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UGA professor reportedly resigns in the middle of class after student won't pull mask over nose

The 88-year-old professor was in a retiree-rehire position.

ATHENS, Ga. — A UGA professor reportedly resigned in the middle of class this week, walking out and quitting on the spot after a student wouldn't pull her mask over her nose.

UGA student Dania Kalaji reported for the school's The Red & Black newspaper that 88-year-old psychology professor Irwin Bernstein asked the unnamed student to wear the mask properly, explaining his COVID risks at his age and with conditions including Type 2 diabetes, after she was given one upon arriving to class without a mask.

The student reportedly responded that she had a hard time breathing with the mask over her nose. According to the student paper, after taking attendance Bernstein repeated his request and the student did not respond.

RELATED: GSU instructor fired after disagreement over mask policy | 'It crossed a moral boundary'

At that point, another student told the paper the professor said, "That's it, I'm retired," and walked out.

Bernstein told The Red & Black that as an Air Force veteran he had risked his life to defend the country, but was "not willing to risk my life to teach a class with an unmasked student during this pandemic."

The student was reportedly the only one in the class of 25 to express any discomfort with the masks. The 88-year-old professor was in a retiree-rehire position.

The incident at UGA came the same week a Georgia State instructor was fired over her refusal to teach in person without a mask mandate. Georgia's public universities within the University System of Georgia do not have such a policy in place.

That instructor, Cody Luedtke, told 11Alive's Paola Suro she "fretted about it quite a bit until I finally decided I couldn't teach in an environment like that."

"It crossed a moral boundary for me because it's so unsafe for the students and the greater community," Luedtke said.

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