A message to students and staff about enhanced government measures announced on 8 December 2021. 

Dear students and colleagues,

Last night the government announced enhanced measures in response to a national increase in the number of COVID cases – and in particular to the spread of the Omicron variant. It is clear that we are once again entering a period of some uncertainty, and that we must all be prepared to adapt and adjust as necessary. In the meantime, we can all contribute to our community’s safety through frequent testing, by taking basic precautions such as the use of face-coverings, and by ensuring we are fully vaccinated.

Working from home

One of the recommendations made in yesterday’s announcement is that people should work from home where they can. However, the Department for Education’s updated guidance, published this morning, makes clear the expectation that in-person teaching and learning should continue, and that staff needed to support the continuation of in-person teaching and learning are exempt from the working from home guidance.

The University and Colleges remain committed to delivering as much in-person education and assessment as possible, and to ensuring that we are as effective as possible in undertaking research. In pursuit of that objective, and in line with government guidance, we expect in-person teaching and assessment to continue next term, subject to the necessary precautions. Likewise, any work that depends on in-person, on-site activities should carry on – again, subject to precautions. This extends to the activities of administrative staff whose on-site work is essential to support our academic endeavours.

Travel, testing and vaccinations

The DfE’s guidance emphasises the importance of students taking a COVID test before they travel home for the Christmas break, as well as before travelling back to term-time accommodation in January.

Social events

I urge all colleagues and students across the collegiate University to exercise judgment in deciding whether it is safe and prudent for any social events planned over the next few weeks to go ahead. When an assessment of the risk suggests that an event can take place, I would strongly encourage the deployment of all possible mitigations – from guests’ use of Lateral Flow Testing, to ensuring adequate ventilation, to using face-coverings where possible.

We are in a better position than we were at this time last year. But the changing public health landscape means that risks remain, and our behaviour remains a key to keeping the Cambridge community safe. I thank you all, in advance, for your patience and cooperation.

With best wishes,


Professor Stephen J Toope