Dear Colleagues,

As the number of cases of COVID-19 rises around the world, we are expecting to have cases closer to home. Our objective is to keep the College open making sure that everyone is cared for while we continue our education and research, unless we are directed to close by the government. We are preparing our response and communications accordingly. 

Yesterday, the UK Chief Medical Officer said that the plan to combat COVID-19 was moving from the first ‘contain’ stage to the secondary ‘delay’ stage. This change in strategy means that the focus shifts to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in order to limit its impact on the public and healthcare resources. 

We are working with the Deans, Faculty Operating Officers and Heads of Department, as well as the Incident Management Group on the policies we will need at local level to deliver our objective given the move to the ‘delay’ stage.  These policies are listed below. We may amend these as the situation develops, in which case we will let you know as part of our regular communication. Please continue to refer to our website for updated information.

Flexible working

  • Our current flexible working policy remains in place and you should discuss and agree any changes to your working arrangements with your line manager.


  • If you are told to self-isolate by a healthcare professional or you have returned from a country where you are required to self-isolate in accordance with current Public Health England advice, then this can be treated as sickness absence. If you are not unwell during self-isolation, the expectation is that you will work remotely where possible and there is no need to invoke the sickness absence policy.
  • The College’s sickness absence policy will remain in force, but the College will not enact any reduction in pay that is resultant from sickness absence related to Coronavirus.


  • Exams will continue as planned unless the government takes measures that would make this impossible.
  • Some assessments may be done in alternative ways or at alternative venues. Registry, working with Faculties, is planning options to be ready when needed.
  • We will not be running on-line exams other than those already planned.

Student Support

  • We will continue to support students as normal, adjusting procedures as need be due to staff availability.
  • Halls of residence will remain open according to the usual schedule.


  • Events will continue as planned unless the government bans large gatherings or they cannot run due to poor attendance caused by Covid-19.


  • We will follow Public Health England and Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice.

Information and Communication Technologies

  • We will use our existing IT to enable home working.
  • The emphasis will be on standardised systems that can be scaled up quickly and stably, in the most cost-effective way.
  • Staff and students should test out their remote working systems now to identify any issues.

We appreciate the support, camaraderie and collaborative spirit we are seeing throughout our community. If you have comments or ideas, please contact us at

Best wishes

Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost