Lent term: Update 7 January 2021

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

After considerable reflection, we have taken the difficult decision to move all teaching and learning for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students online for the entirety of the Lent term. Undergraduate and postgraduate taught students should remain where they are currently staying. Postgraduate research students who are able to work from their out-of-term address should do so. Postgraduate research students who consider Cambridge to be their primary place of residence should review the information at the following link.

For exceptions, and for more information, see the message issued by the Vice-Chancellor on 6 January 2021.

The information and guidance on these pages will be updated as soon as possible.


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Students studying remotely 

Most undergraduate students and students undertaking taught postgraduate courses must study remotely until government regulations allow for return to Cambridge. For exceptions, information for postgraduate research students and further details, see this message from the Vice-Chancellor

College, departmental and Faculty support remains available to students studying remotely. Information on accessing library services, including remote and zero-contact facilities, is available on the library webpages. The Disability Resource CentreUniversity Counselling Service and Careers Service are all available online and for remote appointments. This section, on help and support gives more information on support available from the University and your college.


Living in Cambridge

The University and the Colleges are making every effort to ensure the health and wellbeing of students during this period. For students who are in residence during the period of national lockdown, Colleges will continue to offer accommodation, food and a wide range of college services. 

It is essential that you follow the information on these StaySafeCambridgeUni webpages and government advice.

Please also read and align yourself with the Collegiate University’s COVID Community Statement. This brief statement of purpose emphasises our individual and collective responsibility in minimising risks, and maximising support, for students, staff and visitors.

All resident members of Colleges are expected to abide by these key principles:

  • Minimise the risks of virus transmission in all aspects of your life 
  • Limit contact with other people outside of your household 
  • Observe social distancing practices when you go out, keeping at least 2m apart wherever possible and taking other precautions, such as wearing a face covering, if this is not possible 
  • Sanitise or wash your hands regularly 
  • Do not leave home if you, or anyone you live with, has symptoms. 


How COVID-19 is transmitted and how to reduce risks

Since December 2020, a new, highly transmissible version of SARS-Cov-2 has spread throughout  South-East and Eastern England since the end of last term. This makes it even more important to follow measures to reduce transmission.

COVID-19 is transmitted in three ways:

  • Direct person-to-person contact - if an infectious person breathes droplets on you or you pick them up through physical contact with an infectious person.
  • Contact with a contaminated surface - if you touch a surface contaminated with the virus and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you may be infected.
  • Aerosol transmission - fine droplets of liquid containing virus are breathed out, form an aerosol and are carried through the air. You may become infected if you breathe these in.

If you are further away from someone there’s less risk of catching the virus from droplets or aerosol transmission. However, distance isn’t the only thing that matters.

  • Duration - the longer you are close to an infectious person, the higher the risk.
  • Fresh air - the risk is lower if you are outdoors, or in a well ventilated area.
  • Direction - the risk is lower if you are not face-on with the infectious person.

The risk of transmission is small at 2m and where possible, you should maintain 2m distance.

If it is not possible to keep 2m distance, reduce the risk to yourself and others at 1m by taking suitable precautions:

  • Sit / stand side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them
  • Meet people outdoors
  • Keep interactions brief
  • Wear a face covering when indoors, on  public transport, in shops or crowded indoor environments
  • Increase ventilation
  • Avoid loud talking or singing with others

To minimise the risk of transmission via surface contact, you should:

  • Regularly wash your hands using soap and water or use hand sanitiser
  • Avoid touching surfaces and do not touch your face
  • Dispose of waste safely, including items such as paper face masks or gloves

In all cases, you must not go to work or attend other public spaces if you are symptomatic, or a member of your household is symptomatic.


Households in the University of Cambridge context

If you live in College accommodation that includes a shared bathroom/shower and/or toilet and/or kitchen area, then all the occupants that share these facilities constitute a ‘household’. Close and consistent adoption of this practice has helped protect students already in Cambridge in the months since lockdown was applied, and we need your help to maintain this to minimise the risk to yourself and others.  The size and nature of each household will inevitably vary depending upon the type of accommodation available and offered in different Colleges.

Take joint responsibility for keeping your room and shared facilities clean: By taking care of cleaning your own room and by cleaning shared facilities each time you use them you reduce the frequency of visits from housekeeping staff, keeping everyone safer.

Communal entrances to accommodation: Be aware of high-contact surfaces including door handles and stair bannisters in communal entrances. Wash your hands before leaving your household and immediately after returning.

As part of a ‘social bubble’

Government guidance on meeting people from outside your household allows, in theory, for a person living in a single person household to connect up with a second household (a ‘social bubble’) – enabling closer contact between individuals without social distancing. 

For students living in single person households during the current period of limited return to Cambridge (Lent Term), the formation of a support bubble should, under most circumstances, be feasible. Any bubble must be registered with the college, and all students involved must give their consent to the bubble formation. Students must contact their colleges if they wish to form a support bubble. Please note that, in the event that any member of either household becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, the whole bubble would need to isolate.


Face coverings

Updated advice (7 Jan 2021)

The University and Colleges now expect all members of the Cambridge community to wear face coverings at ALL times in ALL indoor work or study settings, even if social distancing of at least 2 m can be maintained. The only exceptions are work in single-occupancy rooms with closed doors, when actively eating or drinking, or when the individual concerned has a medical exemption. Staff should carry face coverings with them at all times and wear them when asked to do so by College or University authorities.

Full University and Colleges joint statement on face coverings >


Meeting others socially

During the period of national lockdown, you should stay at home except for the reasons outlined in the government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home 

You must not meet socially with others unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (for example for a social meeting or picnic).  

You can exercise with one other person in an outdoor setting: see information on sports and exercise 


Sports and exercise

Under the new national lockdown restrictions, you can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

The University of Cambridge Sports Centre, though closed in line with national restrictions,  is organsing a virtual 'Couch to 5k' group throughout the Lent Term


Clubs and Societies

For more information on how each club or society will be operating during the pandemic, we advise you to refer to individual websites. These can be found through the University of Cambridge Registered Clubs and Societies page.


Pastoral and wellbeing matters

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has brought personal hardship to many if not most of us in different ways. The University and Colleges are committed to offering as much help as possible and are working closely together to do this.

If you require support or help your immediate source is your College. Your Tutor or Senior Tutor would normally be your point of first contact, but College NursesPortersDeans or Chaplains and the Tutorial Office staff in general also typically form part of Colleges’ support teams.

Welfare Officers and other executive members of your JCR or MCR are also able to offer support.

See the Help and support page for information on the University’s support services, including the University Counselling Service and Disability Resource Centre, which are maintaining an online service. Do make use of them if you need to, with your Tutor’s help if needed. Online support and information can be accessed through the University’s wellbeing website. Check your College website for information on College-based support.

Please let your Tutor or someone else in the support team at your College know if you are feeling lonely, anxious, or isolated, particularly if you are currently living in non-shared accommodation.