Durham University plans to provide all its staff and students with two reusable face masks each for the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
The announcement, made today in an email by Clare O’Malley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), also “strongly recommend[ed] that if you can wear a face covering, you should do so in circulation areas of our buildings”.
The University does not plan to make face coverings mandatory on campus, because those with certain health conditions and disabilities cannot be made to wear them.
The announcement comes shortly after the Government announced that face coverings will become compulsory in shops from 24th July. The wearing of masks has been mandatory on public transport in the UK since 15th June.
As well as encouraging the wearing of masks, the 2m social distancing rule will continue to be applied “as far as is reasonably practicable” across all activities.
The University plans to “ensure that [students] continue to receive a high-quality blended education, that [they] can participate in a wealth of student enrichment activity including sports, societies and volunteering”.
O’Malley also announced that the University Executive (UE) will now permit “‘essential’ international travel” for staff and students to those countries marked as exempt on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office restricted travel list.
The message acknowledged that “There remains a significant and continuing risk of further lockdowns in the UK and abroad”, and attention was drawn to the risk of staff and students overseas once again being “unable to return home”. O’Malley urged those considering travel to assess health and safety risks associated with that activity and location.
Those with study or working abroad placements for the upcoming year have been told to await instruction from the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and the International Office “in the coming days”.
The University’s policy of travel cover will be restricted. Disruption, cancellation, delays, rearrangement and curtailment of travel due to Covid-19 will not be covered by the University, and travellers are encouraged to “plan carefully to mitigate risks related to these possible disruptions”.
However, emergency medical cover (including Covid-19 related) will be in place for 2020/21.
Image: Maddie Flisher