In a reversal of its previous decision, the University System of Georgia will now require face masks on campus this fall.
All faculty, staff and students are required to wear a face covering while inside campus buildings beginning July 15, according to USG’s coronavirus page. Face masks will be used in addition to social distancing and aren’t a replacement for the 6 feet of distance between people.
USG’s earlier decision not to require face masks gained national attention in recent weeks. Georgia’s university system was an outlier — many other university systems and colleges nationwide had implemented a mandatory mask requirement. NPR, CNN and the Chronicle of Higher Education all reported on USG’s original decision.
Students and faculty at the University of Georgia also campaigned for a mandatory mask requirement after UGA’s 200-plus page reopening plan was released. The plan, which was created on May 22 and updated June 9, said that masks would be encouraged but not required.
A Twitter account called Mask On USG, one of whose founders is a UGA student, started a Google Form asking the Board of Regents to implement a mask rule. The account commended the decision to require face coverings but said there is still more the university should consider.
The account said those who qualify for accommodations in face-to-face instruction should include pregnant women, those with family members who are at risk, staff with young children or special needs children at home, and others.
Face masks will not be required within a student’s dorm suite or room, according to the USG website. Anyone on campus who is not using a face mask when required will be asked to put a mask on or leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply can result in disciplinary action for staff, faculty and students, according to the USG website.
Accommodations will be made for those who are unable to wear a mask due to health reasons, the USG website says.