Faculty, staff rally across University System of Georgia for mask mandate

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Protesters demand Georgia Board of Regents implement mask mandate

Faculty and staff say it is time for another mask mandate on college campuses across Georgia. Monday, they kicked off what will be a week of protests at Georgia State, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and other state university system schools.

Some faculty and staff kicked off what is scheduled to be a week of demonstrations at several University System of Georgia campuses Monday.

The participants want the Board of Regents, which governs the university system's 26 schools, to reinstitute a mask mandate.  

The BOR required people to wear masks indoors on USG campuses last school year, but dropped the mandate in May of this year after the CDC said vaccinated people could go without face coverings.

Dr. Janet Frick, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia said that BOR should bring that requirement back because of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state.

"The numbers just don't support taking a 'Well, if you feel like it' approach," said Dr. Frick. "We need our leaders at our university to speak in favor of science-based policy and we need the governor and the Board of Regents to institute policies that are scientific and evidence-based."

Dr. Frick also called on the university system to mandate vaccines.

The UGA event drew a significant number of counter-protestors outside of the Tate Student Center.

"Clarke County, GA [is] 55% unvaccinated.  It's their choice," argued Mike Francis, who is working on his PhD at UGA.   "They've made that choice for whatever American reasons that they want to make it."

The demonstration at Georgia State University Monday was much smaller, but Jaque-Corey Cormier, who is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Public Health, said their student demographics make the issue even more critical.

"We pull more than just the 18 to 25 year olds," Cormier explained.  "We pull parents.  We pull people who are going back to school in their later years, veterans and also people who still live with their parents or live with young children.  So, for Georgia State especially this issue has a different sort of importance."  

He said the campus being located in the middle of the City of Atlanta and not isolated from the larger community is another reason for more precautions.  

More protests are planned every day this week.  

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