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.

The current status of the pandemic, the increased transmissibility of the virus and the national lockdown have meant that we have had to make a number of changes to College operations.

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 College Nurse or the Porters.

Step 4 of the Government’s Roadmap out of Lockdown begins on Monday 19 July
Visit the Coronavirus Information page for details on what this means for St John's


A College Covid ‘Silver’ Group and a ‘Gold’ Group manage the College’s response to Covid-19.

The Gold Group, made up of members of the College Council and chaired by the Master, is responsible for the College’s strategic decision making. The Silver Group manages the day-to-day Covid-19 operational decisions and is chaired by the Domestic Bursar.

Conduct during the pandemic

The University of Cambridge and the individual Colleges have worked together during the Covid-19 pandemic to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of the entire community. The Covid-19 virus brings significant risks in terms of public health and mitigating these risks is the responsibility of us all. The University has issued a Covid-19 Student Community Statement which represents a commitment by all members of the collegiate University community to behave in a way that minimises the risk of spreading the virus.

Think carefully about reducing all opportunities for infection and read the University Coronavirus guidance for further information on how you can manage your time in Cambridge as safely as possible.

Please follow the latest Government advice, which changes on Monday 19 July as we move to Step 4 of the national roadmap out of lockdown. Everyone should be cautious whilst managing the risks as cases of Covid-19 across the country remain high.

While living in College you are sharing a space with others who are in vulnerable categories including Fellows who are over 70, and fellow students and staff with underlying health issues. We expect you to behave appropriately. Please maintain a distance of at least two metres from others not in your household or support bubble. In some areas of College and when sharing a space, such as the Buttery, face coverings will be required until seated. Please have your College card on you at all times as you may be asked to produce it to confirm that you are a member of St John's. Do respect these requirements and look out for changes in the guidelines which will occur from time to time.

Wearing a face covering 

From Monday 19 July, face coverings should continue to be worn in enclosed spaces where more than one person is present unless everyone present is comfortable to remove them and mitigating factors are in place. As a courtesy, face coverings should be worn by all, unless exempt, if requested.

Face coverings must still be worn whilst moving around in the Buttery/bar and other dining spaces.

The College will review this policy in September.

Face coverings are not required outdoors.

Read the full Face Coverings Policy

Guidance on how to wear a face covering

Travel and quarantine

The Government has introduced a traffic light system for international travel. You should not travel to countries or territories on the red or amber lists.

Travelling to England from outside the UK

What you must do when you arrive in England from abroad depends on where you have been in the last 10 days before you arrive.

People planning to travel to England should follow the guidance on entering the UK.

Find out which list the country you are travelling from is on and what you need to do.

From 19 July, fully vaccinated people returning to England from amber list countries will not need to quarantine.

Full information

If you are travelling to England, please follow the guidelines provided for quarantining students.

Visitors and gatherings/events

From Monday 19 July, the visitor policy permits St John’s alumni and their guests to enter the College, along with other members of the University and those visiting for specific education or research purposes.

You may also have access to the College main site if:

  • you are a Member of the College community as defined in the full visitor policy
  • you are a partner or family member of a Member of the College community
  • you are a guest visiting residential Fellows or students in their rooms 
  • you have a work/education related purpose for attending the site.

Use of the Buttery, College Bar and other indoor communal College facilities are restricted to staff, students and Fellows only.

All members of the College and visitors should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where more than one person is present unless everyone present is comfortable to remove them and mitigating factors are in place. As a courtesy, face coverings should be worn by all if requested.

The site remains closed to the general public.

Read the updated visitor policy

Using the College grounds/outdoor gatherings

All current Members of the College community and their guests, as defined by the visitor policy, are permitted access to the College grounds. When using the College grounds please remember:

  • The Great Gate and the rear of College are locked
  • Access to College is via the Forecourt or Cripps Lodge

Please note, Kitchen Bridge will be closed from 2 August as part of the Community Hub work.

The playing fields remain open to all Members of the College community.

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.

