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Protesters gather on Georgia college campuses to protest lack of mask warrants

Protesters are demanding mask warrants at all Georgia state-funded universities, with protests set to take place on 17 campuses, according to the Georgian chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP).

“The only thing we want to achieve is an immediate mask tenure,” said Georgia Conference AAUP president Matthew Boedy.

In late July, system officials urged students to get vaccinated and recommended the use of a mask.

“Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering inside campus facilities,” a press release said. “The system continues to work closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to prioritize the health and safety of our campus communities. “

Boedy announced the series of protests in a letter to Acting Chancellor of Georgia’s university system, Teresa MacCartney.

He said the protests were aimed at “publicly shaming” the USG and the Board of Regents.

“We are having a weeklong protest as opposed to a daylong protest because we want to disrupt the status quo as much as possible and we cannot strike, so we try to do it every day to have the system. academics are feeling the impact, ”said Boedy.

The protests began Monday morning and will take place every day of the week at a different time.

A video from Grady Newsource, a news organization made up of journalism students from the University of Georgia, showed several dozen people wearing masks during the protest on the Athens campus.

There was a smaller counter-demonstration, Grady Newsource reported.

Usree Bhattacharya is Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia in the Department of Language Education and Literacy. She has a small child who has health problems.

“It is high time that (the USG board of regents) did the right thing,” she said last week before the school called a football game with over 92,000 fans. “This is not the time for politics. This is not the time for ideology. This is the time for compassion.”

Protests on all 17 campuses were planned to minimize the impact on classes and students, as well as to comply with Georgian law, which prohibits strikes and work stoppages, according to Boedy.

“We told our faculty members involved that we couldn’t cancel, relocate or disrupt the class,” Boedy said.

Boedy said the Georgian section echoed the national AAUP’s message.

“It is appalling that some states prohibit institutions from implementing even the most basic public health and safety measures,” the national AAUP said in a statement. “By taking action, we can prevent disease and save lives,” the national AAUP said in a statement released last month.

Boedy’s plea to take precautions against Covid-19 is confirmed in his class at the University of North Georgia. Before the start of the school year, he sent a message to his students urging them to come to class masked and vaccinated.

“At this point, you are either vaxxed or you are infected,” Boedy said, adding that the Delta variant had been particularly difficult for young people.

It gave students the option to take the course remotely if they didn’t feel comfortable taking classes in person amid the wave of Delta variations. Boedy has declared his own intention to wear a mask and practice social distancing, begging his students to be respectful.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, more than 80,700 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the past two weeks. Only 45% of Georgia residents aged 12 and over are fully immunized.

In August, Republican Governor Brian Kemp encouraged Georgians to get vaccinated and announced a grant to encourage state employees. He said the state would not order any mask warrants.

In the case of K-12 schools, he said decisions about masks should be made by local authorities.

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Eric Levenson, Pamela Kirkland and Jade Gordon contributed to this report.