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COVID-19 FAQ: COVID-19 safeguards and restrictions

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Topics covered: what to do if you are sick or self-isolating; NHS Test and Trace; vulnerable groups; social distancing on campus; safety measures on campus; face coverings; student health; raising concerns.


What if I'm displaying symptoms or need to self-isolate?

Staff, students and visitors must not enter campus if showing any symptoms of the virus. 

Please visit the government and NHS websites for the latest medical advice and immediate next steps to take if you or anyone in your household becomes unwell.

If you are suffering from symptoms, self-isolate, take a PCR test and please inform your line manager.

You can request a test for yourself or a member of your household from this NHS link. Those testing positive will need to follow instructions to self-isolate - please see the government's advice on self-isolation for full details. Your line manager will support you if you need to self-isolate, so please keep them informed. You will be paid if you need to self-isolate. 

If you are self-isolating but are sufficiently well and can work from home, then you should continue to do so. Just remember to keep in regular contact with your line manager. 

If you are too unwell to work, you will need to complete the NHS self-isolation note and should follow our standard sickness reporting procedure. Please ensure you keep your manager informed. 

If you are a line manager, further guidance is available in the ‘Guidance for Managers' section, which will help you on managing colleagues through the phased return. 

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What should I do if I get a positive COVID-19 test result?

It is important that you advise your line manager as soon as possible if you received a positive COVID-19 test result. This will enable us to take swift action where appropriate to minimise the risk to others. It also enables us to liaise with external bodies such as Public Health England and Local Authorities, to ensure that actions are effective and proportionate.

When reporting a positive test result to your line manager, you should provide as much information as you can about:

  • when you became symptomatic
  • when you had a test and when you received the results of the test
  • whether and when you've been to campus within the last few days before you became symptomatic and where on campus you have been working
  • anyone on campus whom you think may be close contact. Find the definition of close contact on the NHS website.

Any information provided to your line manager will be shared with your Head of School/Function, HR and with a small number of colleagues who are responsible for managing the University's response to any outbreaks, or potential outbreaks, of COVID-19 in our community.

The information will be held securely by the University and shared on a strictly need to know basis. Where necessary, this information may be shared with NHS England, Public Health England and other bodies involved in the protection of public health.

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What if I am contacted by the NHS Test and Trace?

If you are contacted as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme please follow any instructions you are given to self-isolate or to take a PCR test.

The guidance on self-isolating in England changed on the 16 August for those who are fully vaccinated with a UK-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID_19 app as having been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are no longer legally required to self-isolate if:

  • you have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine which has been approved in the UK, and
  • you are not displaying any symptoms.

However, you are advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to confirm whether you are carrying the virus or not, regardless of your vaccination status.

If you do not have any symptoms, you are not required to self-isolate while you are awaiting the test result.

If you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately, regardless of your vaccination status, and order a PCR test as soon as possible, and remain in self-isolation until you receive your test result.

We may have to keep records of people using certain buildings on campus for Test and Trace purposes, so please provide your contact details if you are asked for them. 

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Where and how can I get a rapid lateral flow COVID-19 test?

Staff and students who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 can pick up a home test kit from our collection point at the Library Café on campus or order home testing kits from Please see the COVID-19 FAQ: rapid non-symptomatic testing page for further details.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should request a PCR test for yourself or a member of your household from the NHS or by calling 119. A test should be booked as soon as symptoms begin.

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I think I have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but I have not been notified and advised to self-isolate. What should I do?

Contacts who need to self-isolate will usually be notified and advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace, including by the NHS COVID-19 app, and advised to take a PCR test. If you believe that you are a contact of someone with COVID-19 but have not yet been notified by Test and Trace, you should carefully follow the guidance on social distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

If you are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you can also pick up a home lateral flow test kit from collection points on campus or order home lateral flow testing kits from Please see the COVID-19 FAQ: rapid non-symptomatic testing page for further details.

If you are concerned that you may have symptoms of coronavirus, or you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, follow the Stay at Home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19, liaise with your line manager and follow the guidance What if I'm displaying symptoms or need to self-isolate.

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 What if I am in a high-risk group?

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should follow the government guidance which is updated regularly. If you have any concerns about your working arrangements, please speak to your line manager or HR Business Partner.

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Do I have to wear a face covering? 

In line with government changes, face coverings will no longer be expected. However, we will continue to encourage face coverings to be worn when moving around in indoor spaces and when in close contact with those you do not regularly spend time with. They can be removed when sitting at a desk (for example, in offices, classrooms and the Library) or once seated in our catering outlets.

