The University System, which oversees operations at 26 public colleges and universities, previously said it was following state and federal guidelines to “strongly” encourage students and faculty to wear a facial covering.
Georgia’s guidelines, though, were counter to its neighboring states, critics countered. The flagship universities of each state bordering Georgia are requiring everyone to wear a face covering in classrooms and some other spaces.
“After embarrassing media attention and a spike in cases in the state, the University System came to its senses,” University of North Georgia associate professor Matt Boedy, conference president of the Georgia chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said via email late Monday. “It is following the science, not the politics. It is listening to its faculty, staff, and students, who flooded it with pleas. Masks are essential to stopping this virus. Campuses will be safer because of this move.”
Anyone who refuses to wear a mask must leave the area, and repeated refusals may result in disciplinary action, University System officials said.
The University System’s rules do not apply to students in their own dorm rooms, when alone in a study room or in outdoor settings where social distancing rules are met. Accommodations will be made for students unable to wear a mask for documented health reasons.