COVID-19 College Code of Conduct
Last revised: 5 November 2020
COVID-19 (the disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) is a highly contagious disease spread by aerosol / droplet contact. The Magdalene community as a whole has a social responsibility for the health and wellbeing of everyone within the College as well as others and the functioning of the College as a whole. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to provide guidance to members of the College in respect of what is expected of them to minimise the risk of COVID-19.
The College recognises that this must be an incredibly difficult time to be a student at University. Restrictions have negatively impacted just about every aspect of the academic and social life that is at the core of the University experience. Their nature, scope and duration continue to put huge strain on everyone- students and staff. The College is genuinely sorry about the hardship that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing all of our members. The overwhelming motivation is to provide a framework for facilitating College activities as safely as possible.
The College faces a fundamental difficulty in deciding on how to respond because it is the nature of outbreaks of diseases such as COVID-19 that they can get out of hand and be impossible to control extremely rapidly (within days). So the College has adopted a cautious approach in the first instance. However, everyone at Magdalene should rest assured that the College is absolutely committed to easing restrictions as soon as we have evidence that is safe to do so (within any constraints imposed by Government or the wider University).
Whilst most cases of COVID-19 get better without treatment or long-term harm, it is highly contagious and severe infections can be life-threatening. It is also likely that a number of College members, including students, may be more vulnerable to severe illness (for example as a result of pre-existing medical conditions). It is also emerging that COVID-19 can have long-term and sometimes quite debilitating effects on the young too.
The pandemic has disrupted almost all aspects of life globally. In the face of this unprecedented situation, the College aims to try to minimise disruption and facilitate activities as far as possible subject to the following overarching principles:
● Protecting individual health and wellbeing
● Protecting the health and wellbeing of others
● Protecting the Cambridge University community / protecting Cambridge as a city
● providing a safe environment for work and for study
The College has set up a COVID-19 Committee to oversee all aspects of health and wellbeing policy related to the pandemic. The College COVID-19 Officer, a member of the COVID-19 Committee, will provide a point of contact for advice and guidance in relation to College policy and individual behaviour as well as ensuring that all College members behave in a way that promotes safety. The COVID-19 Officer may be contacted at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The COVID-19 situation is likely to be dynamic and unpredictable with many factors potentially changing over time (including the occurrence of a ‘second wave’, and changes in University or local/national government public health policy). For this reason, the College COVID-19 Code of Conduct which follows will be a ‘living document’ under continuous review by the College COVID-19 Committee. All College members must keep themselves up-to-date with changes as they occur.
Information from the University on staying safe during the pandemic is available at www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/stay-safe-cambridge-uni. An overarching principle is that students must comply with government recommendations. This document provides additional information as well as College-specific guidance, clarification and instructions as to what is additionally expected by the College.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was declared the cause of a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020. Since this date, the virus has spread to almost every country worldwide, and infected millions of people. Information about the number of coronavirus tests, cases and deaths in the UK is updated daily by the government (www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public).
The main symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection include:
· a high temperature
· a new continuous cough
· a loss or change in the sense of taste or smell (anosmia).
However, a range of non-specific symptoms can also occur such as fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain) and diarrhoea. Severity of disease varies widely between individuals, with reports of life-threatening disease occurring in all age groups and the long term effects of virus infection not yet fully known. It is also important to be aware that asymptomatic infections are relatively frequent. Therefore, individuals may be unaware that they are infectious.
SARS-CoV-2 is predominantly transmitted by contact with respiratory secretions from infected individuals. Respiratory secretions are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These infectious droplets can then cause infection if they reach the mouth, nose or eyes of a susceptible person. Infection may occur through:
● Direct person-to-person contact - i.e. an infectious person breathes droplets on you or you pick them up through physical contact with them.
● Contact with contaminated surfaces - i.e by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth.
● Aerosol transmission - i.e. by breathing in fine droplets of liquid containing virus that have been breathed out by an infectious individual (these may remain in the air for a substantial period of time especially in poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces).
It is currently unknown to what extent people who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune or how long such immunity lasts- in other words we do not know to what extent it is possible to get COVID-19 more than once.
Handwashing and hygiene
As with all infectious diseases through history, handwashing and hygiene are the mainstay of limiting outbreaks. You should wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water is perfectly adequate. When this is not practical, using hand gel with at least 70% alcohol is an alternative. In particular you should clean your hands when:
- Entering buildings, including your room,
- Before / after handling face coverings,
- After you blow your nose or cough or sneeze on your hands,
- Before handling/eating food and after coming into contact with surfaces, particularly in communal areas.
Further information on washing your hands effectively is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Regularly clean your hands.
