Face masks to be compulsory in university buildings as Durham updates Covid-19 guidelines

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In an email to the student body, the University announced new Covid-19 measures for the upcoming academic year. These include compulsory face coverings in University buildings, isolation rooms for people experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, and a click and collect system for University cafés and restaurants. 

University members will have a personal responsibility to comply with regulations, and staff will be encouraged to challenge inappropriate behaviour in a “professional and courteous manner”. An Incident Control Centre is in place for students and staff to raise concerns. 

Face coverings

From 14th September, all staff, students, visitors, contractors and members of the public will be required to wear face coverings inside all University buildings, unless exempt for medical reasons. This will include communal areas in colleges and University chapels and prayer rooms.

The University’s risk management document recommends that deaf-friendly face coverings with a clear panel or face shields with chin guards should be considered “to prevent isolation and loneliness for staff and students who lip read to support communication”. 

The document also states that University members are encouraged to “not engage in conversations in circulation space” as it “narrows the walkways making social distancing more difficult”. 

Use of buildings

Staff and students will need to be authorised to access the campus, and a process for this is already in place. The use of lifts in buildings will also be discouraged, but priority will be given to those who are unable to use the stairs.

Isolation rooms have been made available in each University building for University members to use if they are experiencing any of the three main Covid-19 symptoms. Suitable facilities, such as a small meeting room with openable windows, have been identified in each building. Face coverings and infra-red thermometers will also be made available at reception points. 

Food and drink at the university

The university manages 10 cafés and restaurants in its premises, including in teaching spaces, as well as in the Botanic Garden, Maiden Castle and on Palace Green. 

These will likely operate through click and collect on an app, currently in testing stage. Cafés will be offering the full range of packaged products, and both hot and cold beverages. Limited seating will be available in branded retail catering outlets.

The guidance on the use of college dining and bar spaces is still “under development”. A recent announcement from University College, however, provided some insight into what college life may look like in the new term.

Support services, including counselling, an employee assistance programme and Silver Cloud, a digital mental health platform, will be made available to all students and staff.

Image: Durham University

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