COVID-19 Update from the Principal, Hilary Term 2021

19th January 2021

Dear members and friends of St Hilda’s,

I would like to wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year.

Our plans for the start of Hilary Term changed following the announcement of the national lockdown on Tuesday 5 January 2021. While University and college buildings will remain open for on-site working and research, teaching and learning will need to take place online for the time being, apart from the courses outlined in government guidance where in-person teaching is permitted.

Our students will have received the latest information from the Dean. The majority have been advised not to return until at least mid-February. Despite these challenges, we are continuing to work to deliver world-class teaching and research with global benefits.

At present, staff presence on the College site is at the minimum level necessary to provide essential services and keep core operations running. All staff members who are able to work from home are doing so. We are making every effort to protect those staff who must come into College to work and support the students who are in residence. Any students living in private accommodation who chose to return to Oxford should not be coming into College. College services will be largely closed.

  •  All teaching is online
  • The Library will be closed to all undergraduates, but there will be a scanning service and delivery of physical resources, bookable via this link.
  • The Dining Hall is closed for the service of food as of Tuesday 12th January. We are providing a pre-ordered collection service for lunch as an alternative. Orders for lunch should be placed though UPAY in the ‘Order Ahead’ section. The system will allow for orders to be placed up to three days ahead. Orders cannot be placed on the same day. The system is also set for delivery, for students only. Staff members should collect their orders. Please contact our Catering Manager, Garry Luke, if you have any problems with this.
  • All public spaces will be closed, including the JCR, MCR, gym and Jacqueline du Pré Music Building.

The latest updates for staff and students can be found on the University’s website.

We have the good news that the first two vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, had received MHRA Regulation 174 authorisation by the beginning of this year. You can find out more about both in the independent report, Optimising the COVID-19 vaccination programme for maximum short-term impact, published on 6 January 2021 on www.gov.uk. We also heard that the UK National Health Service began the rollout of the Oxford / AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, with patients at the Oxford University NHS Hospitals Trust becoming the first to receive it, on 4 January.

The news has recently broken that a COVID-19 vaccine made by US company, Moderna, has become the third to be approved for use in the UK, so we have reason to hope that control of the pandemic is within our grasp, and that we can look forward to a return to a more balanced life in the future.

I am very sorry not to see you at St Hilda’s to begin Hilary Term. However, life here will continue and we will be organising more virtual events to connect our members and friends with College. Please check our website regularly for the latest information about our plans. The first of our events, Dressed for War: The Story of Vogue, took place on 8 January. This was a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in writing for TV, fashion, journalism, popular biography and effective blogging to learn from two members of our community, Royal Literary Fellow, Julie Summers, and fashion and culture writer and our recent alumna, Rosalind Jana. If you missed it or would like to watch again, Dressed for War is available here.

I am aware that this is a very anxious and stressful time for many members of our community. I hope that everyone stays well and I look forward to a time when we can return to College safely to pursue our mission of academic excellence.

With all good wishes to you and your families,

Professor Sir Gordon Duff

Principal, St Hilda’s College