Evidence summary to inform safe return to campus in the context of COVID-19

Colleagues in Oxford and Leeds have collated a short briefing consolidating the evidence base on safe return to on-site working.

This briefing emphasises that key to effective prevention of COVID-19 is acknowledgement of its predominantly airborne mode of transmission. This should lead to risk assessments incorporating the following measures:

1. The use of face coverings at all times while indoors, with encouragement to wear higher-grade respirators for best protection – especially for those who are clinically vulnerable.

2. A greater focus on engineering controls including ventilation and/or filtration of air.

3. Continuing attention to physical distancing but acknowledging that a particular spacing between people in the same room will not make a space “safe”. Additional measures, such as joining remotely, cohorting and frequent breaks, should be used to reduce crowding and time spent in the same room with other people.

In addition, university and college staff should encourage and facilitate vaccination, attend to testing and tracing, and be ready to instigate tighter controls (including a return to online teaching) if case numbers rise.

We hope you find this document useful in navigating and negotiating the safest possible return to on-site work over the coming weeks.

Please e-mail ucu@ox.ac.uk if you have ongoing concerns regarding health and safety.