Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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Georgia Colleges Hit by Pro-Mask Mandate Protests

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The lack of mask mandates at Georgia public universities has led to faculty staging a series of protests, hoping to have COVID-19 safety protocols enforced.

Week-long demonstrations are planned at all University System of Georgia campuses, with protesters demanding mask mandates at all state-funded institutions. Concerns continue to grow, as less than 50 percent of Georgia residents have been vaccinated.

CBS 46 reported that 20 colleges and universities under the system have been prohibited from requiring students to wear face masks. Georgia House Democrats held a press conference Monday and reached out to both Governor Brian Kemp and the Board of Regents to lift the ban.

“The one thing we want to achieve is an immediate mask mandate,” said Matthew Boedy, the president of the American Association of University Professors in Georgia.

Georgia’s Vaccination Status

The protests were announced in a letter written by Boedy to interim University System of Georgia Chancellor Teresa MacCartney. He stated that the demonstrations would be held to “publicly shame” the university system and the regents for their decision, but that they would do their best to minimize the impact on student education. 

“We’re doing a week-long protest as opposed to a one-day protest because we want to disrupt the status quo as much as possible and we can’t strike, so we’re trying to do it every day to have the university system feel the impact,” Boedy said.

“We told our faculty members involved that we could not cancel, move or disrupt class,” he added.

Grady Newsource, a news organization consisting of University of Georgia (UGA) journalism students, tweeted a video showing dozens of people wearing masks gathered on the Athens campus.

Usree Bhattacharya, an assistant professor at UGA, is fighting for a mask mandate because her child has health issues. She said, “It is high time that they (the Board of Regents of the USG) do the right thing. This is not a time for politics. It is not a time for ideology. It is time for compassion.”

Georgia’s Vaccination Status

In July, officials from the university system merely recommended students be inoculated and encouraged them to use masks during class. 

“Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering while inside campus facilities. The system continues to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to prioritize the health and safety of our campus communities,” the system stated in a news release.

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