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COVID information

Supporting our students and keeping our community safe

Hughes Hall is committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of its students, staff and seniors. At the heart of our efforts is a determination to rebuild our community and provide the best possible student experience.

This page summarises how we are helping to keep our community as safe as possible and what to do in specific situations such as feeling unwell, travelling, isolating or getting tested. Many of these Do’s and Don’ts are a matter of UK law, Public Health England guidance, or University requirement. For any concerns or questions please speak to your tutor or email covid.admin@hughes.cam.ac.uk. Everyone’s situation is different and we are here to support all of our students, wherever you are.

It is important we all keep up with latest guidance so there are a number of useful Related Links and External Links on the right of this page. The university regularly updates its COVID-19 communications and runs a Stay Safe Cambridge Uni campaign for students. These, together with the UK Government pages are key points of information.

Summer 2021 has seen the removal of most legal restrictions in the UK however we remain mindful of the needs of our students in the widest sense. We encourage all members of our community to get fully vaccinated, to test regularly, either via the University’s Asymptomatic Testing Programme if you are eligible, or via the UK government lateral flow testing, or the University’s Lateral Flow Testing Programme. And of course please take action and see below if you are feeling unwell or develop symptoms.

Feeling unwell

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptomsor you have tested positive for COVID-19 via a Lateral Flow or PCR test, this page summarises the other steps you must take which are also set out here: 

  1. Return immediately to your accommodation and self-isolate.
  2. Let the Porters know that you are self-isolating by calling 01223 330484 or  07917 535806.
  3. Household members may also need to isolate depending on their vaccination status – we will let them know but you can too.
  4. If you haven’t yet taken a PCR test do so either through the University Testing Process or an NHS-approved test.
  5. Complete the University’s COVID-19 monitoring form.
  6. Read the support and guidance from the College and the University including accessing remote learning and welfare support.
  7. If you will miss face-to-face teaching let your department and supervisor know that you are self-isolating. 

The Porters will alert the College COVID Management team who will discuss your needs and ensure the support you need such as regular meal deliveries and welfare checks is in place. You are required to self-isolate (stay in your own room) whilst you await your test results. Your household members may also be required to isolate as a household (stay in the flat / shared area) depending on their vaccination status. 

If you receive a positive test for COVID-19 subsequently (or at any other time) you must stay in your room and inform the Porters (01223 330484 or 07917 535 806) so we can make the necessary arrangements and then continue your self-isolation. You will receive full information and support from the University and the College. 

If you receive a negative test for COVID-19 whilst in isolation please inform the Porters (01223 330484 or 07917 535 806) so we can take the necessary actions, including the ending of isolation arrangements. 

In both situations, the University’s COVID-19 monitoring form should be updated accordingly. 

Further information 

  • If you have concerns about your symptoms contact NHS 111 and follow their advice.
  • For further NHS information about isolating. 
  • As regards wellbeing needs, the University signposts to a great deal of help here and there is further information on other available to you.
  • For other relevant health information from the National Health Service (NHS) including symptoms 
  • There is specific COVID Wellbeing support and more general welfare advice available on our website; the University’s student support section is here plus support from the University Counselling Service.
  • The Stay Safe Cambridge Uni campaign has comprehensive information regarding all aspects of COVID-19 and how the University is responding. 
  • For regularly updated information regarding the national COVID-19 situation from the UK Government. 
  • A list of COVID contacts.

Additional health and wellbeing help 

Isolating can be stressful and difficult, but it is important that you follow guidance to avoid placing others at risk. If you would like more information, or to speak to someone about how you are feeling, our college counsellor Isha Mehta runs drop-in sessions on a Wednesday afternoon (booking via Moodle here ) and the College Nurse Maria Gloag is running clinics bookable via her Moodle page.

We are here to support you and working with the MCR student body to ensure you are looked after. The MCR has details of the quarantine support calls in their recent newsletter. Reach out if you need help or advice.


Asymptomatic testing programme

We strongly encourage our students to continue participating in the University’s COVID-19 asymptomatic screening programme which identifies those with asymptomatic infection to avoid transmission to others.