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)

Academic Arrangements


The University and Colleges remain open, and will continue to engage in research, learning and education.

Supervisions in the Easter Term will be offered remotely and, as the term progresses, in any other form that can be offered safely and in line with Government and University guidelines. . Students will be advised further by the College, Supervisors and Directors of Studies.

Please continue to look out for messages from your Director of Studies, your Tutor, your supervisors, the Academic Administrator for your subject and your faculty or department on these matters. Please read the Friday College Bulletin which is sent to you by email, and keep an eye on the website too.

Arrangements for teaching in the Easter Term 

Easter Term update from the University


Returning to accommodation

If you are a student returning to St John’s College accommodation here are some things of which you should be aware:

  • The College has conducted a risk assessment of its site and accommodation.
  • The College has put in place proportionate measures to mitigate against the current risks.
  • Targeted and increased cleaning of all communal areas in College is being conducted and cleaning materials are available for those who live off-site.
  • Social distancing measures are in place – please adhere to them.
  • Hand cleaning facilities are widely available.


In common with all other Colleges, to mitigate the risk arising from Covid-19, students are grouped in ‘student households’ for accommodation purposes. Students living within a household share dedicated kitchen, toilet and washing facilities. 

Should a member of the household contract the virus or have any symptoms and need to self-isolate then the entire household will be required to self-isolate in line with government guidance and College advice (full details of the self-isolation procedure and support are set out in the Health and Welfare section below).

Termly rental periods

All students in residence have been sent an updated student room licence. This allows full use of rooms from seven days before the start of Michaelmas Full Term (29 September 2020) until 26 June 2021 (undergraduates) or from arrival until 31 August 2021 (postgraduates).

College gates

The Great Gate entrance to the College is closed as are all gates at the rear of College. Entrance to the College is currently via the Forecourt entrance in Bridge St, the Forecourt wicket gate (8am – 5pm Monday to Friday only), or via Cripps Lodge. The gate by Cripps into Magdalene College is also locked.

Mail collection

Parcel/mail collection is available from the Great Gate Porters’ Lodge from 7.30am-6pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-6pm Saturday and Sunday.

Student accommodation in lockdowns

In the case of the current national lockdown, the University and the Colleges are, as ever, 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.

Safety and Security

Porters are on duty 24/7 to support all students and to ensure the College site and outside hostels are safe and secure. The Forecourt Porters’ Lodge and Cripps Lodge are open 24/7. Please report any security or safety concerns you have by phoning 01223 338671 or emailing


Cleaning in College

The Bedmaking/Gyp team has returned to College to resume their once per fortnight visits to clean student rooms inside the College. They are also cleaning communal areas such as student kitchens and bathrooms, both inside and outside the accommodation. The evening and weekend team will ensure that all the ‘high touch’ areas are cleaned such as Porters’ Lodges, toilets, and supervisors’ rooms.

All previous safety precautions will apply, such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, and the use of hand sanitiser.  

During the exam period, students will be given notices to fix on their doors. Housekeeping staff will continue to clean communal bathroom and kitchens but they will check all room doors in the property/staircase before they begin. If notices are displayed, staff will not vacuum.

All previous safety precautions will apply, such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, and the use of hand sanitiser.  

In the meantime, please note that you will be asked to take responsibility for the cleanliness of the room allocated to you, to remove all rubbish, recycling, landfill and food waste to the bin collection areas in College around the Courts, or the central bin area in Cripps, and to maintain high levels of hygiene in any bathroom or kitchen facilities that you share with your household. All outside properties have their own Council rubbish bins and you should continue to put them to the kerbside for emptying as usual.

Cleaning routines

Please refer to the Waste Management Policy for further information (subject to change).

Cleaning Guidance

Guidance on the cleaning of kitchens, bathrooms and toilets


A new online Maintenance request system, TabsFM, is live from Monday 21 June.

Phone calls will be accepted if it is an *emergency (see below), but students will still have to raise a maintenance request using the online portal. 

Make a maintenance request

The portal link can also be found under Maintenance Request Form on the student homepage under Frequently Used Links.

