Safety advice for students
Updated 5 January 2021
Keeping all our students safe is a top priority for us. We continue to be guided by the latest official government guidance. At Imperial, we also have some of the world’s leading researchers of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic who are advising governments around the world on the most effective measures to take to protect people from the virus as well as developing and testing a new vaccine.
Government guidance continues to change in the UK and we are regularly updating our plans for your safe return to campus. You can find out what the changes mean for you on our College COVID-19 status and response webpage.
This webpage contains guidance on the measures we are taking for your safety, plus information about the healthcare support available to you. You can also access our main COVID-19 Safety Guidance webpage which has more information about the safety measures and policies we have in place to keep our campuses and communities safe from COVID-19.
What measures can I expect at the College?
Access to testing
Imperial is running a COVID-19 testing scheme for staff and students who are asymptomatic.
Any Imperial student or staff member can book a test as long as:
- you are asymptomatic – that is, you do not have symptoms of COVID-19; and
- you have not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus or is displaying symptoms of the virus; and
- you are working or studying on-campus.
If you start to feel the symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild, you can freely access testing through the National Health Service (NHS) and can find the nearest testing location and more advice by looking on their website. Check the NHS website for the symptoms of coronavirus.
The College has established a contact tracing process through the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub which will interface with the NHS’s Test and Trace service. It means that any local instances of the virus can be quickly dealt with and contacts traced to prevent further spread at the College. There are various methods of contact tracing in operation on our campuses currently, you must abide by them. You should also download the NHS COVID-19 app.
On arrival at Imperial, you will receive a welcome pack that will include three washable cotton face coverings, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes.
Good infection control
The College is implementing good infection control procedures, for example, by frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly including door handles, light switches, furniture, handrails, IT equipment, desks, phones, flush plates, taps and dispensers. Perspex screens will also be used across the College in reception and service areas.
Due to social distancing measures, you should only visit campuses with a valid reason, such as timetabled teaching or pre-booked services. Check out when it's okay to be on campus on the visiting campuses safely page.
Hand sanitisers and multi-surface cleaning wipes
Around the College there will be hand sanitisers and multi-surface cleaning wipes for you to use, as well as plenty of hand-washing facilities.
You should keep at least two metres apart from other people. If you need to be in closer proximity, you should still stay more than one metre apart and it will be essential you adopt additional mitigating measures, such as wearing a face covering or a face visor, depending on where you are within campus. There will be clear signage systems and protocols to ensure you can go about your business while maintaining social distancing and good hygiene.
On our campuses, wearing a face covering is essential in most locations. Face coverings should cover both your mouth and nose.
Putting your face covering on and taking it off when moving between spaces adds the risk of touching your face - so if you happen to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, there is the potential for you to contaminate surfaces. Washing your hands or using hand sanitiser immediately after handling your face covering is therefore necessary.
When it’s essential to wear a face covering:
- Walking around campus - especially when transiting between buildings
- Cafes and welfare spaces
- Lecture theatres
- Teaching rooms
- Move Imperial facilities
- Halls of residence
- Travelling on public transport
- In shops
When it's not essential to wear a face covering:
Only when you are able to maintain social distancing of at least two metres. This might include:
- When leaving our campuses
- Going outside for a break and maintaining social distancing of at least two metres
- Laboratories (local arrangements for personal protective equipment will be in place. If you wear a face covering, it must be a disposable type)
- Workshops (local arrangements will be in place)
- Offices - when you can maintain social distancing of at least two metres, if you can't you must wear a face covering.
For laboratories and other high-risk areas please refer to the local risk assessments for exact requirements and whether the use of a face covering is required. Face coverings are not personal protective equipment.
Off campus, government guidelines stipulate where you should wear a face covering. You can find the current government guidelines on wearing face coverings on their website.
Visors and face coverings
You may be required to wear a face visor in some places in addition to a face covering. The most likely places are in teaching rooms if it proves difficult to maintain a distance of two metres. Your department will provide face visors and will advise you of when it’s necessary to wear one.
Code of Conduct
The College's Code of Conduct sets out the behaviours everyone should follow on all College premises to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You must follow this Code alongside any other health and safety information provided by the College. You can read the Code on the dedicated webpage.
In line with official government guidance, we will not be introducing mass routine temperature checking because this does not detect the asymptomatic carrier. However, should you feel COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, you will have access to testing and you should follow the procedures to self isolate (see below).
As part of the measures we are putting in place to ensure residents are able to comfortably adhere to social distancing guidelines. A range of measures are being developed to ensure that residents are safe, secure and can comfortably adhere to social distancing guidelines. This will include staggered arrival times, clear self-isolation procedures, and amendments to corridor and communal space usage. For more information please visit our accommodation webpages.
Self-isolation or quarantine arrangements
Self-isolation on arrival
If you are travelling from certain countries you may be required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in the UK. Please refer to the UK Government guidance on this requirement. More COVID-19 guidance and advice for international students can be found on the UKCISA website. We strongly recommend that you arrange to bring with you a credit / debit card that you can use when you arrive in the UK.
Living in halls? If it is necessary for you to self-isolate when you arrive - and you will be living in our halls of residence - you will be able to arrive to halls up to two weeks before the start of term, at no extra cost. Visit the self-isolating in halls page on the website.
Living in private accommodation? If you will be living in private accommodation, you will need to ensure that you are able to self-isolate effectively should it be necessary. You can find out more information by visiting the FAQs page on our website about COVID-19 and living in private accommodation. The College provides support for students, check out the Student Support Zone pages.
Self-isolation due to contact tracing, displaying symptoms, or a positive COVID-19 test
Please refer to the advice on the College's COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub (CCT Hub) webpage.
Frequently asked questions
What access to healthcare facilities are there?
We will make sure that you have access to the services and support that you need to remain healthy, happy and to be a success. You can find out more about our support services on our website
Will I be able to visit a doctor?
If you have moved away from home to take up your place at Imperial you will need to register with a new doctor (also known as a General Practitioner or GP) so that you can access NHS healthcare. It’s important that you register with a doctor soon after you arrive – don’t wait until you are sick, as this could delay your access to treatment.
If you’re living in halls of residence, your hall will provide you with a registration form when you move in. For more information, visit the ‘your health’ web pages on the College website.
The National Health Service also provides advice on how to access services on their website.
If possible, before you arrive at Imperial, you should ensure you are fully vaccinated against:
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – 2 injections 3 months apart should give lifelong protection
- Meningitis ACWY – a single injection is given to those under 25 years, who are attending university for the first time
- Flu - if you are in an at-risk group
If it is not possible to get these vaccinations before you arrive, Imperial College Health Centre will be running vaccination clinics around the start of term. The vaccines are given free of charge for those who are in the at-risk groups.
Will I be able to visit a dentist?
Imperial provides dental services on our South Kensington Campus. Dental services have resumed, with added precautions. For more information, visit the ‘your health’ webpages.