College COVID-19 status and response
Imperial College London is home to 17,000 students and 8,000 staff in West London. The College is acting on the advice of London Coronavirus Response Cell, Public Health England as well as the UK Government, NHS and World Health Organisation. Our in-house safety experts, academic leaders in infectious diseases and other related fields are involved in managing our response to coronavirus (COVID-19) within our community.
For information about the number of positive COVID-19 tests amongst our students and staff visit the COVID-19 testing data page.
Updated 8 January 2021
England is now in a national lockdown.
Under the lockdown rules, university teaching will remain online until mid-February for all except a few medical and healthcare-related degree programmes. The College is working hard to establish the implications for each programme, building on the multi-mode delivery that we already have in place. We are also seeking clarification from the UK government on the wider impact of these changes on our community.
Researchers and research students who cannot continue to undertake their research from home and require access to laboratories for their work can return to campus, following agreement from their supervisor and/or department if not already secured.
FAQs about the spring term and national lockdown for students and staff
Which programmes will continue to be taught in-person or in multi-mode between now and mid-February?
The government is prioritising the return of a limited number of students studying certain subjects. These subjects have been identified as those related to vital public sector roles in health and social care and education. You can read the letter from the government’s Universities Minister to students [pdf] which predates the lockdown announcement but clarifies the type of programmes that are exempt from the nationwide move to remote learning.
If you are registered on a programme that will require in-person attendance, or you are supporting the delivery of such a programme, your department will contact you directly to discuss how your learning or teaching will continue.
I am required to attend campus - do I need to book a COVID-19 test before I travel back to London?
If you’re travelling within the UK, you do not need to book a test before you travel.
If you’re travelling from overseas, the government has announced that from 18 January all international arrivals to England, including UK nationals, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. Passengers arriving by ship, plane or train will have to take a test up to three days before departure and provide evidence of a negative result before they travel.
This applies to all passengers, including those travelling from a travel corridor country, other than those on a very short list of exemptions, and is in addition to existing self-isolation requirements. View the full government guidance.
I am required to attend campus - is there anything I need to do before I re-start activities?
The College has established a gold standard testing service which can detect COVID-19 including the new variant. Whilst rates of infection in London are high, regular testing is essential for all staff and students who are required to attend campus during the lockdown and for all students living in halls.
You are expected to take a test when you return to campus, and minimise social contact until a negative test result has been confirmed. If you are travelling to England from a location outside the travel corridor, you will need to self-isolate when you arrive.
There is an exception to this: if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should NOT book another test during your isolation period or for 90 days after the positive test unless you develop new COVID-19 symptoms. This is because the PCR test can remain positive (due to fragments of inactive virus) for up to 90 days after infection. This does not mean that you are still infectious, so once any fever has settled and you have completed the required isolation period you can attend campus.
Your safety remains our highest priority. Once on campus you should continue to follow the longstanding safety guidelines you have been following for the past year. You can remind yourself of these on the Safety webpages.
I have booked a journey to return to London from elsewhere in the UK/abroad. What should I do?
The government has indicated that you should delay your physical return to College if your travel arrangements can be rearranged without undue financial costs to you. However, it is understood this may not be possible for some students. Essentially, you are encouraged to remain in your vacation accommodation until your face-to-face teaching resumes unless your circumstances require you to return to your term-time address.
I'm a staff member who needs to travel to work - what guidance is there?
With the start of the new year and another lockdown, we have reviewed how we can best support the members of our community who are working and studying on campus.
We are committed to delivering an environment that is as safe as possible and to support the choices that people make travelling to College premises.
As part of this, we have reviewed our guidance for managers and staff who are working or returning to work at College premises during COVID-19 [PDF] and produced new guidance for line managers about travelling to campuses during lockdown [PDF].
You can also view our webpage to access this guidance and support.
Can I return to halls?
Our halls remain open but, unless you are required to return to College in person for face-to-face education or to carry out research that cannot be done at home, or you have welfare issues, you should remain where you are wherever possible.
If you return you should book a test on your return and receive a negative result before resuming any on-campus activity. Tests are available to book 15 days in advance.
I am living in halls of residence, what does the lockdown mean for me?
The national lockdown applies to students in halls too. You can view the full guidance on the government website.
In summary, you must not leave, or be outside of your halls of residence except where necessary e.g. for exercise and buying food.
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with. You will have been informed what constitutes your ‘household’ when you first moved into your halls. If in doubt, please contact your hall warden. Further information is available on our Accommodation webpages.
In all instances you should only use your own shared kitchen and bathroom. You may not visit residents in other parts of the building who form another ‘household’ zone. By following these rules, you will be helping to minimise transmission of the virus.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not living in your household.
If you are a student on a course that does not require you to return to campus for the duration of the lockdown, you will not be expected to pay rent for the time you’re away from your hall. You will have been contacted directly about this by Campus Services. Read more on our halls webpages.
Will there be access to study spaces on our campuses?
The new lockdown aims to reduce footfall on our campuses and reduce any unnecessary points of contact which could help transmit the virus.
If you cannot study in your accommodation, or you require additional support due to a medical or physical condition, the College will continue to provide study spaces. This also applies to commuter students who should only access university resources if they have inadequate study spaces or require additional support.
Subject to government restrictions, the College libraries will remain open, as well as designated departmental study spaces.
What services will be available on our campuses?
A reduced catering service will be provided on the South Kensington, Hammersmith and Charing Cross Campuses.
The Essentials Convenience Store will be open.
All gyms will remain closed for the duration of the lockdown and no training will be allowed at any Move Imperial facility. Competitive sports are currently suspended until further notice. Digital resources are available as part of the MoveFromHome campaign.
College libraries will remain open, including the Central Library on South Kensington Campus.
Shuttle buses between Hammersmith Hospital, White City and South Kensington Campuses will be running at a reduced level.
The Early Years Education Centre remains open and parents should continue to follow the local guidance provided to them.
How will the national lockdown impact my home life?
You can view the full guidance on the government website.
In summary, you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary e.g. for exercise and buying food.
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not living in your household.
When will the lockdown end?
Transmission of the virus needs to slow down across England for the UK government to lift restrictions on daily life.
As during previous lockdowns, the government will regularly review the need for restrictions on certain activities. The College will inform our community of any changes to the guidelines staff and students must follow as and when these decisions are made.