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Wearing face coverings on campus

UCL's policies on wearing face coverings on campus, information about exemptions and other circumstances, and guidance on how to make and properly use face coverings.

These guidelines are reviewed regularly and will be updated if UK Government's guidance changes.

UCL's guidance

UCL’s guidance for those on campus is: 

  • If you can wear a face covering, then you are expected to do so. This applies when you’re on campus, both inside buildings and when moving around campus on UCL owned outdoor space; in offices, labs and teaching spaces. 
  • Face coverings must be worn by all staff, students and visitors if coming within two metres of someone else.  
  • Everyone should aim to provide their own covering for general purposes. UCL will ensure that face coverings are available on campus to purchase. Wearing a face covering is new for all of us and we will need to work together to remind each other and our students when we forget and also gently point out our policy to visitors.
  • If you can wear a face covering during classroom teaching then you are expected to do so. UCL will provide coverings with clear panels to staff to support this and other activities where not being able to see the mouth will inhibit the ability to communicate. These are being procured centrally and will be distributed to all departments by the Estates team.
  • Where identified as a mandatory requirement for particular roles through risk assessment, UCL will provide face coverings or masks to staff.
  • It is understood that wearing face coverings all day can be uncomfortable and therefore if you are alone in a room, or outside and with plenty of space, we encourage you to take breaks from wearing your face covering. Please contact your line manager if you have concerns. 

Exemptions and other circumstances

UCL acknowledges that there may be good reasons why you are not able to wear a face covering. Three schemes provide exemption processes to signal to others on campus that they are unable to use face covering. Staff or students who cannot use face coverings should use: a face covering exemption card from TfL; the government’s exemption badge templates which can be printed or uploaded onto a mobile phone; or could wear a Sunflower Lanyard to highlight non visible disabilities. This Sunflower Lanyard scheme signals discreetly to others that you may need extra assistance, rather than that you are exempt from using a face covering per se. If individuals have concerns, they should contact their department, line manager, Workplace Health or Student Support and Wellbeing

Face coverings may also present additional challenges for people who are D/deaf or have another hearing or communication impairment; or Neurodivergent people and those with cognitive impairments. The UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) have issued a statement with more information and advice. Please be sensitive to those unable to use face coverings for whatever reason and behave respectfully towards all members of the community at this time.

Face coverings or face masks

A face covering can be very simple and just needs to cover your mouth and nose. Note that a face covering is a precautionary measure and not the same as personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes specialist surgical masks and tight-fitting face masks. Lower grade examination masks can be worn as a face covering, but surgical masks and tight-fitting face masks should only be worn when necessary to help ensure there is enough supply for those who need them.

It is important to use face coverings properly, please take the following steps:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it.
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly.
  • Change and wash your face covering daily.
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in general waste. Do not litter or drop used coverings outside bins.
  • If you take a covering off for use later, store it safely in a sealable plastic bag, such as those used for toiletries in airports. Do not leave on or in shared areas.

Making your own face covering

The National Deaf Children's Society has links to videos on how to make accessible, deaf-friendly face masks.  

The UCL Institute of Making website has comprehensive FAQs with links to sewing and non-sewing patterns for making face coverings, as well as advice on how to ensure a good fit, how to clean your face covering and why making your own (rather than using disposables) is a good idea. Public Health England also have a guide to making a simple cloth face covering.