Teachers fight mask ban - The New York Times

The Covid returns to university campuses On September 9, 2020, the main story of this newsletter was “ Coronavirus dormitories and supe...


On September 9, 2020, the main story of this newsletter was “Coronavirus dormitories and super spreaders. “

“As epidemics flourish due to illegal student parties and the virus spreads in dormitories, colleges are new meat packing plants, we wrote at the time.

Now, a year later, college campuses are starting to fill up again. Students always come together, as students usually do. But this year, the flashpoint is more about vaccines and mask warrants, and less about quarantines and distance learning.

The teachers are nervous, my colleague Anemona Hartocollis reports. Last year the rules could seem draconian, as students faced possible deportation for attending parties. But this year, as lecture halls fill up to capacity again, some educators crave clear, science-based advice.

“It feels like a rehearsal,” University of Michigan engineering professor Anemona Michael Atzmon told Anemona. “On the one hand, we have the vaccine. On the other hand, we have Delta.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities – often in states that voted for President Biden – have adopted at least some vaccination requirements, according to the Chronicle of higher education. Some colleges have taken things a little further, Politico reported, punishing students who resisted vaccination warrants.

But other universities, especially in Republican-led states, must circumvent state bans on masks or vaccination warrants. Teachers cannot force students to wear masks, or even ask those with Covid-like symptoms to leave the classroom.

Less than 50 percent of people of university age are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data

The University of North Georgia, for example, does not require its students to be vaccinated or masked this fall.

Matthew Boedy, an associate professor of rhetoric and composition at the university, made a raw emotional call for masking, telling students he would be masked and vaccinated. But few students understood the hint; more than two-thirds of freshmen in her writing class showed up without a mask.

“It’s not a visual hell landscape like hospitals, it’s more an emotional hell landscape,” Boedy said.

Many professors continue, but a Georgia State University professor has been fired for refusing to teach face-to-face students.

At the University of Georgia, Irwin Bernstein, an 88-year-old psychology professor, returned from retirement to teach this fall. When one student resisted his repeated calls to wear masks, he announced he was retiring – again – and walked out of the classroom.

“I had risked my life to defend my country in the air force” he told The Red & Black, a student publication, in an email. “I was not prepared to risk my life to teach a lesson with an unmasked student.”

Over 2,000 readers have weighed in on Anemona’s report, and you can read their comments here. Here are some edited excerpts:

  • If you put the professors in the position of arguing with the students about the masks, you will erode trust on both sides. And when the students don’t trust you, you can’t teach them. Thus, the goal of education is conquered before it begins. The administration must define and enforce policies relating to masks and vaccines. It should be obvious. – Maggie Wood, Ore., Who like Boedy also teaches rhetoric and composition.

  • These teachers have lost their bearings. If you are vaccinated, the risk of catching Covid goes from low to extremely low. The vaccinated can go on with their lives without all this hysteria. Those who choose not to be vaccinated put a strain on our health care system, but pose only a risk to one another in daily life. – August Coombs, Nova Scotia, Canada

  • I am a professor at a public university in Texas. Most of my students come to class in masks, but a handful don’t. I wouldn’t call it an emotional hellish landscape, but it’s psychologically heavy. Students who unmask themselves come out in ways that would have been hidden before. And their self-presentation has an effect on how I see them, even though I know I shouldn’t let it. – Catherine, Dallas

In other higher education pandemic news:


In the United States, approximately 48 million children are under the age of 12 and still ineligible for the vaccine. And the FDA may not be approving pediatric vaccinations anytime soon.

While the Delta variant inflates, and more children get seriously ill, parents struggle to figure out what to do with their unvaccinated children.

Some families keep their children at home. Others are also frustrated with a new school year marked by pandemic rules. And many just send their children to school, albeit reluctantly.

“If I had an option and I could keep them at home, keep the lights on and feed them, that would be a no-brainer,” said Isis Spann, 32, who cautiously sends her four children to school in anybody. Caroline from the south. “But it just doesn’t work for our family dynamic that way.”

In other news on the K-12 pandemic:



“Never has resilience – whether physical, mental, emotional or financial – been more important to our society than in the past year and a half, and never have I been so determined to pass it on to my son”, Erik Vance writes in our Parenting newsletter.

As a parent, you can foster resilience by establishing a secure foundation for your children and by molding patience. You should also let them take on the challenges on their own, big and small.

“Building resilience in kids isn’t just about throwing them to the bottom of a pool to see if they can swim,” Erik writes. “This is the foundation of the support you give them every day. “

Sign up here to receive the briefing by email.


PS We wanted to let you know about an essential subscriber-only live event: “What we know about children and Covid-19. “Dr. Anthony Fauci will join my colleagues at 1 p.m. EST, tomorrow, September 9, for a vital question-and-answer session for parents, educators and students around the world. RSVP here.

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