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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 what to do in situations such as feeling unwell, travelling, isolating or getting tested. Many of these Do’s and Don’ts are a matter of UK law 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, whatever your situation.

It is important to keep up with latest guidance so there are useful Related Links and External Links on the right. The University has published its plans for the academic year 2021-22, updates its wider COVID-19 communications and runs a comprehensive Stay Safe Cambridge Uni campaign for students. These, together with the UK Government pages are key points of information.

We encourage all members of our community to get fully vaccinated, to test regularly, either via the University’s Asymptomatic Testing Programme, the UK government lateral flow testing, or the University’s Lateral Flow Programme. And of course please take action (see below) if you are feeling unwell or develop symptoms.

Feeling unwell

What to do

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms, you have been alerted that you are a contact, or you have tested positive for COVID-19 via a Lateral Flow or PCR test, you must: 

  1. Return immediately to your accommodation and self-isolate – see Isolating section below.
  2. Let the Porters know that you are self-isolating by calling 01223 330484 or  07917 535806.
  3. Household members may also need to isolatewe 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 – see the Testing drop-down section below.
  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. 

Please note that lateral flow tests are only suitable for individuals who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop any symptoms, even if they are only mild, it is important that you self-isolate and take a PCR test, even if your lateral flow test is negative and you are fully vaccinated.

What happens next

The Porters will alert the College COVID Management team who will get in touch to discuss your needs and ensure you are supported, including meal deliveries and welfare checks.

  • 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).
  • 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 so we can make the necessary arrangements, and then continue your self-isolation. 
  • If you receive a negative test for COVID-19 whilst in isolation please inform the Porters so we can take 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 other relevant health information from the National Health Service (NHS) including symptoms
  • For wellbeing advice and sources of support see the Welfare section on this page.


Current useful links

Asymptomatic testing 

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. In combination with contact tracing and symptomatic testing, the programme is helping to reduce risk to students, staff and the community.

Participating students use a swab to take a sample from their nose and throat, and swabs are pooled by household. If a pooled screening test is positive, students in that household are 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. Household and other contacts may be required to isolate too, in certain circumstances.

High levels of participation have played an key part in keeping Cambridge students safe and keeping colleges open.

Symptomatic testing

The University also offers symptomatic PCR swab tests to students, University and College staff, certain defined affiliates, and individuals who live in a household with University or College staff or students, but who are not themselves staff or students. These are available if you have major or minor symptoms.

Lateral Flow testing

In addition to the asymptomatic testing programme, and the provision of symptomatic testing, you can also test regularly for COVID-19 through the University’s Lateral Flow Programme or UK government lateral flow testing. Please note that lateral flow tests are requested before attending College events but are not a suitable testing option if you have symptoms – in this case a PCR test should be arranged.

Testing – in brief

  • Testing kits should be collected from the Porters’ Lodge on the right day
  • Testing kits for students in private accommodation should be collected on Sundays and dropped off on Mondays at one of the drop-boxes by 1.30pm.
  • Testing kits for students in College accommodation (including college-owned/managed houses) should be collected on Mondays and dropped off at the Porters’ Lodge on Tuesdays by 12 midday.
  • To find out more about the University’s weekly asymptomatic screening programme for COVID-19, see here and if you haven’t signed up yet, please do join!
  • You can get a symptomatic University PCR test for major and minor symptoms – see here for further details.
  • Students who are not eligible for the asymptomatic screening programme are encouraged to take (free) twice-weekly lateral flow tests (LFTs) – see here.
  • Full details of 2021 Michaelmas Term testing arrangements are here

Read more – specifics

Read more – general


Isolation rules are subject to change so please check online to keep up to date with the most recent UK guidance. Note the following:

If you are isolating for any of these reasons, please inform the Porters of your situation by calling 01223 330484 or  07917 535806 so that arrangements can be made to support you.

For clarity

  • Self-isolation 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. We can make arrangements for safe access to outside space for fresh air, exercise and wellbeing reasons. Please email covid.admin@hughes.cam.ac.uk to discuss this.
  • Household-isolation is required under certain circumstances (dependent, for example, on your vaccination status) if your housemate develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID, or if you’ve been alerted that a contact has tested positive. This means you must stay within your household (house, flat or ‘landing’ with shared kitchen or bathroom facilities) and may not leave until the isolation period is over. We will support you as required.
  • Similarly, if you have to quarantine on your arrival at or return to Hughes Hall we are here to support you too. Quarantine (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.