All Maintenance operatives will wear face coverings in occupied rooms and buildings. All Maintenance contractors will wear identification badges to prove they have been fully Covid-19 inducted and wear PPE when appropriate.

*Emergencies only: For gas, water leaks and overflows, structural movements, live electrics or any other emergencies call the Maintenance Department on 01223 338705 on weekdays or the Porters on weekends 01223 338671.


Facilities & Co-Curricular


It important to allow access to practice facilities where possible and safe for anyone in College who wishes to use them. In addition, certain rooms have been prioritised for those reading Music as they will, inevitably, need greater access to these facilities. The New Music Room will remain bookable for  individuals but only through the Music Administrator Sophie Kirk,

We ask that all students use hand sanitiser before entering a music practice room. There will be wipes available in each room to wipe the keyboard and music stands before and after each use. Please leave the windows open after your session to allow adequate ventilation before the next use.

  • Fisher Building Music Rooms 1 & 4 are available for those studying Music only. They should book in the usual way, through the online booking system. No one else will be able to book these rooms. The days have been divided into 2 hour slots and each slot may only have one person booking it. A 30 minute ‘ventilation’ gaps has been put in between each bookable slot.
  • Fisher Building Music Rooms 2 & 3 are available for other students (and we ask that Music students do not book these rooms). They should book in the usual way, through the online booking system, but for the first time of use they should be booked through Sophie Kirk, Once booked, keys for the rooms should be signed out from Cripps Porters Lodge. The days have been divided into 1 hour slots and each slot may only have one person booking it. 30 ‘ventilation’ gaps have been put in between each bookable slot.
  • The NMR is bookable, in advance, through the Music Administrator, This space should be saved for singing.
  • Students are asked not to invite others into rooms and not to book rooms for others. 
  • The Band Room and Equipment Cupboard in the Fisher Basement will remain closed. Should any students need access or to borrow equipment this must be requested well in advance by contacting the Music Administrator, It is not guaranteed that this permission will be granted, but each case will be considered individually.


Study space

All Saints Passage study rooms are open to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Spaces must be booked via the Public Rooms booking system. The kitchenette cannot be used as it is not possible to regulate the use of it or keep it clean. They will be open from 9am-7pm with a maximum of two people per booking and a three hour time limit per booking.  Entrance is through the gates into Corfield Court and on the right.

The Palmerston Room has opened as a drop in study room with 24 socially distanced spaces available (one table and chair per student). It will be open from 9am – 6pm and there is no need to book - just scan the QR Code on the Palmerston Room doors when you arrive for test and trace purposes. The room will be cleaned twice per day.  As with all shared College study spaces, face coverings are required. Please note, the room will not be available as a study space on May 10, 11 and 12.

The Ante-Chapel is also available as study space from 9.30am to 5pm every day - please see the Chapel section for more details below.

Art Room

Architecture students are permitted to use the on-site art room as long as they work alone and the Covid-19 booking and cleaning policy is followed.

Student Services

Student Services has reopened their office to drop-in visitors. The office, based in F Staircase, Chapel Court, is now open every week day from 10am-12pm and again from 2pm-4pm with Covid-19 safety measures in place.

Drop-in Zoom sessions will continue to be held on Wednesdays from 4.30pm-5.30pm for anyone who is not in Cambridge. Students Services staff continue to be available to support students via email and telephone during normal office hours.

Zoom link
Meeting ID: 889 9581 6565
Passcode: 370897


The JCR 

The JCR has reopened for bookable slots from Tuesday 1 June until 27 June, 9am-2pm and 3pm-11pm.

It will be closed daily before 9am and between 2-3pm for cleaning, and the last booking will be at 10pm. All students must leave by 11pm.

The JCR has been added to the Public Rooms booking system as follows:

  • JCR - Games Room (table tennis, pool table, darts) – one-hour slots – six people capacity – one person to book
  • JCR - TV/Games console – one-hour slots – six people capacity – one person to book

Cleaning spray and paper towels will be supplied for students to use between Housekeeping cleaning sessions.

