Update 8 January 2021 - national lockdown
The University recognises that staff who have caring responsibilities will need to balance their caring commitments with work during this next phase of national lockdown.
As with the first national lockdown, we recognise that the closure of schools and colleges will mean that many of our staff will need to juggle work, childcare/homeschooling, and other caring commitments. We also recognise that you may not be able to contribute as fully to work as you would under normal circumstances. If this applies to you, please talk to your line manager in the first instance - we will do everything we can to support you and will be grateful for whatever contribution you are able to make at this difficult time.
The Department for Education has confirmed that higher education staff in England are considered critical / key workers for access to school places and educational settings. Whether working on campus or working from home, higher education staff involved in the delivery of higher education are considered critical workers, vital to the continuation of education and their children can attend school for face-to-face teaching from the advertised first day of term. However, the Government has issued updated its guidance and is now advising parents and carers who are critical workers to keep their children at home if they can and we would encourage as many staff as possible to only take up a school place(s) if absolutely necessary. Finding the right balance may be difficult but the University will do everything it can to support staff and flexible hours and working patterns, and furlough (whether part-time or full-time) are options that can be discussed with those affected.
Those who will find it impossible to carry out their role whilst home-schooling may, of course, continue to apply for a critical worker place at their school.
We are asking staff to exercise judgment, and unless you cannot carry out your role while home-schooling, and your job is absolutely critical to delivering teaching to students; providing welfare to students; or involved in Covid-related research, then we ask you not to apply for a school place as a critical worker.
The local education authority (Oxfordshire County Council) has agreed with this approach, and will be issuing guidance to schools to reflect these criteria. Schools will take them into account when making decisions on applications where they have insufficient space. The approach has also been agreed with the University of Oxford.
We hope that in all of us making these hard choices we can maintain school places for those parents who work in roles which are absolutely critical for defeating this virus.
Please see the Guidance on critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings for more details.
Other childcare options
There are more options available for staff during this lockdown as childcare support bubbles are allowed and nurseries remain open.
If you have specific queries, please refer to the FAQs below as these have been updated and may help you.
For Government Covid guidance, please refer to the government website. In the event that a member of staff needs to self-isolate in line with NHS or Government advice, this absence should be reported using the Coronavirus Reporting form and the absence will be counted as special Covid leave on full pay.