yourself with this and other policies as the number of people onsite continues to grow ahead of the new term.

College provision and wellbeing

Should I wear a face covering in College?

Face coverings should be worn in all parts of the College, whether inside College buildings or moving around the College site, and this includes the Buttery, the Library, the Chapel, in corridors, stairwells, and courts. This applies to all members of St John’s College and to visitors to the College unless you have an exemption.

Face coverings provide protection for other people where it is not possible to maintain appropriate social distancing. Two washable face coverings are available for all students, and each mask comes in a resealable plastic bag and includes fitting and washing instructions. You may wish to supplement this supply with your own face coverings.

Guidance on how to wear a face covering

View the Face Coverings Policy

What facilities are open?

The Fitness Centre is open every day from 6am until 10pm. All sessions must be booked in advance and can be booked up to December 18 and at the last minute if there is availability. Please cancel your booked session if you are no longer able to use it to ensure other people get an opportunity to use the gym as capacity is limited to four people at a time. Only those who have previously been authorised to use the Fitness Centre will be permitted to book a slot and unfortunately inductions for new users will not be available until after November 2. Read the full new conditions/book a slot

Detailed guidelines have been issued for people who want to use The Playing Fields and play sport. Rules for sport are changing regularly so do refer to the website for the latest updates. Read the Playing Fields and Sport guidelines

The Buttery (BDR) remains open (see below) and the Library is open - see the Library FAQs. The Covid-19 Committee have agreed that Housekeeping will cease cleaning Fellows’ residential and office accommodation. The staff will be redeployed to increase the frequency of cleaning of heavily used and shared facilities e.g. toilets by the BDR.

The College 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. A copy of the Bar Floor plan  and the Bar service/payment procedure can be found outside the College Bar. Entrance to the College Bar is via K staircase 2nd Court and exit is vis the door leading into 2nd Court    

The College Chapel is open for private prayer and reflection from 9am until 5pm every day for College members and staff, and Chapel services have now resumed for College members 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. 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. 

Further information.

The JCR and SBR remain closed.

Is the Buttery open? 

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 open for breakfast on Wednesdays only between 8am and 10am, and 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.

See the Buttery Updates page for full information and to learn how to open a Upay account if you wish to use the Order Ahead service.

Face coverings must be worn in the BDR and Bar when collecting food. 

What about feasts?

We have cancelled the Port Latin Feast, Benefactors' Dinner and it seems likely that other similar events will be cancelled.

Can I go punting?

Punt hire is available Punts will be cleaned from 10am each day ready for hiring, and availability is limited so bookings are restricted to current students, staff and Fellows. Please see the Porters' homepage for bookings, and read the punting hire guidelines. This will also be availble on the St John's Punt Society webpage.

I have developed symptoms of Covid-19. Can I get a test and, if so, how?

Testing is a key part of the University’s strategy for keeping its staff, workplaces and the wider community safe. The University offers swab tests to College and University staff and students, as well as staff at Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press, who have possible symptoms of Covid-19. If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you should arrange a test immediately. Tests should now be booked online via the web portal, not via the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health phone line.

When booking, you can select to take a test at one of two locations:

  • S2 Testing Pods, Addenbrooke's Hospital – 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. These pods are only accessible by car, or bike while wearing a mask. If you are already on the Biomedical Campus, you can access the pods on foot while wearing a mask.
  • Dyson Building, Department of Engineering, Fen Causeway entrance – 8.30am to 2.45pm, Monday to Friday. Accessible by bike or foot while wearing a mask. Access by car is possible but very limited.

Maps showing the locations of these testing pods can be found here.

If you develop symptoms after the closure of the Pod on Friday, or any time on Saturday or Sunday, or cannot access either of these two locations, you can arrange a test at an alternative location using the NHS website.

For enquiries about what to do if you or a member of your household has symptoms of Covid-19, please visit the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni website or contact the University’s dedicated Covid-19 helpdesk by phone 01223 339514 or email 

Symptoms which you should be aware of, and which you should act on to request a test for Covid-19, now ONLY include one or more of the following:

  • High temperature: this means a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature higher than 37.8C.
  •  New cough: this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough if you have one.
  • Loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, particularly in the absence of nasal congestion.

Should you develop any of these symptoms, please self-isolate immediately, and notify the College using our Symptom Reporting Form. We would like students, Fellows and staff to let us know if you develop symptoms.

Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms and has not yet returned to Cambridge should self-isolate at home and not return to College until the full 10 days of quarantine has been completed.

When should I self-isolate, and what help can you provide?

You must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you develop a new continuous cough, shortness of breath, a loss of taste or smell, and/or a fever greater than 37.8C.

You must also self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have received a positive test result, regardless of symptoms, or have been alerted by the track and trace service as having been in recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, or have been advised to isolate by a health care professional pending your test result.

You must complete our online form to report your symptoms/circumstances to the Health & Wellbeing Centre and the Porters. We will then provide specific advice for your individual circumstance. Please also consult the Government advice.

We will check on those we know are self-isolating and arrange for food to be brought to your room. We are concerned about the loneliness individuals may feel and will provide advice/support wherever we can.

Further NHS guidance on self-isolation

College Covid-19 symptom reporting form

Key information for isolation or quarantine due to Covid-19

Information about ending self isolation

My students are worried, what should I tell them?

Please direct students to the Covid-19 Student Guidelines for the latest rules and guidance for life at St John’s College during the pandemic. This should be used in parallel with the Student Handbook.

How can I help?

  •  A Cambridge-wide information gathering exercise is being established to identify researchers willing to be involved with the local or national Covid response should the need arise. This could involve assisting in testing or research. A website has been established to capture this information: Please complete it if you are willing to offer help locally or nationally.
  • Anyone who is able to help others is being encouraged to consider donating items or money to the Trussell Trust.
  • In Cambridge, food or financial donations can be made to Jimmy’s,  a charity that has been helping the homeless in the city for more than 20 years. 
  • The Red Hen Project is a small Cambridge based charity that works to support vulnerable families in the city. The charity has been providing food parcels to families in need during the lockdown.
  • You can also support Addenbrooke's and its staff during the coronavirus crisis. Your donation to Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust will aid the wellbeing of staff and help to provide vital equipment needed to support the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Women’s Aid, a national charity, is concerned about the impact of coronavirus lockdown measures have on women and children and is encouraging donations as pressure on their services increase.
  • Supermarkets also have collection points for different charities and food banks.