Since the virus may survive on hard surfaces for some time, you should clean surfaces regularly, particularly if they have been used by others.
Face coverings and moving around in College / University buildings
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread by contact with droplets or aerosol (see ‘Background’ section), transmission is more likely when you are in close contact with others. You should limit movement around College, limiting contact with other people, and stay in your College household as far as this is practicable. When moving around College outside your household:
- You must wear a face covering in enclosed or communal areas and when moving around the college, even outdoors.
- You must observe social distancing unless this is impossible as described in current government advice.
- You should clean your hands frequently with soap/water or 70% alcohol gel.
- You must observe all relevant signs and social distance markings around College in relation to COVID.
When you use College communal facilities which are open for use, such as catering facilities or library facilities, you must comply with the specific guidelines which apply to the safe use of those facilities. The College has procedures in place and associated pre-booking arrangements for all communal facilities
Suitable face coverings should cover your nose and mouth, fit securely against the side of the face and be secured with ties or ear-loops. Fabric face coverings should ideally consist of at least two and preferably three layers. Disposable surgical masks are a highly effective alternative. You may have seen healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 patients using respirator masks - this is not necessary in the community. You should not use scarves / bandanas or similar items as face coverings: there is evidence to suggest that these make aerosol generation worse rather than better. Visors are not believed to be as effective and must not be considered to be an alternative to face coverings.
You must wash and dry reusable fabric face coverings (in the same way as usual laundry, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions) regularly. Disposable face coverings should be disposed of as household waste (not recycling). You should wash (or alcohol gel) your hands before putting on or after taking off a face covering. You should change your face covering if it becomes damp.
You should regard your face covering as contaminated and avoid touching it as much as possible (it is best to handle it by the straps). The neck is an area which is commonly contaminated with virus- therefore you should not wear your face covering over your neck.
The Government has announced a national partial lock-down (‘circuit breaker’). Unfortunately from Thursday 5th November 2020 no social meetings are permitted indoors except between members of the same household. Outdoors, you may mix with your own household OR you may, on your own, meet with one person from another household (i.e. a maximum group of only two and socially distancing applies). The Government has made failure to observe this limit a criminal offence.
This replaces the previous legislated ‘rule of six’ (i.e. that you must not meet with other people, including other students, in social gatherings of more than six, whether inside or outside, and whether on College premises or elsewhere). This ‘circuit breaker’ is intended to be a temporary measure to slow the rate of transmission which is currently rising rapidly and overwhelming the NHS: It is expected to remain in force for one month (i.e. at least until 2nd December 2020). It is unfortunately possible that this date will be extended by the Government.
Further information on social gatherings (including a list of exempt situations) is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november
Dining in Cripps Gallery / use of College bar: Formal Hall and the College Bar are suspended for the duration of the national restrictions. Seated dining in Cripps Gallery and weekday takeaway lunch and dinner services in Cripps Gallery will be maintained throughout. Further details on Cripps Gallery dining will be published shortly. Weekend brunch will continue to be available as a takeaway or seated service in Hall.
If you share facilities such as a kitchen/gyp room, bathroom, shower or toilet with others in College then you must consider that group to be a ‘household’ for the purposes of interpreting government, University and College advice. The ‘student household’ is the fundamental unit for living in. Typically it means all those people who share the same high-contact facilities in their living area (bathroom, shower, toilet, kitchen/gyp room).
Every student room in College has been allocated to a household (sometimes this is called a zone). A household or zone may range from a 1 student household to 12 students in a household. In general, a household is the number of students sharing a bathroom and/or gyp facilities. The numbers vary due to the nature and layout of College buildings.
On the pinboard of each student room there should be a note to indicate to which household/zone the room belongs, and the bathroom (if not ensuite) and gyp room which the student may use. Each bathroom and gyp room will also show a note on the outside stating which students (identified by room numbers) are permitted to use the facility. In order to minimise any potential virus transmission, you must adhere to these allocations (however tempting it may be to use another bathroom or gyp which appears to be free).
It is not possible to allocate a separate laundry facility to each household, however some of the larger houses now have additional laundry facilities. Students living in houses with laundry facilities are asked to use them rather than the central facilities, to minimise footfall in the central laundries.
You should take joint responsibility for keeping your room and shared facilities clean: by taking care of cleaning your own room and by cleaning shared facilities each time you use them you reduce the frequency of visits from housekeeping staff, keeping everyone safer.
You should clean your hands frequently with soap/water or 70% alcohol gel.
