A message from the Vice-Chancellor for staff and students about how the most recent changes to England’s COVID policies affect the way we work and study at Cambridge.

Dear all,

I am writing to update you on how the most recent changes to England’s COVID policies affect the way we work and study at Cambridge.

The government announced yesterday that the temporary measures introduced last year under its “Plan B” will end on 26 January.

Some of the changes, however, are effective immediately. From today, the government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. Also from today, the government is no longer advising the use of face-coverings by students, staff and visitors in teaching settings.

The safety of our staff and our students remains of paramount importance. Even as we move towards a national lifting of all restrictions, the collegiate University will remain cautious in its approach, balancing the need to offer students the best possible experience with the need to ensure the health and wellbeing of members of our community.

Teaching and assessment

The University will continue to deliver as much in-person education and assessment as possible, in accordance with public health guidelines and subject to individual institutions’ risk mitigations.

Face coverings

The updated guidance from the Department for Education no longer advises the use of face-coverings for students, staff and visitors in teaching settings. (From 27 January, this advice will extend to communal areas). The DfE guidance states that “[t]hough no longer recommended, HE providers may still choose to use them voluntarily” .

In agreement with local public health authorities, the University continues to recommend the use of face-coverings in University teaching settings and communal University areas as a precautionary measure  – it is particularly important you continue to wear a face-covering in crowded and indoor spaces where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Working from home

The government is no longer advising that people should work from home if they can, and has urged everyone to talk to their employers about arrangements to return to the workplace. The academic University is reverting to the position it had adopted before the Omicron variant was identified. We therefore encourage University employees who are currently working from home to talk to your managers about how you can return safely to the workplace. In the meantime, we will continue to support University institutions as they explore and develop new or “hybrid” ways of working [Raven login required]. Individual institutions should continue to support the transition back to the workplace in ways that best support their operational needs, and the circumstances of their staff.

Unless there are any new and significant developments, we intend to keep the current guidance in place until at least the end of Lent Term. That said, we will keep all our guidance under review, and will of course communicate any changes. Colleges will advise their staff and students about local procedures.

I am grateful to all of you for your patience and your continued commitment to community health and safety at a time of change and uncertainty.

Best wishes,


Professor Stephen J Toope