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USG Reverses Course, Will Require Masks on Campus

USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley.

The University System of Georgia announced Monday night that it will now require all faculty, staff and students to wear a mask indoors, except when alone, and in situations where social distancing is not possible.

Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.

Face coverings are not required in one’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met.

Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students.

Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

USG institutions like the University of Georgia were among just a few universities nationwide that did not include mandatory masks among their health regulations for resuming in-person classes this fall. Students, faculty and staff have been pressuring USG to change its stance on masks. Public health experts say masks can help reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

Gov. Brian Kemp traveled the state last week urging Georgians to wear masks in public, but has repeatedly said requiring them is a step to far for him.

Some cities are defying Kemp, who has forbidden local governments from enacting stronger protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson recently issued an emergency order requiring masks, and Kemp has said he won’t challenge it. The Athens-Clarke County Commission will consider a similar emergency ordinance Tuesday.