Georgia College professor resigns over no mask mandate on campus

Meredith Styer says she resigned because the college failed to back her up on the mask issue.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — As COVID-19 cases continue to spike, Georgians are still debating masks in schools, businesses and other public places.

At Georgia College in Milledgeville, one professor resigned after a classroom dispute with a student.

She says she's protesting the University System of Georgia's failure to mandate masks for all, but the college says they're following the state and CDC guidance.

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Meredith Styer, who was starting her third year as a communications professor this summer, says she has a family member with serious health problems who can't get vaccinated.

That's why she asked all her students this year to mask up. 

In a class last month, all 80 students wore masks... except one.

Styer says she resigned because the college failed to back her up on the mask issue.

"This is about a policy that absolutely puts students at risk in opposition to the agreed upon consensus of public health and epidemiology experts," said Styer.

Georgia College replied with a statement saying they strongly encourage all faculty, staff and students to wear face masks while indoors.

It also says they're encouraging vaccinations for all and they are following state and CDC guidelines, but they are not requiring masks on campus.

13WMAZ spoke to two Georgia College students, Sara Meredith and Madeline Gregory, who were split on requiring masks. 

"It's important for all of us to get vaccinated and put on masks, just so we can help protect those who can't or who are immunocompromised," said Gregory.

"I think that could be required, but I do believe the N95 are what prevent it and if we can't all have those, then it shouldn't be required," said Meredith.

Styer says she's not sure about her next career move, but she wants to keep talking about the need for masks at Georgia colleges.

"The USG could implement policies that stop the spread of COVID-19 but they've chosen instead to let 18 year old's with no experience or understanding hold hostage the health of entire communities," said Styer.

The United Campus Workers of Georgia, which represents faculty and staff at public colleges, is asking the Board of Regents to require masks for all.

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They've scheduled a series of protests next week at campuses statewide. They're also plan a "die-in" this Thursday, the date of the next Regents meeting.

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