Given Georgia hospitals are at capacity with sick COVID patients, it’s alarming our public colleges and universities are opening without mask mandates. It speaks to the power of state-level politics to coerce college leaders to endanger their students and staffs even though they know better.
As the AJC reported, Acting Chancellor Teresa MacCartney told the Regents last week the University System is recommending people get vaccinated, noting that’s been the advice from Gov. Brian Kemp, who has been adamant he won’t enact any statewide mandates. The schools have signs posted on their campuses asking people to wear masks if they have not received the vaccine.
Here is a letter signed by nearly 4,000 faculty, staff and students to MacCartney and Board of Regents Chairman Sachin Shailendra. Many of the signees are in the science fields.
Dear Chancellor MacCartney and Chairman Shailendra,
I am writing on behalf of the USG Regents Advisory Council for Biological Sciences and the over 3,600 signers of the following Open Letter:
The slow rate of vaccination in the state of Georgia has exacerbated the risk of COVID infections from the Delta and other variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Safely returning to face-to-face instruction on USG campuses requires mitigation of risk for COVID disease. The two most effective means for COVID risk mitigation are vaccination and use of ASTM2- or ASTM3-rated face masks in indoor settings. As life scientists, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID disease fall in our domain of expertise.
We have a duty to our students and to our faculty and staff colleagues to maintain their health and safety. We also have a duty to counter misinformation and politicization about topics within our expertise; such misinformation and politicization prevents a safe environment for learning and working. We call on the BOR to require vaccinations against COVID-19 for all students, faculty, and staff of USG, in accordance with current BOR policy.
We further call on the BOR to follow CDC guidelines and allow presidents of individual USG campuses in areas of substantial or high community transmission to require ASTM2 or ASTM3 rated face masks in campus indoor settings.
The undersigned agree and support the recommendations of the Biological Sciences Advisory Council to require vaccinations and masking in indoor public spaces on USG facilities.
For a more accurate count of signatures, please refer to this live link:
We ask that you please share this Open Letter with the Board members, and it is our hope that the University System of Georgia Board of Regents will reconsider the current COVID mitigations in light of these recommendations.
Indiren Pillay, PhD
Past Chair, USG Regents Advisory Council for Biological Sciences