Please do follow the rules to ensure the JCR can remain open this term for all students to enjoy.

Student events, meetings and activities in College

The College recognises that interacting socially and creatively with other students is an important part of College life. Such activities are guided by the terms laid out in the Student Handbook. Sadly, in the context of the national lockdown, the College’s wide range of clubs and societies can continue operating online only. 

Don’t forget to follow the JCR on social media and join the St John’s College Students group on Facebook:


Fitness Centre 

The Fitness Centre is open daily from 6am until 10pm. All one-hour sessions must be booked in advance, and can be booked last minute if there is availability.

Only those who have previously been authorised to use the Fitness Centre will be permitted to book a slot. Those wishing to use the Fitness Centre, but have not yet been inducted need to:

  1. Watch the induction video, Fitness Centre Induction, it’s only 16 minutes and highlights the new Covid procedures
  2. Read and agree to the Fitness Centre Commitment Statement
  3. Once you’ve done both the steps above, go onto the Fitness Centre Moodle page and tick the box on the right to say you’ve completed induction
  4. Wait around two working days for Student Services to grant you access to the Fitness Centre booking page

To gain access to the Fitness Centre you need to pick up an entry card from the Cripps Porters’ Lodge at the time you booked your Fitness Centre slot. 

If you are not able to attend your booked session, please ensure you cancel it so that other people can use the facilities as capacity is limited to four people at a time. 

Book a space in the Fitness Centre

Free Weights Area update

The Free Weights Area in the Fitness Centre is open. Some changes have been made to keep everyone safe, and certain rules must be strictly adhered to:

Full details and booking instructions

The Boathouse

The Boathouse is now open for members of the LMBC.

Playing fields and astro pitch

The playing fields and astro pitch can be used for exercise. Each College member can bring up to three guests from another household.  

The playing fields are also now open for a range of sports, including rugby, football, hockey, netball, tennis, cricket, volleyball, lacrosse and frisbee. No booking is required, but to use the courts contact the Head Groundsman for the updated code. All sports are required to follow the risk assessments provided to the Head Groundsman.If in any doubt, please consult the National Association guidance for the relevant sport.  Please note, the only matches permitted under Government guidelines are officially sanctioned League or CUPPERs games.

Use of the astro and hard courts, Spring/Summer 2021

It is imperative that any person who is showing any symptoms (a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, loss of, or change in, your sense of taste) does not come to the playing fields or astro pitch to exercise under any circumstances. If you feel ill in this way, please complete the College online form and follow the advice in the Key information for isolation or quarantine due to Covid-19

For specific national sports, consult the National Sport Association or England Hockey, etc.

Squash Courts

The squash courts can now be booked for play following the rule of six or two households. 

Badminton between households is also permitted. To enquire about badminton please contact Accommodation & Bookings via 

Book a squash court


The Punt Society has implemented Covid-secure rules to allow the return of punt hire on the River Cam. Punt hire is only available to St John's students who are currently resident in Cambridge, Fellows and members of staff. Occupancy is restricted to members of up to two households and not more than six people in a single punt. 

Find full details on The Punt Society page


Until further notice, the Library is offering a combination of in-person, zero-contact and remote services.

Please visit the Library homepage for full details of our current services, which include pre-bookable study spaces in the Library, 'Virtual Library' study sessions on Zoom, and 'Click & Collect' for borrowing items.

Freshers' information

For those new to the Library and its resources, a virtual tour and a range of PDF guides are available on the Working Library webpages


Entry to the Chapel is via the Chapel Court doors, please exit via First Court doors. Hand sanitiser is available on entry. Regular and ongoing cleaning will continue in the Chapel.

The Chapel has resumed a full schedule of choral services. Evensong takes place each night at 6.30pm (except Wednesdays), plus Sung Eucharist at 10.30am on Sundays.

As capacity is very limited please arrive in good time. For Sunday Evensongs you will need to book a space via Eventbrite; the link will be sent out in good time each week.