Full social distancing within a household on a routine basis is not realistically achievable on proximity grounds beyond strict personal hygiene (unless one person is symptomatic and then additional within-household segregation measures can be implemented for a period). Nevertheless, social distancing as per Government guidance between households remains a central principle. Multiple separate households may be housed within the same building connected by semi-communal entrance halls etc. Be aware of high-contact surfaces including door handles and stair bannisters in these areas. These areas will be subject to frequent cleaning and will be a driver behind the ongoing need for frequent hand washing policies.
Within each Household Group living, socialising, studying and moving around College is possible in the same group.
Please note that the concept of forming a ‘social bubble’ does not apply to Magdalene College accommodation.
Further information on households is available Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Living in Cambridge.
Visitors / seeing friends and family
Currently NO household visitors are permitted in any College accommodation. This includes any Magdalene households mixing. From 5th November 2020 this additionally becomes a legal requirement under the Government’s lock down.
Once the Government lock down restrictions are lifted we will return to reviewing this policy weekly on the basis of data available at the time. Examples of data taken into account will be: Participation in and results from the asymptomatic testing programme, levels of local reported cases, levels of positive test results from those with symptoms both in Magdalene and other Colleges.
Magdalene students seeking to visit another Cambridge College are advised to check with the relevant college beforehand as policies may differ due to variations in accommodation.
Student family and friends: The College is currently closed to all visitors except for visitors for academic purposes. Family or friends who are assisting students with luggage may do so on the day of arrival/departure only. Students are allowed one ‘helper’ only. Students requiring the help of more than one person, e.g. due to a disability, should contact the Head Porter email@example.com in advance of arrival at College. Movement of family / friends assisting with luggage should be restricted to movement between the student’s accommodation and their appointed car park. Family or friends heeding to use toilet facilities should use the facility allocated to the student (as indicated on the pinboard in the student’s room).
Gate closures: With the exceptions of the main gate in Magdalene Street and the main Benson Court gate, all gates will remain closed. College members will be required to carry their access card/key with them at all times. The main gate in Magdalene Street and the main Benson Court gate will be open one side only.
The main gate in Magdalene Street will be open from 6.00 am to 8.00 pm (06.00-20.00 hours) daily. The Benson Court gate will be open from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm (06.00-18.00 hours) on weekdays and closed at weekends.
Self-isolation and testing
If you or someone in your College household develop symptoms which may be coronavirus or have had a positive COVID-19 test result, everyone in your College household must self-isolate in your household accommodation.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e. one or more of a persistent cough, fever, change or loss of sense of smell or a sore throat or muscle aches you must self-isolate immediately in your accommodation and other members of your household must isolate in household accommodation.
You must alert the Porters’ Lodge straight away in this situation, so that they can inform the College Nurse and/or your Tutor. You should not go to the Porters’ Lodge in person. You may contact the Porters’ Lodge by telephone 01223 332100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You should report in this way whether or not you live in College accommodation or private accommodation. The Porters’ Lodge will contact each member of your College household instructing them on what to do. Each member of the household must stay in their room and follow instructions given by the duty Porter.
You must then immediately arrange to be tested, see Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Get tested. Details as to arranging a test will also be supplied by the Porters’ Lodge.
If your test result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started in your accommodation; your household must also then self-isolate for 14 days from this date in the household’s accommodation.
If your test result is negative, subject to the circumstances you may either be required to have a second test, or advised that no second test is necessary. Only when a second test is negative, or no second test is required, will the rest of the household be able to stop isolating. The Porters’ Lodge will inform the College household members when they are able to come out of self-isolation.
The College, along with any self-isolation supporters, will offer your support during self-isolation.
You must not receive visitors from outside your isolation group while self-isolating. Information from Public Health England is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - If you test positive for COVID-19. You must not share items with others (outside an isolation group).
Information as to who is self-isolating will be shared with the College COVID -19 Committee for the purposes of trying to keep you safe by understanding any outbreaks. We will not share this information outside College except in an anonymous form or if required by law.
All students in self-isolation or household isolation will be offered the option of College meals being delivered.
Students with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases
Students in these groups have already been asked to self-identify and inform the Academic Office, any student who has not yet done so should contact the Academic Office:
A student with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases who is in a household which is required to self-isolate will usually be offered a separate ensuite room away from the household for the duration of the self-isolation. They will still be expected to self-isolate. Students in this position will be charged rent at their usual room rate for the period in self-isolation.
NHS Test and Trace
If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told that you have been in contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus infection you must self-isolate for 14 days (refer to NHS guidance on how to do this).
You must stay in your room and immediately inform the Porters’ Lodge who will give further instruction on what to do. You should not go to the Porters’ Lodge in person. You may contact the Porters’ Lodge by telephone 01223 332100 or email email@example.com If you share bathroom facilities with other members of a household then you must wear a face covering to access the bathroom and clean it after use. You should also wipe down door handles. You will not be permitted to access the gyp room or any other area during the period of.
