UCL Human Resources


Face Covering Guidance

Guidance for staff, students and visitors about wearing face coverings on the UCL campus.


1. Introduction
2. Face coverings
3. Sharing our guidance
4. Maintaining voluntary social distancing
5. Lectures, teaching and meetings 
6. Confined spaces
7. Taking breaks from wearing a face covering
8. Removal of face covering to eat and drink  
9. Exemptions and other circumstances
10. Providing face coverings
11. Monitoring and review

1. Introduction 

1.1 All staff and students are expected to wear a face covering at all times whilst indoors on campus, unless they are medically exempt. This includes all staff, students and visitors in offices, labs and teaching spaces or other indoor areas, unless you are alone in a room. This includes whilst sitting at a desk in an open plan office when others are present. Face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors around the campus or while eating in an appropriate place.

2. Face coverings

2.1 A face covering is something which securely covers the nose and mouth. Cloth face coverings and disposable face coverings work best if they are made with multiple layers (at least 2) and form a good fit around the face.

2.2 Transparent face visors or shields are not an equivalent alternative in terms of virus transmission and are not considered a face covering under this guidance. They may protect the wearer against droplet spread but are unlikely to be effective in preventing the escape of smaller particles when used without an additional face covering. 

3. Sharing our guidance

3.1 Staff and students need to work together to remind each other when we forget to wear a face covering and also gently point out our guidance to all visitors.  

4. Maintaining voluntary social distancing

4.1 For those who wish to voluntarily maintain social distancing, UCL is supporting the government backed ‘please give me space’ initiative.  Social distancing remains an effective additional mitigation measure against the spread of Covid-19 and staff and students are encouraged to give each other space wherever possible.

5. Lectures, teaching and meetings 

5.1 Although this is UCL’s position, the Department for Education has said that “no student should be denied education on the grounds of whether they are, or are not, wearing a face covering.”

5.2 Because face coverings are no longer required in England under Government policy, staff cannot refuse to undertake their duties solely on the basis that a student or colleague is not wearing a face covering.

5.3 Staff and students who are concerned are advised to read our Keeping Safe on Campus pages and our information on ventilation to understand all the mitigations UCL has put in place to keep everybody safe on campus, in line with all government guidance. Staff may seek reassurance and advice from their line manager and/or from our  Employee Assistance Programme. Students may seek reassurance and advice from the askUCL student enquiries system.

5.4 In the event a staff member has serious health concerns and feels they are at a high risk if they interact with those who are not wearing a face covering, they should discuss their concerns with their line manager and should complete an individual health assessment with their line manager. Following the individual health assessment, if there is still a serious concern, they may be referred to Workplace Health for an occupational health assessment.   Whilst awaiting recommendations from a Workplace Health referral, the line manager must consider any reasonable adjustments on a temporary basis until advice is received. They may consult their HR Business Partner for tailored advice.

5.5 At the beginning of any session, lecture, meeting or gathering of staff and students indoors, the lead member of staff should remind all those present to wear their face covering unless they are medically exempt. Staff and students who are not wearing a face covering after a reminder, must be assumed to be medically exempt, and must not be asked to leave or be made to feel uncomfortable.

6. Confined spaces

6.1 Where staff and/or students have face-to-face meetings in a small office / room and wish to socially distance up to 2 metres apart, those who are medically exempt from wearing a face covering can, if they choose, let other attendees know in advance. This could allow a larger room to be booked where possible.

6.2 Staff must not cancel a session or exclude someone from a session because an attendee is not wearing a face covering.

7. Taking breaks from wearing a face covering

7.1 It is understood that wearing face coverings all day can be uncomfortable and present barriers to communication.  We therefore encourage you to take breaks from wearing your face covering where possible (e.g. outdoors or in a room with sole occupation).

8. Removal of face covering to eat and drink  

8.1 Staff are encouraged to leave their work area to take their lunch break, to get fresh air and to remove their mask. Staff and students should be mindful about where they eat, and are encouraged to eat in designated places, such as a campus café or bar, a kitchen, or a common room, where they can maintain distance from others if needed, and while they remove their mask to eat and drink. 

8.2 When not eating, staff and students may adjust their face covering to take sips of a drink but the face covering should not be removed, unless absolutely necessary.   

9. Exemptions and other circumstances

9.1 UCL acknowledges that there may be medical 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 a 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.

9.2 Staff and students who are not wearing a face covering but are wearing a Sunflower Lanyard will be assumed to be exempt and will not be reminded to wear a face covering.

9.3 Staff and students who are exempt from wearing a face covering are asked to keep a distance of 2 metres from others when asked, and where possible.

9.4 If individuals have concerns, they should contact their department, line manager, Workplace Health or Student Support and Wellbeing

9.5 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.

10. Providing face coverings

10.1 Everyone should aim to provide their own covering for general purposes. UCL will also ensure that a number of face coverings are available on campus, but ultimately it is your responsibility to supply one.

10.2 UCL will provide transparent face coverings for staff who need them. 

10.3 Where face masks such as FFP2 and FFP3 are identified as a mandatory requirement for particular activities through risk assessment, departments will provide these.

Collection points for clear fronted face coverings for teaching and disposable face coverings for staff and students who have forgotten theirs 

Face Covering Issuing LocationsStaffed by Security
Bentham House08:00 - 18:00
Central House07:00 - 19:00
Chandler House08:00 - 19:00
Charles Bell House08:00 - 18:00
Ear Institute - Wicklow Street 7508:00 - 18:00
Engineering Front Building07:00 - 19:00
Euston Road (222)08:00 - 20:00
Front Quad24/7
Gordon St Gate07:00 - 19:00
Gower Place07:00 - 21:00
Here East07-00 - 19.00
Inst Neurology - Queen Square House24/7
IOE - Bedford Way (20) - Level 324/7
IOE - Emerald St (23-29)08:00 - 18:00
Library - Science24/7
Library - Main24/7
Rockefeller Building07:00 - 19:00
Student Centre24/7
Torrington Place (1-19)08:00 - 19:00
UCL GOSICH - 30 Guilford Street07:00 - 23:00

11. Monitoring and review

11.1 We will continue to monitor our position on face coverings, informed by public health guidance.

How to use a face covering properly 

  • 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.

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/EF4h67iA


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.