COVID-19 Message from the Principal

22nd May 2020

Dear Members and Friends of St Hilda’s,

We are aware that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation makes for an anxious time for many members of our community, especially those who have pre-existing health conditions, family members in high-risk groups, or friends and family in other affected countries.

We are seeking to respond as swiftly as possible to emerging information and advice. St Hilda's has reduced its activities to those that are essential to maintain and protect the College and to support the students who are unable to go home. Our academics are committed to ensuring that students have access to the facilities they need for Trinity Term. Our support services and College Library are similarly focused on ensuring our students have access to the facilities they need. They will continue to receive a first-rate education, albeit in a new way.

We have taken the following actions to comply with the University of Oxford and Government guidance.

  • In alignment with the University, all teaching, learning and assessments will be conducted remotely for Trinity Term. Information has been shared with our students about exams and assessments. 
  • In line with the University, those students who are still in College are now able to return to their family homes, as previous advice that they should not attempt to travel has been updated.  
  • Students who have already left to go home should not return to St Hilda's until further notice. 
  • All staff members who are able to work from home are doing so. They will not come into College unless it is essential.
  • Staff presence on the site is at the minimum level necessary to provide essential services and keep core operations running. Social distancing is being observed in and around College.
  • The Library, Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, JCR, MCR, SCR, and Dining Hall are all closed.
  • Bod cards will be needed to access College buildings.
  • We have organised a programme of virtual events over the summer for members and friends of St Hilda's. This includes a Virtual St Hilda's Day at the Oxford Literary Festival, following the postponement of the event in March. Please take a look and enjoy the recorded talks from our authors and speakers. 
  • In the light of continued developments with coronavirus (Covid-19) our 2020 July Open Days will not be going ahead. Anyone thinking of applying to Oxford this October should sign up to receive the latest developments and news on undergraduate admissions

These actions are reviewed regularly by the College's COVID-19 working group by teleconference. 

Life at St Hilda's continues with our virtual Trinity Term. You can find out how our staff and students are experiencing lockdown with our blog series, Postcards from St Hilda's

We are continuing to progress the first phase of the building work at St Hilda's. We anticipate that the new buildings will be complete in autumn 2020. Beard Construction's staff members are working where possible on our site and are following government guidance when doing so. Find out more about Beard's response to COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Oxford are at the forefront of global efforts to understand COVID-19 and to protect our communities, particularly through development of new and existing drugs to treat the disease, and through clinical trials of a potential vaccine developed in Oxford. St Hilda’s is proud to have our own world-leading academics contributing to these efforts. Professor Duncan Richards, Climax Professor of Clinical Therapeutics, is leading a planning group within the Medical Sciences Division to coordinate efforts to assess novel approaches to the treatment of this complex disease. Professor Richards says: “A coordinated approach is vital in these circumstances where there are lots of patients but NHS resources are stretched. Research is a vital component of the response to COVID-19, but we have to ensure that we avoid competition between similar trials. Our group involves disease area experts and those who are leading research on the front line to ensure we have the best chances of finding effective treatments for this deadly infection.”

Find out more about Oxford's latest COVID-19 research updates

We are happy to have been able to help with local efforts to support the NHS in small but practical ways. We have been busy gathering protective aprons and gloves from our our own stores and collecting donations from colleges across the University, all of which went to the John Radcliffe Hospital to help the NHS workers there. One of our staff members has also been making scrubs for local hospitals. Thank you to everyone who contributed. Our students have fundraised for Oxford Food Bank  and donated boxes of food to the Oxford Community Emergency Foodbank. Well done to everyone who has taken part.

We are also proud that some of our Senior Members are taking an active role in sharing information and making sense of this situation. Anna Hall's (English, 1987) documentary A Day in the Life of Coronavirus Britain for Channel 4 is an extraordinary feat of editing and working remotely to capture the resilient spirit of families and individuals across the country. Zeinab Badawi (PPE, 1978) has put together an important BBC piece on the dangers of spreading misinformation, Coronavirus: How can you stop the spread of misinformation? Katty Kay (Modern Languages, 1984) and Zanny Minton-Beddoes (PPE, 1986) are frequently seen and read commenting on the latest developments.

Further details about how the University will be operating can be found on its COVID-19 advice and guidance page. This page is updated as soon as any university-level decisions are made.

Governmental guidance in response to the coronavirus pandemic is being regularly updated. Please follow the instructions from Government on self-isolation, social distancing and when to call the NHS. By doing so, you are not only protecting your own health and that of people you live with, but you are also playing your part in reducing the impact of the virus on vulnerable people, on the NHS and on the economy.

Finally, I wish that everyone stays well, and those with childcare challenges, or 'at-risk' friends and family, have my total sympathy and solidarity. 

With all good wishes. 

Sir Gordon Duff