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What happens if there is an outbreak on campus?

An outbreak arises when Public Health England (PHE), together with the local authority's Heath Protection Team, agree that the number of cases, and/or related context, warrant an Outbreak Control Meeting with the University, in accordance with the Outbreak Control Plan. In general, an outbreak occurs when it appears that a cluster of cases may have a common source, but the cases are not linked by individuals living in the same household.  

In the event of an outbreak, the University's response will be led by PHE and the local Health Protection Team, which may establish an Incident Management Team, depending on circumstances. A University Major Incident Team (MIT) will be established to respond to and manage the outbreak internally, assisting and responding to any requests from the Health Protection Team where possible. In all cases, confidentiality of the person(s) involved will be maintained and only shared where necessary in accordance with the Outbreak Control Plan or other agreed processes. 

The MIT will facilitate any investigation required, consider and take necessary action to cease activities, close buildings/areas, cancel events, identify additional support for cleaning, welfare in Halls etc, and support enhanced testing capacity if required. 

Information about an outbreak will be communicated to those directly involved by the MIT and/or the relevant Head of School/Function. Any further communications will be dependent on the nature and circumstances of the outbreak.

The role of the Major Recovery Team is to manage any subsequent disruption to University activities and work towards resumption of service, including by making use of business continuity plans as appropriate. 

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What do I do if a student becomes unwell on campus?

If a student reports that they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus they must go home ((to their student/term time accommodation, or where they are currently residing) immediately and:

  • 1. Get a testas soon as possible
  • 2. Stay at homeuntil they have their test result
  • 3. Tell all members of their householdthat they should self-isolate pending the results of the test (unless they are not required to self-isolate based on NHS guidance).

Please remind the student that further information and advice is published on the Essentials webpages.

There is no need to do anything further until the student receives their test result.

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What should students do if they have a positive test result for COVID-19?

The University has established a COVID-19 Case Management Team to support the national Test and Trace system.

If a student receives a positive test result for COVID-19 they must:

  • Notify the University using our online form
  • Follow all government advice to self-isolate (stay at home)
  • If they live in University halls, they should use the Home at Halls app to notify the team so they can provide support
  • Follow all instructions from the Case Management Team and the NHS and engage with the Test and Trace system (including advising Test and Trace that they are connected to the University)
  • Let all members of their household know, as they may need to self-isolate in line with government advice
  • Report their absence to their School in the usual way (or contact their Support Centre or Henley Helpdesk if they're not sure how to do this)

We will liaise with our local health partners for further advice on any further action required. We will also appoint a Case Officer (Hall Warden or member of the Student Welfare Team) to liaise with the household affected and ensure they have everything they need for the self-isolation period.

Colleagues must not share information with other students or staff -- this information is personal to the student and should be treated confidentially by you. It is the role of the COVID-19 University Case Management Team and NHS Test and Trace to notify students and/or colleagues to self-isolate where this is appropriate. Taking action yourself risks giving advice that may be contrary to that of Public Health England, as their advice will depend on the broader context within the University and in the Reading area.

The University has in place procedures to manage the liaison with Public Health England and the Local Authority, to share information appropriately and lawfully, to provide welfare and pastoral support to students and to communicate with relevant groups of staff and students in an effective and timely way.

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What should I do if a student says they are struggling to manage with their self-isolation?

Please ask the student to contact our COVID-19 Support & Behaviour Team in Student Services (, or contact them directly on behalf of the student. They will either provide advice for the student directly or liaise with the Student Welfare Team to deploy additional support via the SoS (Support our Students) Scheme, our Campus Commerce Team or another mechanism.

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What should I do if a student reports that they are worried about the behaviour of another group of students who are breaching the COVID-19 guidelines?

Please ask the student to contact our COVID-19 Support & Behaviour Team in Student Services ( to report their concern. They will provide further advice.

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What should I do if a student mentions they are in a clinically vulnerable group and have concerns about their health?

Please ask the student to seek medical advice from their GP to understand the risks in relation to their condition, or contact the Disability Advisory Team for further advice.

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l Are there extra cleaning and hygiene measures in place?

Our enhanced cleaning regimes and protocols on campus will remain in place throughout the autumn term. This enhanced cleaning may not be visible as cleaners will mostly work out of office hours to minimise contact with other staff. Protocols have been devised for additional cleaning in the event of positive COVID-19 test results for anyone known to have come on site.

All colleagues are encouraged to continue washing their hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Hand sanitiser is provided in some parts of the University, where risk assessment has identified this is appropriate.

