The masked professor vs. the unmasked student (subscription)

By: | September 7, 2021

Matthew Boedy, an associate professor of rhetoric and composition, sent out a raw emotional appeal to his students at the University of North Georgia just before classes began: The Covid-19 Delta variant was rampaging through the state, filling up hospital beds. He would teach class in the equivalent of full body armor — vaccinated and masked.

So he was stunned in late August when more than two-thirds of the first-year students in his writing class did not take the hint and showed up unmasked.

It was impossible to tell who was vaccinated and who was not. “It isn’t a visual hellscape, like hospitals, it’s more of an emotional hellscape,” Dr. Boedy said.

North Georgia is not requiring its students to be vaccinated or masked this fall. And as in-person classes return at almost every university in the country, after almost a year and a half of emergency pivoting to online learning, many professors are finding teaching a nerve-racking experience.

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