James Schiffman doesn’t regret moving one of his classes online this semester, despite the trouble he now finds himself in with his school’s administration.

Schiffman, who teaches communications at Georgia College and State University, said he moved one of his larger classes online to start the semester since it was difficult to social distance and his college — like all others in Georgia — prohibited him from requiring his students to wear masks. Within weeks, was summoned to his dean’s office and given a choice: move the class back in-person, or face discipline.

“First [the dean] tried to bargain with me,” Schiffman said of the Sept. 22 meeting. “Then he tried to threaten me. Then he tried to shame me.”

The encounter highlights a battle brewing on Georgia college campuses between professors who feel unsafe teaching classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and school officials who have blocked them from either mandating masks in their classrooms or moving their courses to socially distanced online formats. Some professors have resigned or been fired over the mask and online-class rules.

Unlock This Article