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Is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be provided?

If a risk assessment identifies that individual colleagues are at increased risk of infection directly from their work activity, the University will supply appropriate PPE.

Colleagues delivering face-to-face teaching can request a face visor, which can provide reassurance for both staff and students as well as allowing easier communication.

You are welcome and encouraged to use personal face coverings and hand sanitiser, particularly inside buildings, as long as these do not compromise other control measures provided for health & safety. If using a single-use mask, it is your personal responsibility to ensure it is appropriately disposed of.

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What measures are in place to provide ventilation in indoor spaces on campus?

Guidance on ventilation in a COVID-19 context, specifically for universities, was published in the Department for Education guidance .

We have carried out technical ventilation assessments of all central teaching spaces to comply with this, and other relevant guidance. The maximum occupancy for central teaching rooms continues to be guided by the capacity based on ventilation requirements.

For other spaces on campus, the government scientific advice is that the risk of transmission should remain low in building spaces which already conform to conventional ventilation standards for usual office activities. Ventilation is likely to be adequate in a space if it is served by either forced (mechanical) ventilation or openable windows.

We are not planning to install or distribute carbon dioxide monitors to most conventional workspaces. As outlined above, we have experience of monitoring and measuring air quality and, throughout the pandemic, we have used air quality monitors (which include carbon dioxide measurements) to check ventilation in spaces previously evaluated through other methods.

When working on campus, we recommend that you make the most of available opportunities for ensuring good ventilation, such as opening windows or doors (except fire doors). If you feel a space has particularly poor ventilation (for example, a musty smell or high humidity) please seek further advice from your local Health & Safety Co-ordinator.

If you are planning activities which may generate high levels of aerosols, such as a choir singing or multiple attendees simultaneously talking for extended periods (for an activity with Head of School or Function approval), your Risk Assessment should consider other ways to reduce risk, such as gathering outdoors.

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Are there extra behavioural considerations to be aware of?

Please read our updated Code of Conduct (Word, 698 KB) for the Autumn term and complete the two COVID-19 induction modules on UoRLearn, which have been updated to reflect our transition back to campus for the new academic year. As a community we must be constantly mindful of others' concerns and personal preferences. Please be kind and courteous of those around you and remember that we are all working through this together.

If you have any questions about your specific team or office space, please speak to your line manager.

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Are there extra considerations for those with disabilities or increased vulnerability?

If you have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, MRT continues to encourage you to discuss issues with your line manager so that we can be responsive to your needs and arrange local or individual measures as required. PhD supervisors and lead tutors should also be responsive to such issues raised by their students.

Hand sanitiser will be available for disabled colleagues using lifts and others who cannot easily access handwashing facilities.

Lifts should be reserved for those with a genuine need arising from disability (including invisible disabilities), injury, illness, pregnancy or a manual handling task. Only one person should use a lift at a time, and ample space should be given for those entering/exiting the lift.

Disabled colleagues and students and those with mobility challenges can also disregard any one-way systems within a building to ensure access as required. 

What if there is an emergency on campus, such as a fire?

In the unlikely event of an emergency, such as a campus fire or major incident, your safety is our primary concern - please follow our usual evacuation procedure. Any one-way systems in place within a building should be disregarded in the event of an emergency.

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Where can I find additional Health & Safety guidance?

On the Health & Safety Policies, Safety Guides and Notes page there are Safety Notes on low occupancy buildings, COVID-19 First Aid and risk mitigation measures.  If any of these topics apply to you, please take a moment to review this additional guidance.     

If you need to log an incident or concern, please use this online form to report an accident or incident. You can use this to record details of any Health and Safety issues, such as an accident, near-miss, general concern, occupational illness or injury.   

If you have any specific health and safety queries, please contact your local Health & Safety Co-ordinator in the first instance - you can find details of these and the areas they cover on this page.

If you need further or specialised assistance please contact Health & Safety Services on or call 0118 378 8888.

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How do I raise any questions I have about working on campus?

You should discuss working on campus with your line manager and raise any questions or concerns you have with them. 

You may find the following risk assessment tools helpful if you have concerns about working based on your circumstances:

  • Risk Assessment Tool 1 (for those who identify they may be vulnerable due to an underlying health conditions or protected characteristic, for example ethnicity, age, gender). Download (Word, 16 KB)
  • Risk Assessment Tool 2 (Where staff have been identified as having an increased risk via Risk Assessment Tool 1). This tool helps you to evaluate the residual risk of COVID-19 transmission through work activities. Download (Word, 16 KB)

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