ATHENS — A University of Georgia professor abruptly quit in the middle of class after a dispute with a student about wearing a mask, according to the university’s newspaper.
The Red & Black reported that Irwin Bernstein, who is an 88-year-old retiree-rehire, resigned on Tuesday. Bernstein was teaching an upper division psychology seminar when a student arrived at a 25-person class without a mask. It was the second day of class, and she had not attended the first day.
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The student was given a mask, but she refused to wear it over her nose, saying that she couldn’t breathe. He asked her a second time and she ignored him, according to the Red & Black.
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Students told the Red & Black that “No mask, no class” was written on the board.
In an email to the Red & Black, Bernstein said he told the student that he had underlying health conditions and was at greater risk for dying of COVID-19. Bernstein had already been informed that two of his absent students had tested positive.
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“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,” Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black. “I then resigned my retiree-rehire position.”
Bernstein retired in 2011, but taught part time. He was set to teach two courses this semester, according to the Flagpole. The University of Georgia prohibits professors from requiring students to wear masks, although the university strongly encourages masks.
The course is required for psychology students to graduate. Students were left scrambling to find spots in other classes.
The University of Georgia has reported 447 cases of COVID-19 on campus since July 19.
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