Georgia College Instructor Quits After Student Refuses to Mask Up: 'Teachers Die Trying'

A professor at Georgia College & State University resigned from her position after a student refused to wear a mask in her class—saying that the school policy is "in opposition to all science and reason" and that it "literally becomes teachers die trying."

Meridith Styer, who teaches rhetoric at Georgia College & State University, asked one student to mask up because she had a family member who could die if they contracted COVID-19, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Friday.

The University System of Georgia reportedly doesn't have a mask mandate for students and faculty in classrooms, which the student cited when asked to mask up—telling his professor "I respectfully decline to do it."

The student, who was unnamed in fear of retaliation, told the school dean that Styer kicked him out. However, he told the newspaper that Styer encouraged him to find another class after he refused to mask up.

"While she did not explicitly say I was kicked out of class, her body posture, her pointed facial expression and her tone of voice made that clear," he said.

Newsweek contacted Georgia College & State University for comments, but didn't receive a response by the time of publishing. A Georgia College spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the school " strongly encourages all faculty, staff and students to wear face masks while indoors regardless of vaccination status."

"I am leaving because of USG policy and the way it's being enforced on Georgia College's campus," said Styer, who was supposed to teach four classes at the school, according to the newspaper. "The USG's policies caused me to make this choice and I would make the same choice to put family above my job again."

"When it became clear that the university was going to seek 'both sides' instead of supporting me, I decided my chosen side was to resign," said Styer.

She also added that the college policy posed a threat to two of her students who are immunocompromised and had to attend classes with unmasked students.

"I want to be very clear, I resigned because of USG policy that made it unsafe to work at Georgia College as a faculty member or to learn at Georgia College as a student," she added.

Public campuses in Georgia, Atlanta don't have mask or vaccine mandates in effect, according to 11Alive. The lack of mandates are reportedly putting professors at risk of losing their jobs.

Cody Luedtke, a professor at Georgia State University who was set to teach biology labs, was asked to resign after she wrote a letter to the department stating that she refuses to teach in-person classes where students aren't required to wear masks.

"I had offered to teach online or face-to-face with a mask mandate... and after I didn't resign, I was fired by the end of the week and my last day was Friday," said Luedtke, according to 11Alive.

Irwin Bernstein, a retiree-rehire psychology professor at the University of Georgia (UGA) also resigned because of a student who refused to properly wear her face mask.

The 88-year-old professor had a "No mask, No class" sign on his board which all students saw when they arrived in his classroom. He tried to explain the unnamed student that he has underlying medical conditions and contracting COVID could kill him.

"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."

Georgia professor quits over masking
Stock photo. A professor at Georgia College & State University resigned from her position after a student refused to wear a mask in her class—saying that the school policy is "in opposition to all science and reason" and that it "literally becomes teachers die trying." istock/Getty/Canberk Sezer