88-year-old professor resigns after student refuses to wear face mask | Inquirer News

88-year-old professor resigns after student refuses to wear face mask

/ 04:43 PM August 29, 2021

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An 88-year-old professor from Georgia, United States resigned in the middle of class after one of his students refused to properly wear a face mask.

Professor Irwin Bernstein was teaching a class of graduating psychology students last week, Aug. 24, when one of his female students walked into the classroom without a mask, as per The Red and Black last Friday, Aug. 27.


The student (name withheld) was asked by Bernstein to get a face mask and was given a spare one by a classmate, but she refused to wear it over her nose. When asked to pull up her face mask, the student refused and complained that she “couldn’t breathe” and had a “really hard time breathing” with the cloth over her nose.


Bernstein then told the student that he could die from COVID-19 due to his underlying conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related health issues. He was also informed that two of his absent students tested positive for the coronavirus.

When Bernstein asked the student to pull her mask up again, she did not respond to him. He announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately.

“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,” the retiree-rehire professor said in a statement.

Bernstein explained that on his first day of in-person classes earlier this month, he told students he would teach under a “no mask, no class” policy. While the student was absent during the first day of Bernstein’s class, the elderly professor had written the policy on the room’s board, student Hannah Huff said in the report.

“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 was quoted as saying.

Bernstein added that he was getting more worried about the pandemic as it unfolded in the U.S., so his decision to resign gave him some relief. Meanwhile, all students affected by his resignation were moved to a new section of their courses.


The head of the school’s department reportedly told Bernstein that he could not enforce a mask mandate upon his students, in accordance with university policies which only encourage mask-wearing. The school system follows the rules of the state of Georgia, which forbids requiring masks. Dana Cruz/JB


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TAGS: COVID-19, elderly, face mask, Georgia, professors

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