Paying for the Pandemic

By Sally Jackson, Alumni, Development & Communications Officer.

Photo by Michael Baker

St John’s College recently received a donation of £20,000. It came from a friend of the College who recognises that running a Covid-safe college comes with extra costs. 

And that is indeed the case! Running a Covid-safe St John’s is a lot more expensive than in normal times.

These costs are operational, adapting the day-to-day running of the college so it remains in line with government guidance and ensuring the safety of all students and staff. For example, we have increased Catering staff shifts to allow for organised dining sittings and increased housekeeping shifts to provide cleaning of communal areas seven days a week. Importantly, the recent donation has allowed us to appoint a dedicated Covid Incident Manager, to efficiently oversee our Covid management. Chris Courtman has stepped into this role on a temporary basis from his position of Operations Manager at Cranmer Hall. Chris reports that over 2500 meals have been delivered door-to-door while students have been in periods of household isolation in College. 

The costs are also practical, and very much visible when walking around College (while wearing a mask indoors and keeping 2m distance from others, of course)! For example, we have hired a temporary marquee on Library Lawn to ease pressure on Haughton Dining Room during mealtimes, and to provide more and flexible social space for students. We have put up perspex screens in the dining room and various areas of College. Leech Hall is even more multi-use than normal, as it too is used as extra dining space, this time for Cranmer Hall. 


Our Deputy Principal, Dr Anne Allen, spearheaded the mission to adapt both outdoor and indoor spaces for maximum use and student enjoyment. Linton Lawn is now home to an outdoor ‘Garden’ bar and socialising space, with new tables and parasols. The Bailey Room, Post Room, Linton Room and stone hallway are all also used as bar space, with bookable tables. The Old Library has been reinvented as a social space. All of these areas mean there are plenty of options for household groups to find the space to socialise while social distancing. 

Garden Bar

As a registered charity, St John’s relies on generous donations from alumni and friends. It’s thanks to past generosity that we have been able to navigate the changes of the current pandemic, balancing the need to save costs where possible while striving to provide a great student experience – as similar as it can be, under the circumstances, to the one alumni so fondly remember.  

We are very thankful for the £20,000 donation, which will go a long way in financing the extra costs incurred because of the pandemic. Indeed, we give thanks to all our donors – those who give regularly or once in a while – for continuing to support St John’s while times are tough for everyone.  

The future holds many uncertainties, and we remain grateful to have such generous alumni and friends that we can call upon for support. 

If you would like to explore the possibility of donating to St John’s College, contact Sally at

If you would like to make an online donation to the ‘Outside @ John’s’ project, please see here:

Staff members can donate via CAF ‘Give As You Earn’. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, the finance team would love to hear from you.

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