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Clemson Averts Faculty Walkout

August 19, 2021
 
 

Clemson University averted a planned faculty walkout Wednesday, the first day of classes, by announcing a three-week indoor mask mandate. Clemson changed course on masking following a Tuesday decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court in favor of the University of South Carolina’s mask mandate. Some Clemson professors still used the planned protest space on campus Wednesday to pass out hundreds of masks to students who either forgot them or were surprised by the mandate, and to promote masking and vaccination. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19, and as educators we can start those important conversations,” said Kimberly Paul, associate professor of genetics and biochemistry, who participated in the informal teach-in. Paul and other professors still want Clemson to extend the mandate to the end of the fall semester, but she said that the three-week policy helped “calm things down,” for now.

Joe Galbraith, Clemson spokesperson, said that the three-week period “coincides with the greatest risk predicted by our public health team’s modeling of the disease. Masks were shown in our models to a have significant impact on curbing the spread of the virus and correspondingly enhances our ability to stay in person. The University continues to evaluate all public health data as it mitigates the prevalence of COVID-19 while maximizing opportunities to continue in-person classes.” Clemson also has a robust testing strategy, Galbraith said, and has observed a positivity rate of under 1 percent over the past week.

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