Since Michaelmas Term 2020, the University has offered all students living in College accommodation and the majority of students living in private accommodation a weekly PCR test for infection with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, even if they show no symptoms. In combination with contact tracing and the University’s testing facilities for symptomatic students and staff, the programme is part of a proactive approach to reducing the risk to students, staff and the community.

In practice, participating students use a swab to take a sample from their nose and throat. Swabs are then pooled by household enabling the University to greatly reduce the number of PCR tests required. If a pooled screening test is positive, students in that household are informed the following morning and offered individual PCR tests to confirm the positive result. Students with positive individual confirmatory tests are then supported in following national guidance on self-isolation. Their household and other contacts are not required to self-isolate, provided they are fully vaccinated.

Participation in the programme is voluntary, but we encourage everyone to take part. The vast majority (almost 90%!) of students in College accommodation (as well as many in private accommodation) agreed to participate during the 2020-21 academic year. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do join themHigh levels of participation has played an key part in keeping Cambridge students safe. 

Return to Cambridge tests

Please try to be tested as soon as possible, and within 4 days of returning to Cambridge. You should use the pooled testing where possible, but you may need a specific Return to Cambridge test depending on the day you arrive.  

  • Arriving before Thursday 23 September: please do a ‘Return to Cambridge’ test on the next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday  
  • Between Friday 24 September and Monday 27 September: please use the pooled testing unless you are not eligible – in which case do a ‘Return to Cambridge’ test on Monday 27 or Tuesday 28th September 
  • Arriving on Tuesday 28 September: please do a ‘Return to Cambridge’ test on Wednesday 29 September  
  • Arriving on Wednesday 29 September: please do a ‘Return to Cambridge’ test on Thursday 30 September  
  • Arriving on Thursday 30 September: please do your ‘Return to Cambridge’ test on Friday 1 October  

You can collect the tests and testing instructions leaflets from the Porters’ Lodge. Note they need to be returned to a drop box (not the Porters’ Lodge) by 13.30pm on the day of the test. 

Students living in private accommodation – groups of students in private accommodation can now sign up here for testing. Weekly pooled testing starts on Monday 27th September.

Students living in college accommodation – weekly pooled testing starts on Tuesday 28th September.

Read more

Expectations at College

There are minimal restrictions now across the UK. Hughes Hall, along with the University and other colleges, is reflecting these freedoms and rebuilding its community whilst taking a commonsense approach to safety in certain situations and remaining respectful of all members of our community who live, work and study at College.

Most recent government advice on staying safe and helping to prevent the spread of COVID is available on the government website and emphasises personal responsibility, community courtesy and minimising risk for ourselves and those around us – through vaccination, meeting outside where possible, opening windows, using masks in crowded or enclosed spaces, getting tested, maintaining hygiene, respecting others’ space and isolating when required. We would echo this.

Please note the guidance and expectations in and around College:

  • the return of students to collegiate Cambridge and the resumption of in-person teaching
  • all current members of our community are welcome in College, as are their guests (visitors to sign in with Porters)
  • student events and activities are encouraged at College and will enable distancing and good ventilation
  • the provision of a full catering service as well as tailored support for those isolating
  • one-way systems and specific room capacity limits have been removed (though certain events may carry limits)
  • face coverings are not mandated inside, eg, offices, library, or dining hall (but may be preferred and requested).

For any concerns or questions please email covid.admin@hughes.cam.ac.uk.

Travel and quarantining

Please take a PCR or Lateral Flow test 3-4 days before you travel, as well as on your day of travel (before leaving for Cambridge) if possible. See the Testing section above for further information on the different kinds of testing available and how to access these.

Useful links

The rules about travelling to the UK are subject to change so it is best to check the guidance yourself although we are here to help you. Here are some useful links:

Please note that for regulatory reasons, it is not possible for test results from University of Cambridge programmes to be used for travel purposes.


For a comprehensive summary of wellbeing support and other useful links available to Hughes Hall students, please see the COVID wellbeing page.

Also, the University signposts to a great deal of COVID-19 wellbeing support here and here. The Cambridge Student Wellbeing Pages are available here and the University’s Counselling Service can be accessed here. Check out the links to see what might work best for you, as well as the Hughes Hall more general welfare page.

