Oxford University and College Union (Oxford UCU) has launched a drive for volunteers to produce face coverings for University staff, in collaboration with Oxford Mutual Aid and Living Wage Oxford.

The launch of the mask drive for staff followed Oxford University’s announcement that masks will be compulsory for face-to-face teaching from October.

Oxford UCU tweeted: “We are pleased to see our persistence on the use of face coverings for face-to-face teaching and in indoor shared spaces being heard. The University of Oxford has announced that these will be required from October.

“We hope they will also be provided, and don’t understand why they are not required straight away with return to onsite working.”

The Oxford University website states: “From the start of the new academic year, face coverings will be required during face-to-face teaching and in indoor shared spaces, with exceptions for both individuals and settings where they are not appropriate (for example on grounds of disability). Details on how this will operate will be consulted on.”

Oxford Mutual Aid volunteers have been producing masks since April. As of mid-June, they had produced over 700 reusable machine-washing masks. Recipients include NHS workers, care home staff, teachers, refugees, and refugee workers in Calais.

A motion has been proposed at St Anne’s College to donate £100 to Oxford Mutual Aid to support their mask drive.

The motion believes: “1. Workers should be provided with adequate PPE if they are required to come into the workplace. 2. It is important to support community projects which are trying to fill the gaps left by employers and local government. 3. The whole community benefits from workers being protected and feeling safe at work.”

A recent study by the Oxford Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science concluded that face coverings are effective and should be part of public health recommendations.

Following the debate ignited by these findings, the UK government announced that face coverings will be compulsory in shops from 24th July. People not wearing coverings may face a £100 fine.

Oxford UCU and the University of Oxford have been contacted for comment.

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