If you do not have symptoms, then the other members of your household do not need to isolate as a household, but you must segregate from them as much as possible. You should be even more vigilant over hand washing (see information above about hand washing).
Travelling / staying out of Cambridge during term
You should not travel out of Cambridge during term time unless absolutely necessary. You must discuss any planned Term time absence with your Tutor in advance. In the event that you need to leave Cambridge you must not mix with members of another household after the 5th November 2020 for the duration of the Government’s lock down period (at least until 2nd December 2020). This means that you cannot return home unless there are extenuating (usually medical) circumstances. You must comply with any additional local restrictions which may be in place in the United Kingdom or quarantine restrictions in force if returning from abroad. Further information is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Living in Cambridge.
Supervision and small-group teaching
Small group teaching and face-to-face supervisions are an important part of teaching in Cambridge. The College intends to encourage in person teaching where it can be delivered safely and in accordance with University policy. Unfortunately close contact in indoor areas increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and therefore the risk of COVID-19. Since some College members (both junior and senior) will be at greater individual risk students or supervisors must not feel any obligation to deliver in-person teaching at / for the College if they feel this is not safe.
Therefore all supervisors must be prepared to be able to provide a remote teaching alternative (e.g. teleconference).
Face-to-face supervisions (or small group teaching)
- Supervisors and supervisees must socially distance during supervisions. Given the nature of supervisions with people facing each other, this means 2 metres. They should wear face coverings during the supervision.
- Supervisors and supervisees must clean their hands before and after the supervision (for example with 70% alcohol gel).
- Government social distancing measures must be respected.
- Face-to-face supervisions should take place in as small group sizes as possible.
- Face-to-face supervisions should take place in the large / well-ventilated rooms. Hard surfaces (e.g. tables) should be cleaned regularly (ideally between supervisions) and supervisions should not be booked back-to-back. Instead at least 10 minutes should be provisioned between supervisions to allow the room to be ventilated.
- Face-to-face supervisions must not take place in rooms or with group sizes where Government social distancing cannot be observed.
Alternative arrangements for in person teaching
In the rare event that a supervisor or students feel that it is neither possible nor practicable to deliver meaningful teaching (because of the specific nature and content of the teaching) within Government guidance on social distancing / face coverings or by videoconference, then the College COVID-19 Committee should be consulted. Alternative arrangements must be risk assessed and approved COVID-19 Committee before they may be used for supervisions or small-group teaching in Magdalene.
Pastoral and wellbeing matters
During a period of self-isolation students will be contacted by their College ‘buddies’ to provide support. Other support is available from:
- Your Tutor - your tutor remains available for help, advice, and pastoral support. Please contact them by email.
- College Nurse – Taryn Rothwell is available on email firstname.lastname@example.org during Term Time. She can arrange to have online or phone consultations.
- College Counselling – Polly Brown, a senior University Counselling Service counsellor, is our College counsellor who offers UCS counselling for Magdalene students during Term Time.
- Chaplain – Sarah is happy for all students to get in touch to chat about anything on your mind. You can contact Sarah at email@example.com. She is mostly available at all times.
- Harassment Officers – Hugo and Pippa are confidential points of contact should you ever feel that you have been harassed or bullied in any sense. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- The College Welfare Hub – has information about many more sources of support available to all students.
Other links for advice
General advice and guidance from the University is available at Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance for all students.
Health and wellbeing advice from the University is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Help and support.
Guidance for resident students is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Living in Cambridge.
Our welfare and the welfare of all around us is everyone’s business when it comes to COVID-19. We hope that members of the College will take their role in protecting each other and the wider University and Cambridge community seriously. If you fail to comply with this Code of Conduct, or with instructions issued in accordance with it by the COVID-19 Officer or Committee, the Officer or Committee may take action under the College COVID-19 Procedure (which might, if thought necessary in the circumstances of the case, include reference of the matter to the Dean for consideration under the College Student Disciplinary Procedure).
If you encounter someone else whose actions you believe are putting people at risk you should feel free to challenge them. If you do not feel able to challenge them or you are not satisfied with their response, you may report the incident to the COVID-19 Officer for further action in accordance with the College COVID-19 Procedure, (which might, if thought necessary in the circumstances of the case, include reference of the matter to the Dean for consideration under the College Student Disciplinary Procedure)
The College COVID-19 Procedure is available at COVID-19 Procedure.
The College Student Disciplinary Procedure (College Rules) is available at Magdalene College Cambridge College Rules.