Oxford University students will have to wear face masks in all lectures and seminars in the next academic year, it has been announced.
The world-renowned university has made it compulsory for students to wear a covering in any shared indoor space, including the college bars, the students’ union and any libraries, unless they have a medical exemption.
The latest guidelines, which were released in the institution’s coronavirus guidance, come just months after the university revealed it would offer students both on-campus and remote lectures from the start of the academic year.
In a statement the university said: ‘Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all staff and students is paramount, which is why we will bring in a range of measures to protect you when you are in University and College buildings.
Students at the University of Oxford will have to wear a covering in any shared indoor space from September. (Stock image)
‘Face coverings will be required during in-person teaching and in indoor shared spaces with exceptions being made for those students and staff with health conditions which mean they can’t wear them.’
The university will also install Perspex screens in labs, and have a special ‘seat-finder’ app to secure distanced spots in libraries.
They will also be installing two private testing for students and staff- one in central Oxford and the other in Headington.
Its statement continued: ‘By September, the University will have a dedicated testing service in place.
‘Managed in collaboration with the UK’s national health service, the NHS, it will ensure students and staff can have easy access to a Covid-19 test if they think they have symptoms. *
‘There will be two testing sites – one in central Oxford and one in Headington, with an online booking service available.
‘Results will be available within 24 hours, and the University will support Public Health England with contact tracing.’
The university (pictured is Christ Church College), which will resume lectures from September, will also install Perspex screens in labs, and have a special ‘seat-finder’ app
Students will also need to wear a mask in the college bars, the students’ union and any libraries. (Stock image)
The university, which has been at the forefront of research to find a vaccine for Covid-19, will also adapt its spaces to ensure social distancing and will be enforcing an enhanced cleaning regime.
Cambridge University is also bringing in facial covering rules, however students will not have to wear them where social distancing of two metres can be observed.
In a statement, the university said: ‘It is vital that we all feel comfortable, confident and safe at Cambridge.
‘We continually monitor the latest public health advice, and we take account of the science.
‘The university and colleges expect members of the Cambridge community to wear face coverings in any work or study setting, at a minimum, unless it is clear that social distancing can be maintained at all times, or someone has a medical exemption.
‘Therefore, we should carry face coverings with us and wear them where asked to do so by College or University authorities or when it would be a courtesy to others.
‘In University buildings, we expect staff, students and visitors to wear a face covering where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of at least two metres.
‘In Colleges, since each one has different spaces and buildings, the specific rules may be stricter in some than others, but we will all follow these basic principles.’
National Union of Students vice president for education Hillary Gyebi-Ababio praised the move.
She said: ‘We would welcome any measures that universities take to prioritise student and staff safety, in line with medical advice.
‘Governments in the UK should be working with relevant agencies like the Office for Students as well as universities and colleges themselves to ensure that measures are being put in place across the sector to protect students.
‘It is important that universities work in collaboration with students’ unions to communicate safety measures to make sure students are able to have a full and clear understanding of what they should expect when returning back to campus.’
Students at many universities, including University College London, have also been banned from having parties or inviting people to stay overnight.