How long to self-isolate

If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you did not have symptoms) and the next ten full days. You may need to self-isolate for longer if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away. However, you may be able to shorten your isolation period to seven days after two negative lateral flow tests. Read more about self isolation and how long to self-isolate.


Whether you are isolating or quarantining, you may want to make arrangements for food deliveries from the College catering team. These need to be made in advance – you should receive an email about activating the Upay Quarantine/Self-isolation system allowing you to order food from our Dining Hall which will be delivered to your room. You can order meals in advance and check the menus for this and next week on www.upay.co.uk, or via the Upay app on your mobile phone. You will be charged for the food you order through your Upay account so please check your balance and ensure you have loaded up sufficient funds.

Please send us an email to catering@hughes.cam.ac.uk if you need food or other essentials urgently, or if you need further assistance or advice. We are here to support you – see the Welfare section on this page.

To order on Upay

  1. You will see a Documents section where you can find the menus for the coming weeks. Please, browse the menus to decide what meals would you like to receive each day.
  2. Go to ‘Order From Self-Isolation/Quarantine’
  3. Now you can start placing your orders. You will have to create a different order for each lunch or brunch. We deliver once a day around lunch time. You can add to your main lunch time orders any sandwiches, yoghurts, fruit or other cold food that you would like to eat in the evening.
  4. You will find a section called Essentials. In that section you can buy products like bottled water, milk, juice, cereal, toilet rolls. The Essentials orders should be placed one day in advance before 12pm.
  5. You will be able to pay for each order during the process using your Upay balance on your University Card or with Debit/Credit Card. It may be easier to top up your University Card via Upay so you do not have to give card details each time.
  6. The system will send a confirmation email to you for every order that you complete.

For information on supporting your wellbeing whilst isolating, see the Welfare drop-down section below.

Being prepared

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 a comprehensive summary of wellbeing support and other useful links available to Hughes Hall students, please see the COVID wellbeing page and the links to further help, below:

  • 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 – 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.
  • We are here to support you. Reach out if you need help or advice.


Hughes Hall students have found themselves in many different personal situations as a result of the pandemic so we understand you may have questions or concerns about finances. We hold a weekly Student Wellbeing and Finance Meeting to ensure we can offer timely and appropriate support to our students.

If you would like to apply for hardship support, including for unexpected costs you have incurred as a result of the pandemic, please discuss this with your Tutor who can help you apply to the College for support, or advise on other sources of help. There is also more general information about how we can support those with financial hardship on our website.

The UK government also has hardship support arrangements available to UK citizens or individuals with residency rights (for example, international students who possess a student visa). Please see their website for further information including eligibility criteria.


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 vaccinations and booster appointments on the NHS website. Walk-in clinics are available without a booking and information about this is available online. The appointments can be in different locations so that you can book the location most convenient for you for each dose.

Vaccinated abroad

International students who have been fully vaccinated abroad with a vaccine that is not currently used in the UK may be advised to have a booster dose of one of the licensed UK vaccines. Please see Vaccine Interchangeability Guidelines for more information, and note:

Expectations at College

UPDATE: the UK government’s most recent guidance, adopted by the University, means that at Hughes Hall we are all expected to wear a face covering (if not exempt) in communal areas such as supervision rooms, study spaces, foyers, corridors and the Library. Isolation rules are subject to recent change – see the Isolation section for details.

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 current guidance and expectations in and around College:

  • 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 being supported at College and enable distancing and good ventilation
  • we have returned to 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 required (if not exempt) in communal areas 
  • All members of our community are expected to test regularly (via the asymptomatic programme and/or lateral flow testing) especially if attending College events.

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

Travel and quarantining

The rules about travelling to and from the UK are subject to regular change so it is best to check the guidance yourself although we are here to help you. Depending on where you are going, or where you are coming from, rules differ regarding testing, vaccination status and quarantine requirements.

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.

The UK government has hardship support arrangements available to UK citizens or individuals with residency rights, and the College also provides hardship support, including for some quarantine-related costs. See the Hardship section on this page for further information.

Other sources of information


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 05.01.22