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 have been updated in light of the Government's announcement of the lifting of restrictions from Monday 19 July.
All guidelines are reviewed regularly and will be updated if UK Government's guidance changes.
UCL's face covering policy
You are expected to wear a face covering during classroom teaching. You should ensure your students also do so. A face visor or shield only provides limited protection compared to a face covering. This is because they do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles. Therefore, face visors and shields should not be used on their own, but can be used together with a face covering.
Although this is UCL’s position, the Department for Education has said that students can choose not to wear face coverings and they must not miss out on educational sessions if they do so.
Wearing a face covering is now part of our daily routine, unless you are exempt, 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.
We will continue to monitor our position on face coverings, informed by public health guidance, and review the policy again on 22 October.
It is understood that wearing face coverings all day can be uncomfortable and present barriers to communication, therefore we encourage you to take breaks from wearing your face covering if the environment you are in allows you to do so. However, if you wish to continue wearing a face covering when on campus in all environments, you can continue to do so.
Providing face coverings
Everyone should aim to provide their own covering for general purposes. UCL will ensure that a number of face coverings are available on campus, but ultimately it is your responsibility to supply one.
UCL will provide transparent face coverings for people who need them.
Where face masks such as FFP2 and FFP3 are identified as a mandatory requirement for particular activities through risk assessment UCL will provide these free of charge.
UCL have a limited supply of FFP2 masks which will be available to staff who wish to use for travelling on public transport until stocks run out - see the working on campus page for more details.
This policy will be kept under review by Covid Management Response Team and Workplace Health.
Please contact your line manager if you have concerns.
Transport for London has stated that the wearing of face coverings on TFL buses, the underground, and overground trains in London will continue to be mandatory.
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.
The science behind 'Hands, Face and Space', Professor Ivan Parkin
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.