Face coverings

As the University moves forward with comprehensive plans to reopen campus for the start of term, it has been agreed that face coverings will be required in communal indoor spaces on the University of Sussex campus. 

This policy means that all students should wear a face covering in seminar rooms and other teaching spaces, including computer clusters, and the University will provide face visors for teaching staff to wear during classes. Academics should be able to maintain a 2m distance from the front of the class and so do not need to wear cloth face coverings; visors are an added protection that will allow students to see the academic's face. Academics are asked to deliver their session entirely from the front of the class and should not walk around the class.

Other common areas where staff and students are asked to wear a face covering – such as foyers, corridors, toilets, stairs, lifts and the Library – will be identified with signposts.

Face coverings will not usually be required in staff offices, because other mitigations are in place.

Those who have a medical reason not to wear a face covering will have the option of wearing a lanyard to signify this. You can collect a lanyard from Sussex House reception.

Face coverings should be used alongside social distancing measures and personal hygiene practices, such as frequent hand-washing, being tested when displaying symptoms, and self-isolating when unwell.

The University of Sussex policy on face coverings applies in addition to legal requirements, which currently require all students, staff and visitors to wear a face covering:

  • inside shops, supermarkets and banks – including those on the Sussex campus
  • in the campus cafes when buying food or drink to take away
  • when travelling to or from campus on public transport (ie by bus or train).

A face covering safely covers the nose and mouth. It is a matter of personal choice for staff and students which form of face covering they choose to wear, such as a scarf, bandana or other cloth covering, a single-use disposable covering, or a religious garment.


What is the University’s position on face coverings?

The University has reflected on the Government’s guidance on the wearing of face coverings in the context of our return to campus.

We recommend that you carry a face mask with you at all times when on campus and would also recommend that you wear a face mask in any built up or communal areas where it is difficult to keep up to 2m apart. Common areas include foyers, corridors, toilet facilities, stairs, lifts and when queuing for food and beverages etc where social distancing of 2m may be difficult to achieve. This will not apply in offices where other mitigating measures are in place.

There will be some areas where you will be asked to wear a mask and these areas will be identified through signposting. These include areas such as shops, take away food areas, teaching rooms and the Library.

We recognise that the wearing of face coverings is not appropriate for all and we have started the work to find an appropriate means of indicating this exemption.

As a member of staff do I need a face covering?

Whether you need to use a face covering, surgical mask or visor in your work area will depend upon the risk assessment for your work area. Where effective social distancing can be maintained then the risk assessment may indicate no coverings are required but in others this may not be the case and surgical masks and visors may be made mandatory. Such areas will be provided with suitable signage.

In the context of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. Face coverings may be reusable or single-use. A scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering that securely fits round the side of the face is also a face covering. It is a matter of personal choice for staff and students which form of face covering they choose to wear.

There are full details of Government guidance on the wearing of face coverings.

Colleagues are also reminded of the need to only wear face coverings where necessary and to remove them if safe to do so in order to reduce the impact on those who may lip read.

As a member of staff who is working face to face with students, will the university be providing me with a face covering?

The University have procured a large number of disposable face masks which will be available for staff that need to be face to face in their interactions with students or staff. Other protective measures have also been put in place in many areas, such as Perspex screens for additional safety. We do recommend that staff and students carry their own personal face covering with them at all times when on campus, as you would do in any situation these days which might mean you are mixing with people not normally in your household or bubble.

Who is exempt from wearing a face mask? And how will this be clear to others?  

Some people are exempt from wearing face coverings for medical or other reasons. Please see the government guidance on who this applies to and when you do not need to wear a face covering. 

People may choose to signify this in some way, or just will be happy to explain when asked. This is a personal preference.

Some people will choose to display something, such as a card or sign on their phone.

Cards may be displayed on a lanyard - and people wearing a sunflower lanyard to indicate a hidden disability may choose to attach their card. 

The University is also providing yellow lanyards to anyone wanting to use that to signify exception - so if you see one please recognise that’s what it means, and if you’d like one they will be available to collect from Sussex House reception and various points across the University.

How will teaching staff be provided with a face visor for use in teaching spaces? Is it up to each School or department to order as required? 

Each HoS or PS lead in the School should ascertain how many visors are needed and let Estates / SEF know. The visors will then be delivered to the School for distribution.

What adjustments are in place for students/staff who need to lip read?

Clear visors will be provided to teaching staff to ensure that they can wear a face covering if they wish and students who lip read can do so. All teaching areas will be set up to ensure that there is a minimum of 2 metres distance from teaching staff and students – this complies with the social distancing regulations and staff may choose to wish to wear a clear visor as well.