Face coverings will now be required in all University teaching and assessment settings, including libraries and departmental study spaces.

An Oxford University newsletter, distributed this morning, informs students that face coverings will now be required for those not exempt in all University teaching and assessment spaces, as well as libraries. Staff, however, will not be required to wear masks whilst teaching. The policy update comes as the University acknowledges the “high rates of COVID-19 across the UK, driven by the Omicron variant”.

The University also confirmed that they “expect most teaching to take place in-person this term, and for all University assessments to go ahead in their planned format”. In occasions where either staff or students are unable to attend teaching due to COVID-19, “departments will work to put alternative arrangements in place in these instances”. Research students will also be permitted to conduct research on site.

The newsletter also updates students on testing guidance for returning to Oxford at the start of Hilary, stating, “it is very important that you take an LFD test less than 24 hours before you return to Oxford”.  Students will be expected to take a test a day after arrival and another three days after arrival. The University acknowledged the ongoing national shortage of LFD tests, but assured those concerned that “they are available at the University and in colleges”.

The news comes on the heels of a government announcement that masks will be required in secondary school classrooms. The measure, intended to reduce the spread of Omicron, is being considered temporary, and will only apply until the 26th January without renewal. 

The University was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication. Further updates may be made to this story.