Professor quits during class as student refuses to wear a mask

Professor quits during class as student refuses to wear a mask
The professor said he could die from Covid-19 as he had underlying health conditions

A professor at the University of Georgia abruptly resigned during an ongoing class after a student allegedly refused to wear a mask properly, according to the college’s newspaper.

Irwin Bernstein, an 88-year-old retiree-rehire professor of psychology, had asked his students to follow a “no mask, no class” policy, which was written at the front of the room.

Several cities in Georgia have reinstated mask mandate amid a spike in Covid-19 cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus.

The university, however, “strongly encourages” but does not mandate face masks inside the campus. During the second class of the semester on Tuesday when a student arrived unmasked, Mr Bernstein asked her to collect one from the advising office. However, when one student handed her a disposable mask, the mask-less student wore it without covering her nose stating breathing difficulties.

The professor then explained that he could die from Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related problems.

After 15 minutes, he again asked the student to pull her mask up, but she did not pay heed. Mr Bernstein then announced his resignation and walked out of the class.

“At that point, I said that whereas I had risked my life to defend my country while in the Air Force, I was not willing to risk my life to teach a class with an unmasked student during this pandemic. I then resigned my retiree-rehire position,” Mr Bernstein said in an email to the college’s newspaper The Red & Black.

Hannah Huff, a fourth-year student, told the paper she sat at the front of the class in “shock, anger and silence” like the rest of her peers, trying to comprehend the developments.

“Professor Bernstein said, ‘That’s it. I’m retired,’ and we watched him pack all of his papers into his bag and walk out of the classroom,” Ms Huff told the newspaper.

Mr Bernstein’s abrupt resignation also caused panic among students who felt they wouldn’t be able to graduate as this seminar was a mandatory requirement for all psychology majors. All students affected by Mr Bernstein’s resignation were moved to a new section of their courses, according to university spokesperson Greg Trevor.

“I am sorry that the pandemic has caused so much dissension. I personally do not agree that stimulating the economy is more important than people’s lives and am disappointed that some people feel that it is,” Mr Bernstein added.


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