Fifty University of Georgia science professors have banded together and said they will mandate masks in their classrooms, despite the fact that the University System of Georgia (USG) says students do not have to wear masks.
“We are deeply devoted to the education and well-being of all members of the University community and feel obligated to protect our students and fellow employees from the unnecessary dangers associated with inappropriate public health planning and messages,” the professors reportedly wrote in a letter to administrators.
“In order to protect our students, staff and faculty colleagues, we will wear masks and will require all of our students and staff to wear masks in our classes and laboratories until local community transmission rates improve,” the letter continued.
Many professors in Georgia have protested the lack of mask mandates on USG campuses.
Two professors at the University of North Georgia resigned in protest in August, citing health concerns.
The official policy of the school system is to strongly recommend mask wearing, but not force it upon students. It also urged students to get vaccinated against the virus.
In response to the protest, USG again reiterated its position.
“USG remains committed to keeping all our campus communities healthy and safe. This is a responsibility we take very seriously,” it reportedly said in a statement. “We urge vaccination for everyone and strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask or face covering while inside campus facilities.”
It is unclear whether the teachers will face any ramifications for breaking USG’s rules.
In August, Gov. Brian P. Kemp (R) banned businesses from implementing mask mandates.
However, even in K-12 schools, he has left the decisions about masking up to local communities.
“I’ve really been a local control governor when it comes to education,” he told WTVM in August. You’ve got a local elected school board. You’ve got an elected, statewide school superintendent, state board of education. You know, we worked with our superintendents and educational leaders last year and they handled things really well. I’m trusting them to do that again.”
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