COVID-19 Isolation and Testing – staff

Symptom-free testing

From Monday 12 April the University of Oxford will provide free testing via the new symptom-free (LFD) testing centres located in easy-to-access sites around Oxford.

Who should participate?

Testing is voluntary but we strongly encourage everyone who is working or studying on site to get tested twice a week, every week throughout Trinity term, including those staff who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 90 days ago.  We appreciate there will have to be some flexibility in order for staff to attend the testing centres. Staff are requested to talk to their line manager if they need to perform a test inside working hours.

It is possible to order LFD tests via a number of other routes – details of which can be found on the Government website. You may choose to use non-University testing routes (for example, if you are not in Oxford, or you have irregular work patterns) where it minimises travel or is more convenient.

Who should not participate?

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19: You should instead book a PCR test via the University’s Early Alert Service and follow the advice you are given when you receive your result (if you develop symptoms between LFD tests, you must stop taking the LFDs and have a PCR test instead).
  • You have been asked to self-isolate by a public health official.
  • You have had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days.

How to book a test

Tests should be booked via the Book a Test Button on the symptom-free testing webpage. Booking a test prevents queues and ensures the process is quick and seamless.

At the testing centre your University card will be scanned and you will be given a registration card with barcode sticker. You will be asked to register your test on the NHS Track and Trace system, either on your own phone if you have one with you, or on a device which will be provided. Staff at the site will assist you with how to register.

How to perform the test

  • Staff will swab themselves and then hand over the swab to an assistant who will perform the test and record it. Staff are on site to support participants while performing their swab.
  • Two tests per week should be performed throughout Trinity term. Wherever possible testing should be on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday.
  • There is no need for staff to wait 30 minutes for the result. This will usually be communicated electronically the same day.
  • Staff working irregular working patterns should not make special trips into work to perform their LFD tests via University testing sites. You can take tests when you are next working on site, and we would encourage you to use community testing in between where available.

What to do if you test positive

  • Anyone who tests positive in any LFD tests (including those via community testing or received from the Government via another route), must immediately self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test, preferably through the University’s Early Alert Service. You (and your household) should immediately self-isolate and assume you have the virus, pending the result of the confirmatory PCR test.
  • If you receive a PCR test result, positive or negative, through a route other than the University Early Alert service (e.g. via the national NHS service), you must report your result by using the Report a Test Button on the University’s testing webpage.
  • You will receive further advice from the NHS and the University Results Liaison Team (RLT).
  • If you receive your positive result notification at work you should only use public transport to return home if you have no other option. You should strictly follow the safer travel guidance for passengers. Refer to the Safer travel national guidance.
  • Because the tests do not pick up every case, you may still be infectious even if you receive a negative result, so it is essential that you continue to follow all COVID precautions.

LFD tests are an additional tool in helping to limit the spread of COVID-19. They can detect whether you have COVID-19 before you develop symptoms. Staff taking the tests will help to reduce any potential spread of COVID-19 across the University and community. Further information.

Symptoms and self-isolation

Updated and detailed guidance about self-isolation and shared spaces is available from Public Health England on the government website.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – a recent onset of any of the following – a new continuous cough, a high temperature, a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell however mild, the advice is to self-isolate at home immediately for the updated duration of at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 by requesting a test from the NHS or by through the University’s in-house testing service (see more below).

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of COVID-19, then you must stay at home for at least 10 days. All other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they must stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in their original 10-day isolation period.

Fellows, Research Associates and Common Room Members

If you have visited the college recently, please notify us should you be required to self-isolate or if you test positive for COVID-19. Our single point of contact is Teresa Strike at (cc to Gillian Cane at This notification is only necessary if you have been on college premises within the relevant period of time. Students and Staff should continue to follow the protocols here.

COVID-19 Testing Early Alert Service

The University’s in-house COVID-19 testing service is now open to all staff of the University and colleges, providing rapid access to free testing if they think they have coronavirus symptoms (minor or major). The central testing site in the city centre is the first to open, and is located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ). A second testing site at the Old Road campus in Headington is scheduled to open in September when students begin returning to Oxford for the new academic year.

The Early Alert Service: testing for COVID-19 (EAS) is a free, customized service for students and staff of the University that  benefit the local community by reducing the risk of a further COVID-19 outbreak and reducing the pressure on NHS testing facilities. The EAS will offer a test if you do not have the main symptoms of COVID-19 but have other symptoms which may be similar to or confused with those of COVID-19. If your symptoms are assessed by the EAS to fall outside of the main COVID-19 symptoms then other members of your household will not need to self-isolate unless you subsequently test positive. The service is aligned with NHS and PHE guidelines and uses proven technologies and standard NHS procedures.