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Mask Resolution Passed by UNG Faculty Senate

Mask Resolution Passed by UNG Faculty Senate

On Friday, Aug. 27 the University of North Georgia Faculty Senate held a vote on a resolution to mandate masks indoors. The meeting was called upon after the resignation of two UNG professors the prior week due to the lack of COVID-19 regulations in the university. The resolution passed with 43 yeas, 5 nays and 2 abstentions.

The passing of this resolution calls on UNG President, Bonita Jacobs, and chancellor for the University System of Georgia, Teresa MacCartney, to mandate staff and students to follow the CDC recommended mask guidelines.

Merrill Morris, a Department of Communications Professor and Secretary on the Faculty Senate said, “Not enough people got vaccinated, and many had come to believe somehow that wearing a mask infringed on their personal freedom. It would be like someone saying, I don’t like wearing glasses, even though I need them when I drive, so I’m going to drive without them. It’s my personal freedom. That’s not how democracy works.”

The current CDC guidelines state that masks should be worn inside for the unvaccinated. Vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask in indoor settings of high transmission. According to the CDC; Hall, Lumpkin, Oconee, Forsyth, and Fannin counties, which house UNG campuses, are all considered high transmission areas.

Morris said, “For me, the biggest challenge teaching without a mask requirement is the fear I feel every time I walk into my classrooms.”

UNG professors are not allowed to require students to wear masks in their classrooms and can not ask students about their vaccination status. Allowing for students and faculty members to have this choice is what led to the resignation of the professors.

Morris said, “We were concerned that having no requirements for either masks or vaccines would cause a safety issue for everyone at UNG.”

Some professors and students have other personal reasons as to why a mask mandate would be beneficial. Some have small children, who can’t be vaccinated right now. Others may personally have health conditions or family members who do that could make the vaccine unadvisable or more likely that they’ll contract a bad case of COVID.

“I normally love teaching in person. This year it just makes me depressed.” – Morris

While the resolution was passed, it is only a request to enforce the mandate.

UNG is a member of the University System of Georgia and the resolution is a system-level policy matter.

“I would like for the Board of Regents and the Acting Chancellor to take our resolution seriously, but I don’t think they will,” said Morris.

For the time being UNG can only continue to emphasize the importance of masks, vaccines, and other protocols.

“Personally, I was very excited to return in person with the option of wearing a mask. I thought it was a great way to make everyone happy since people start to feel attacked when their choice is taken away, but if a mask mandate will allow us to stay in person, then I will wear one,” said a UNG student, “Until that point happens, I will choose to not wear a mask as a vaccinated individual.”

UNG encourages students to get vaccinated, which can be done on campus. Students can schedule an appointment directly through Student Health Services located on the Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses.

In addition to getting vaccinated, Jacobs has issued a new vaccine incentive starting Aug. 18 through Oct. 15, 2021. All students, faculty, and staff who get fully vaccinated at an on-campus vaccination site will be eligible to win $20 and a UNG t-shirt.

Any students, faculty, and staff members who are already vaccinated can submit their name to be eligible to win one of 50 $1,000 awards. Enter to win at UNG’s website under the Nighthawks Together tab.



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Mask Resolution Passed by UNG Faculty Senate