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Guidance on face coverings

Girl wearing face covering

Following the publication of guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) on 10 September, we have been reviewing all of the measures we have put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including our position on face coverings.

The guidance states:

"Where social distancing is difficult to maintain or good ventilation is difficult to provide, including workshops, laboratories, offices, libraries and teaching rooms, providers can adopt the use of face coverings as part of their wider COVID-secure measures, in addition to hand hygiene facilities and reduced access, provided the use of a face covering does not interfere with teaching and learning."

This is consistent with our previously published policy that we strongly encourage all members of our community to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, including classrooms, lecture theatres and the Library, where social distancing of 2 metres is not possible.

We have listened and understood feedback from colleagues and also considered the latest guidance carefully. Following this, we have taken the decision to amend the wording of our policy to make our position more clear. We expect everyone to wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult to maintain, including in teaching spaces, unless they are exempt.

Please see the full policy below.

What is the University policy on face coverings?

The University supports the government's advice that face coverings can be used as a precautionary measure to protect others and advises that we "Protect our Community: Wear a Face Covering". 

There are three main points for both students and colleagues to remember:

1.  All legal requirements about face coverings apply on campus. For example, you must wear a face covering in shops, takeaway food outlets, on public transport, places of worship and in our museums.

2.  In line with government guidance, you are expected to wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult to maintain, including:

  • in enclosed spaces, including classrooms, lecture theatres and the library, or where social distancing of 2 metres is not possible (this includes corridors and outdoor spaces)
  • where you come into contact with others that you do not normally meet.

3. You do not need to wear a face covering if you can work 2 metres from others, so you may choose to  remove it when sitting at a desk or workstation outside a classroom setting (if you are more than 2 metres away from other people) although you should put it back on to move around inside buildings.

It is important to note that some people are exempt from wearing face coverings. This can be for a wide range of reasons, including hidden disabilities. If you see someone wearing a sunflower lanyard, this indicates that they have a hidden disability. However, wearing one is a personal choice and not everyone affected by a hidden disability will choose to do so.

Students living in our Halls of Residence do not need to wear a face covering inside their house/flat. Students may wish to wear a face covering in communal areas inside halls where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of 2 metres.  

In general, you will need to have your own face covering and you will be able to purchase them at various outlets on campus. Face coverings can take a variety of forms but should cover the nose and mouth areas. There is helpful advice on using and disposing of face coverings on the UK government website.

Members of staff working in reception areas, catering outlets and support areas, where a high degree of interaction is likely, will be supplied with appropriate face covering if a risk assessment indicates that this is necessary. Staff delivering face-to-face teaching will be able to request a face visor, which can provide reassurance for both staff and students as well as allowing easier communication.

We are a diverse community and we wish to take a position that is consistent with government advice and that feels as safe and reassuring as possible for everyone. Please be courteous, respectful and patient towards all members of our community.

You can read more about face coverings, including how to make your own, on the government's website.

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