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University of Georgia professor, 88, QUITS mid-class after student refuses to wear mask

Psychology professor Irwin Bernstein, 88, had informed his class of his ‘no mask, no class’ policy  – due to his age, Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension, he told students, he could die if he contracted the virus. Before his resignation on Tuesday, Bernstein had taught in the psychology department since 1968

A University of Georgia professor walked out of the classroom and announced he is quitting when a student refused to pull her mask up over her nose last Tuesday.

Psychology professor Irwin Bernstein, 88, had informed the class of his ‘no mask, no class’ policy verbally and on the white board at the front of his classroom. Due to his age, Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension, he told students, he could die if he contracted the virus.

Bernstein, an Air Force veteran who has taught at the school since 1968, said he was told by the head of his department that he could not enforce his mask policy upon students, in an email to The Red & Black, the student newspaper. 

The final straw came when a student who was not present on the first day of the upper-level psychology class showed up to class unmasked. When Bernstein asked her to get a mask from the school’s advising office, she was lent one by another student. 

She pulled the mask up over her mouth, but not her nose. When Bernstein implored her to wear the covering correctly, she complained that she ‘couldn’t breath’ and ‘had a really hard time breathing’ with cloth over both her mouth and nose. 

Fifteen minutes into the lecture, after Bernstein took student attendance, he once again asked the student to correctly affix her mask. The student reportedly did not respond. 

‘That’s it. I’m retired,’ the professor said, student Hannah Huff told the student news publication, and the class watched him pack up his things and leave. 

'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,' Professor Irvin Bernstein (pictured right) said of the incident in an email to The Red & Black.

‘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,’ Professor Irvin Bernstein (pictured right) said of the incident in an email to The Red & Black.

'I then resigned my retiree-rehire position... Resignation was an all or none decision,' Bernstein (pictured left)  said to University of Georgia's student publication after he walked out of a class when a student refused to wear her mask. 'I felt some relief as I had been getting more concerned as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in recent weeks.'

‘I then resigned my retiree-rehire position… Resignation was an all or none decision,’ Bernstein (pictured left)  said to University of Georgia’s student publication after he walked out of a class when a student refused to wear her mask. ‘I felt some relief as I had been getting more concerned as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in recent weeks.’

‘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… Resignation was an all or none decision … I felt some relief as I had been getting more concerned as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in recent weeks.’

MailOnline could not reach Bernstein for comment on the incident. 

Other students then confronted their anti-mask classmate, telling her, ‘You know we need this class to graduate, right?’

One of the 25 other students in the classroom, none of whom reportedly took issue with the professor’s stance on mask usage, told the student paper that the offending student laughed and said, ‘Well, this is a blessing in disguise.’

‘She’s talking about some “blessing in disguise cr*p like ma’am I’m just trying to graduate,’ Huff tweeted later that day. 

 ‘The damage is done. Obviously she has her values, and they’re clearly not going to change even when someone asked you to do something that will make them feel comfortable,’ Huff said to the student newspaper. 

One of the 25 other students in the classroom, none of whom reportedly took issue with the professor's stance on mask usage, told the student paper that the offending student laughed and said, 'Well, this is a blessing in disguise.'

One of the 25 other students in the classroom, none of whom reportedly took issue with the professor’s stance on mask usage, told the student paper that the offending student laughed and said, ‘Well, this is a blessing in disguise.’

'The damage is done,' student Hannah Huff, whose tweet is pictured, told the University of Georgia's student newspaper. 'Obviously she has her values, and they¿re clearly not going to change even when someone asked you to do something that will make them feel comfortable.'

‘The damage is done,’ student Hannah Huff, whose tweet is pictured, told the University of Georgia’s student newspaper. ‘Obviously she has her values, and they’re clearly not going to change even when someone asked you to do something that will make them feel comfortable.’

‘Bernstein is there for you [the student]. Like, he came out of retirement to do something for us, but you just can’t take it out of the kindness of your heart to put a piece of fabric on properly.’

 UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor said that all of the students in the class, all upperclassmen who needed to complete the course to graduate, were moved to other sections. 

‘This is not what I signed up for. This was not my original plan for my final semester here. It’s heartbreaking. It’s surreal,’ Huff said. 

‘I kept thinking to myself, “There’s no way this is happening.” There was definitely hidden hostility in that room, and I do feel a little bit of anger toward this girl, but mainly agitation.’

 The university ‘strongly encourages’ mask usage, but does not mandate it.

The UGA chapter of employee union United Campus Workers of Georgia protested the school’s refusal to implement mask or vaccine mandates on Friday, days after Bernstein’s resignation, toting signs and wearing black in a ‘funeral for common sense.’

 ‘If you’re at Harvard or Yale or Duke or one of these other places, the assumption is one day you might be a, you know, a billionaire, a Supreme Court justice, a president, a CEO of a major corporation, and no one’s going to take a chance with your life,” union Co-President Paul Grant told The Red & Black

‘If you’re at UGA or Tech or Georgia State or Georgia Gwinnett, apparently you’re not as important.’

A student plays on University of Georgia's bulldog mascot on his sign at a protest against his school's lack of mask or vaccine mandates held on Friday. The 'funeral for common sense' protest was held on campus days after Professor Bernstein resigned due to his student's refusal to mask up

A student plays on University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot on his sign at a protest against his school’s lack of mask or vaccine mandates held on Friday. The ‘funeral for common sense’ protest was held on campus days after Professor Bernstein resigned due to his student’s refusal to mask up

'If you¿re at Harvard or Yale or Duke or one of these other places, the assumption is one day you might be a, you know, a billionaire, a Supreme Court justice, a president, a CEO of a major corporation, and no one¿s going to take a chance with your life,¿ Co-President of the University's United Campus Workers of Georgia Union Paul Grant told The Red & Black . 'If you¿re at UGA or Tech or Georgia State or Georgia Gwinnett, apparently you¿re not as important'

‘If you’re at Harvard or Yale or Duke or one of these other places, the assumption is one day you might be a, you know, a billionaire, a Supreme Court justice, a president, a CEO of a major corporation, and no one’s going to take a chance with your life,” Co-President of the University’s United Campus Workers of Georgia Union Paul Grant told The Red & Black . ‘If you’re at UGA or Tech or Georgia State or Georgia Gwinnett, apparently you’re not as important’

A lone counter protester opposed students and faculty at Friday's 'funeral for common sense' protest against the school's lack of vaccine and mask mandates on the University of Georgia campus. The protest came days after Bernstein's very-public resignation

A lone counter protester opposed students and faculty at Friday’s ‘funeral for common sense’ protest against the school’s lack of vaccine and mask mandates on the University of Georgia campus. The protest came days after Bernstein’s very-public resignation

Professor Bernstein, according to the University, had taught in the psychology department since 1968. Although he retired from his position in 2011, he still taught part-time until the Tuesday incident.  

Vaccines are administered for free on campus, and the university has given out 24,750 thus far. 

According to the school’s ‘DawgCheck’ COVID tracker, 231 positive cases were recorded on campus for the week of August 22, more than double the 104 reported in the previous week.  Of the positives, 97 percent were students. 

University of Georgia psychology Professor Dr. Janet Frick wrote that teachers had no grasp of how many students were vaccinated, as the Board of Regents has forbidden them from asking

University of Georgia psychology Professor Dr. Janet Frick wrote that teachers had no grasp of how many students were vaccinated, as the Board of Regents has forbidden them from asking

 ‘Last year during the equivalent week, the number of positive tests was 180… but the following week it jumped to 900,’ wrote UGA’s Dr. Janet Frick, also a member of the psychology department, on Twitter. ‘So… stay tuned.’

Frick wrote that teachers had no grasp of how many students were vaccinated, as the Board of Regents has forbidden them from asking. 


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