Students may now bring one or two guests to Chapel services. These should be guests as currently envisaged in the Visitor Policy. Please contact the Chapel Clerk, Stephen Stokes, to reserve places. You do not need to book in if you are coming on your own, except for Sunday Evensong.

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

Catering & Bar


The Buttery is now in the temporary structure and open at lunch from 12pm to 1.30pm and from 6pm to 7pm for dinner. Face coverings must be worn. 'Click and collect' has finished and will recommence in September for those self-isolating.

Diners can now sit down in the temporary structure with takeaway containers and from 19 July meals will be served with crockery and cutlery. One-metre social distancing to be observed and a mask to be worn until you are seated.  

The Patio outside of the Buttery is unavailable.

College Bar

The bar is open in the temporary structure. The opening hours are 5pm to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 2pm to 9.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. It is table service until 19 July, after which you will be able to order at the bar. One-metre social distancing to be observed and a mask to be worn until you are seated.  

Health and Welfare


Currently the College Nurses and College Counsellor are holding consultations via telephone or video link due to Covid-19; these can be booked via Moodle when term begins or via direct email: Ruth Dean, College Nurse,; Karen Miles, Health and Wellbeing Nurse:; Susie Renshaw, College Counsellor: The email address health& can be used to reach either Nurse. The Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and University Counselling Service (UCS) are also holding consultations via telephone or video links.

Handwashing 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.

Taking your temperature

Thermometers are available in the Porters’ Lodges. Please read the guidance on using the thermometers to take your temperature effectively.


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.

College Covid-19 symptom/contact reporting form

Key information for isolation or quarantine due to Covid-19

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

Testing for Covid-19

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 

Wider Covid-19 symptomatic testing criteria

New criteria for the University Covid-19 symptomatic testing has been introduced to include milder but clinically relevant symptoms.

It includes: 

  • High temperature – a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature above 37.8° C
  • New cough – this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough (if you have one)
  • A loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, particularly in the absence of nasal congestion
  • A sore throat
  • Nasal discharge or congestion
  • Muscle aches
  • New hoarseness
  • New shortness of breath
  • A new wheeze
  • A positive Lateral Flow test

Anyone who meets the criteria listed above can go to one of the University’s Covid symptomatic testing stations. By testing quickly, we have the ability to react fast and appropriately.

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.

Weekly asymptomatic testing programme for students

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

This proactive scheme, which is being hailed as best practice across the UK’s Higher Education sector, is currently the most effective way to protect yourselves and the wider St John’s community from infection. For it to work, it relies on a high participation rate to have the most impact. Everyone who is eligible is strongly encouraged to take part to enable life to slowly begin to return to normal.

Further information on the asymptomatic screening programme. 

Care for students in self-isolation

The College is committed to ensuring all quarantining and self or house isolating students are provided for. Whilst quarantining or isolating it is not permitted to use the College facilities or public areas.

For those in quarantine, Tutors will check in with new students by email and offer a Zoom or Skype meeting soon after you begin your quarantine to introduce themselves and discuss any concerns you may have. You may contact them by email at any time after your arrival to ask questions or request a follow-up meeting. If your Tutor is on holiday when you arrive we will put you in touch with another Tutor to provide support while you are in quarantine. You may also contact the Health and Wellbeing Centre health& .

For those in self-isolation who are current students, you should nominate two self-isolation supporters from outsider your immediate household and vicinity who can provide help and assistance.  If you have not done so already, please let the College know who your self-isolation supporters will be. If you are unable to name two self-isolation supporters, the SBR or JCR Presidents will be able to assist in nominating self-isolation supporters who are willing to assist you during this time. Your Tutor will also ensure that they are available to provide support during this time.

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, to be collected by your supporter. This will also provide basic toiletries/washing powder etc. Students would be charged as per normal for these facilities via Upay. You can arrange for food to be delivered to one of the Porters Lodges, but it must be collected for you.

Key information for students supporting those in self-isolation/quarantine

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

Back to main Coronavirus Information page