ATLANTA - The University System of Georgia is doing everything it can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 short of imposing a mask mandate, the system’s acting chancellor said Thursday.

The system’s policy encouraging but not requiring students, professors and other employees to get vaccinated and wear masks is in keeping with Gov. Brian Kemp’s position that mandates are divisive, and people should be given a choice.

“Everybody has the ability to get vaccinated,” Acting Chancellor Teresa MacCartney told the system’s Board of Regents. “Everybody has the ability to wear a mask.”

The university system’s decision not to require vaccinations or masks comes as COVID-19 cases continue increasing at some of the system’s 26 colleges and universities.

Some faculty groups have passed resolutions demanding mask mandates in indoor spaces where social distancing is difficult and have held demonstrations on some campuses.

MacCartney encouraged those demanding mask mandates to remain civil.

“I understand the concerns of some on our campuses and in our communities,” she said. “[But] attacking our presidents and campus administrators is not productive. It will not affect how we make decisions.”

MacCartney outlined steps the university system has taken to discourage the spread of the virus since classes began last month. She said the campuses have distributed 432,000 masks, 942,000 gloves, more than 1,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and more than 313,000 COVID-19 tests.

Most campuses are offering incentives to encourage vaccinations, and turnout at on-campus vaccination sites is on the rise, she said.

“It is an all-court press, and it will continue as long as we battle this pandemic,” she said.

MacCartney said surveys of students and parents found overwhelming support for resuming in-person classes this semester. The campuses shut down in March of last year when the coronavirus pandemic first struck Georgia, and students were forced to rely on virtual instruction.

“[Students] understand the challenges online learning had for them last year,” MacCartney said. “Being on campus, physically able to interact with professors, has a profound effect.”

Recommended for you

(1) comment

Thomas Hilliker, RIP

Really? "The University System of Georgia is doing everything it can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 short of imposing a mask mandate, the system’s acting chancellor said Thursday" - that's what your journalist made of this situation?

What USG could do is to respect the expertise and judgement of their faculty in the design and delivery of courses.

What USG could do is adhere to its own rules regarding vaccinations in a time of pandemic. See:

"4.8.1 Immunizations Against Disease During an Outbreak or Epidemic

During an epidemic or a threatened epidemic of any disease preventable by immunization at a University System of Georgia (USG) institution, and when an emergency has been declared by appropriate health authorities of this State, the President of the institution, in conjunction with the Chancellor and appropriate health authorities, may promulgate rules and regulations specifying diseases against which immunizations may be required.

Any individual who cannot show proof of immunity or adequate immunization and refuses to be immunized shall be excluded from any USG institution or facility until valid evidence of immunization against the disease is presented or the epidemic or threat no longer constitutes a significant public health danger."

What USG SHOULD so is: implement a mask mandate, allow for flexibility in the delivery mode of courses, and adhere to their own rules in time of pandemic.

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Trending Videos