If you are worried you may have symptoms of COVID-19 visit here, follow the steps here, and inform the Porters (01223 330484 or 07917 535806). Full details of what to do are available in the ‘Feeling unwell’ section above.

Your main point of contact in the UK for other (non-COVID) specialised help or treatment is your General Practitioner (GP). If you haven’t already registered with a local GP, please do – see how to here.

We have a College Nurse who works part-time – you can make an appointment with Maria to discuss your health or wellbeing concerns here or by email. Our College Counsellor, Isha Mehta, offers sessions for students which can be booked via the Moodle Booking system here.


Please note that the University has secured vaccination provision for the beginning of term:

  • 3, 9, 10 October 2021, 10-6pm at the Guildhall – a temporary vaccination centre for students
  • 5 October ‘Vaccinators on Tour’ (bus) will attend Freshers Fair on Parker’s Piece from 9-6pm

Vaccination is a crucial element of the battle against COVID and as such we strongly encourage you to get fully vaccinated. We are here to support you in this – there is lots of information to help you find out how and where, including information on local walk-in clinics and The Vaccinators in Cambridgeshire.

You can book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments on the NHS website. Walk-in clinics are available without a booking and information about this is available online. Bookings can be made on the NHS website for both the first and second doses of the vaccine. The two appointments can be in different locations so that you can book the location most convenient for you for each dose. Talk to your GP is you have been vaccinated abroad and would like to find out more about getting additional vaccinations in the UK. You can find our about registering with a UK GP here.

More information from the NHS on vaccines for students is available in this information sheet.


Hughes Hall students have found themselves in many different personal situations, and many different places, as a result of the pandemic. As such, we understand some have questions about accommodation arrangements and rent, or concerns about finances. We have established a weekly Student Wellbeing and Finance Meeting to ensure we can offer timely and appropriate support to our students. There is more general information about how we can support those with financial hardship on our website.

If you have been unable to return to your accommodation due to the pandemic and have informed the college of your situation then you will not be charged rent. Please be reassured that having belongings still in your room isn’t directly affecting whether you are charged rent or not.

If you would like to apply for hardship support for unexpected costs you have incurred as a result of the pandemic, including those relating to rent, technological requirements, quarantine, and isolation please discuss this with your Tutor who can help you apply to the College’s weekly Student Welfare and Finance Meeting for support, or advise on other sources of help.

Being prepared for isolation

Given the current situation and the possibility of our students having to isolate at some point, here is a list of items you may want to have ready:

  • A first aid kit for minor incidents
  • Spare face coverings, gloves, hand sanitiser/soap
  • Clothing, bedding and towels sufficient for a ten-day cycle between washes
  • At least a ten-day supply of essential items, e.g. prescription medicines, contact lenses/solution, batteries, sanitary products
  • A list of emergency contact telephone numbers (including on paper) – college, local, family
  • Non-perishable foods, e.g. breakfast cereals, snacks, long-life milk
  • A thermometer

Please also make sure your address and phone number are up to date in CamSIS.

For clarity

Quarantine (when we use the term in a COVID-context) refers to the period you are required to remain in your room, or another specific location, when you arrive from a country that the UK Government has determined requires such action. We will support you during this time.

Self-isolation (as a result of symptoms or a positive test result) means you cannot leave your room (except to use bathroom facilities if you are not in an en-suite room). We will ensure food is delivered to you and provide any essentials and other support. You are unable to socialise with your housemates until the isolation period is over.

Other sources of information

Applicants for postgraduate study should check the Graduate Admissions Office coronavirus advice for the most up to date guidance. Similarly, applicants for undergraduate study should check the Undergraduate  coronavirus advice.

Guidance on support for students with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, or with disabilities impacted by COVID-related social distancing measures is available here.

Above all else, thank you. For conducting yourselves thoughtfully in and around College. For continuing to show consideration to your fellow students, and others in our community. For isolating correctly when required to. And for being part of Hughes Hall, despite everything. We are delighted to have you with us.

We understand everyone’s situation is different. If you have any concerns please speak to your Tutor or email covid.admin@hughes.cam.ac.uk.

Updated 16.09.21