Group demands Georgia universities require masks and vaccines

A group of Georgia University System students, staff, and faculty gathered outside the Board of Regents Tuesday to urge leaders to mandate masks and vaccines to slow the spread of the surging COVID-19 delta variant.

"I'm out here today to protest that we don't even have a mask mandate, there's no social distancing anymore," Catie Young said. She works with first through fourth-year students at one of Georgia's universities.

"We have very nervous students. They're worried about being in clusters with unvaccinated students in huge lecture classrooms," she said.

SEE ALSO: South Fulton implements mask mandate as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rise

Tuesday's rally coincided with the Board of Regents meeting. Mask mandates and vaccines were not on the agenda, but protesters say they should be.

"We understand some people won't get vaccinated for religious reasons. They should be tested weekly," Jill Penn said.

"Does it have to be a star football player that gets COVID, that can't breathe, that falls on the gridiron before they do a mandate?" Young asked.

The 26 University Systems of Georgia schools include UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, and the University of North Georgia, all of which have large student bodies that protesters say could be incubators for the virus that keeps changing.

SEE ALSO: South Georgia hospitals are filling up quickly, as delta variant spreads

That's why Young and others say the school system should not only require masks but also, vaccines.

"Section 4.8 in the handbook allows for mandates during the pandemic. We already require seven different vaccines for students, but they won't mandate it for covid-19," Young said.

While protesters said they wanted the change implemented Tuesday, they say they're not going to stop these demands if administrators don't act before classes begin. 

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