By Ben Farmer, Vice President (Charities and Community), Oxford SU

OVER the next couple of weeks, many of the students at the University of Oxford will be returning to the city. Lots of them never left.

Medical students from the university were on the frontline in the NHS, whilst many others delivered services as key workers.

Hundreds of students joined the ongoing community campaigns led by Oxford Hub and Oxford Mutual Aid to support the most vulnerable groups throughout the pandemic.

Of course, not all students remained in Oxford during the pandemic with many returning to family homes.

See also: Oxford Covid cases surge after IT error

Despite this, they remain part of the Oxford community and have contributed in their own way.

For example, through a plethora of virtual events, from musical marathons to sporting challenges which have raised thousands of pounds for Oxford charities.

The hard work and dedication of students looks set to continue into the new academic year, as students seek to help in the city they’re proud to call home.

Whilst many students have been able to get involved with these activities, of course many have found and continue to find the pandemic deeply distressing with many students or members of their family in clinically vulnerable groups.

Oxford Mail:

Meanwhile, like all of us, too many have lost loved ones before their time.

Oxford SU’s elected sabbatical officers have been working hard to put plans in place for the upcoming academic year.

We have actively lobbied and worked closely with the senior leadership at our institution to ensure the plans put in place have the safety of the whole community as the priority.

This is illustrated by our work at Oxford SU, providing guidance on safe face-to-face socialising in Covid-secure spaces on campus for student leaders.

Read more: Full list of schools with coronavirus outbreaks

A comprehensive public health campaign is being delivered by the university to remind students of their responsibility for the community.

As student representatives, we are encouraging students to consider the university’s public health campaign which reminds students of health measures.

For more information about these, visit the university website.

We are, of course, aware of the immense and complex challenges facing the Oxford community over the coming weeks and months, as highlighted by recent events at universities across the country.

Students are just as aware of these issues and will be seeking to follow guidance to help keep everyone safe.

Oxford Mail:

Whilst, like all of us, individual students may have momentary lapses of judgements, they are not here to break the guidance.

Students have always wanted to act safely and our concerns and fears about the virus are no different to the general population’s.

Students and students’ unions want clear leadership from the Government and, universities, on returning and acting safely, not individual blame.

Both universities have resilient and proactive processes in place to deal with any persistent and intentional breaches of public health guidance.

It’s clear that the 2020-21 academic year will be a year like no other and we at Oxford SU are committed to doing our bit to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the whole community here in Oxford.