University System of Georgia students, faculty and staff plan to launch daily protests of the system’s lack of a mask mandate at campuses across the state starting Monday.
The plan was announced in an email to Acting Chancellor Teresa MacCartney this week.
Matthew Boedy, president of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors, complained that without a mask mandate to discourage the spread of COVID-19, many students, professors and staff are not following the system policy encouraging mask wearing.
“The USG and its Regents have ignored the [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], the state’s large cadre of public health professors, and what I am sure have been many private pleas from university administrators,” wrote Boedy, an associate professor at the University of North Georgia.
“Many of the state’s k-12 schools where our children attend have mandated masks. And yet even after pleas from the officials charged with the safety of those in that system, still the USG refuses.
“So cases skyrocket, hospitals fill, and deaths climb.”
“We will not sit idly by and watch this hellscape anymore.”
Protests have been scheduled on university system campuses in Atlanta, Albany, Augusta, Athens, Savannah, Columbus and other locations. Demonstrators will gather at different times each day.
“This is not a strike, work stoppage or ‘teach-out,’” Boedy wrote. “Classes will continue at their appointed time, and education will not cease.”
MacCartney defended the university system’s stand against mask mandates on Thursday during a meeting of the Board of Regents. She said the system’s colleges and universities spent months preparing to hold classes safely, including distributing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and COVID-19 tests.
“The health and safety protocols are in place,” she said.
Gov. Brian Kemp has opposed mask mandates on university campuses or in the workplace as divisive at a time Georgians need to work together to fight the spread of the virus.