A professor from the University of Georgia announced his resignation in the middle of a class after a student failed to follow his requests of wearing a face mask over her nose properly amid the coronavirus pandemic surge in the region.
The 88-year-old professor, identified as Professor Irwin Bernstein, told the University of Georgia's students newspaper, that one of his students went into class without a face mask on the second day of school. Despite a classmate giving her a mask to wear, she refused, arguing it was difficult to breathe when the mask covered her nose.
Georgia Professor Quits
The professor repeatedly asked the student to wear her face mask properly while out in public, but she refused. Bernstein, who taught psychology, said he risked his life in service to the Air Force to defend the United States and was not willing to teach a class where a student was unwilling to properly protect herself and those around her, Yahoo News reported.
Bernstein announced to his class during the first day of school that he required students to wear face masks, putting a "No mask, no class" message at the front of the classroom, one of the professor's students said. He explained that he had underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes that made him more susceptible to the coronavirus infection.
However, despite the professor's repeated warnings and recommendations, the student did not wear her face mask properly. Minutes into the seminar, Bernstein announced his resignation, saying, "That's it. I'm retired." A student said the class watched the professor pack all of his papers into his bag and walk out of the classroom.
A similar incident occurred when Meridith Styer, who taught rhetoric at Georgia College & State University, requested a student to wear his face mask properly. The professor argued that she had a family member who was considered high-risk and could die from the virus quickly if they became infected, Newsweek reported.
Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia
However, the student said that the University System of Georgia did not mandate students to wear face masks in classrooms. When asked by Styer to cover his face, the student said, "I respectfully decline to do it."
Later, the student said that the professor did not explicitly tell him to get out of the class but noted that Styer's body posture, her expression, and her tone of voice made it clear to him that she wanted her out of the classroom.
The incidents come as Dr. Stephanie Jones pushed schools to protect their students and staff from natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic. She argued that many educational establishments did not have mask mandates, which put them at risk as emergency procedures called for employees and students to huddle up in small, poorly ventilated places. She said that places designed to keep Georgians safe in the event of natural disasters could be making them vulnerable to the health crisis.
Jones said it was concerning that officials decided to continue to have students go to in-person learning amid a health pandemic with nearly zero precautions to protect them. She argued the coronavirus has been mutating and has only grown deadlier since the beginning of the pandemic, AJC reported.