A Georgia academic says he will “never be able to look at this job the same way” after his personal plea to students to wear masks went ignored.
Matthew LeHew is an assistant professor of Communication and Faculty Fellow for the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at Dalton State College.
According to official Dalton State College guidelines, “Masks are strongly encouraged, especially for those who are not fully vaccinated, but they are no longer required in most places on campus.”
Despite these relaxed guidelines, LeHew was eager for students to wear face coverings during his classes, so formulated a plan to appeal to them on a personal level.
“I start every class with an ultrasound picture of my son due in October, pleading with my students to wear masks as a personal favor to my family,” he explained on Twitter.
Their response was disappointing to say the least.
“In small, at-capacity classrooms, only 5 of 45 of my students wore a mask,” he revealed.
“I’ll never be able to look at this job the same way.”
LeHew’s story has been retweeted over 7,400 times and liked a further 63,000 times.
It has also drawn responses from other academics eager to share their own experiences regarding students wearing masks.
Dr. Allen Gee, an English professor at Columbus State University, responded: “I told my students they could kill me because I had heart surgery. I told them even if they didn’t believe in masking to do it for the sake of their classmates. Only one isn’t wearing a mask now.”
“Be more direct with them about how their actions could infect you and your wife.”
Shawn Datchuk, an associate professor at the University of Iowa, told LeHew his wife is also pregnant and he “did the same thing.”
“The ultrasound did nothing: unmasked, stayed unmasked. To be honest, I came home from class both days and cried for a while,” he said.
Datchuk refused to blame the students though.
“I think they are just college kids, trying to connect and forge their own identities,” he said in a follow-up tweet. “It is clearly an adult/admin/leadership problem that has completely failed to establish effective rules.”
LeHew later returned to clarify his stance on the matter of masks in classes.
“I still care for and value all of my students and want them to succeed,” he commented.
“I don’t want them to suffer for their choices; I want them to make better ones. I’ll always work toward that.”
Newsweek has reached out to LeHew for further comment.
LeHew’s experience came to light a day after a professor at Georgia College & State University resigned from her post after a student refused to wear a mask in her class.
Meridith Styer, who taught rhetoric at Georgia College & State University, took aim at the school’s policy on masks as she left, describing it as being “in opposition to all science and reason.”
Her departure echoes that of Irwin Bernstein, a retiree-rehire psychology professor at the University of Georgia who also resigned after a student refused to properly wear her face mask.
The 88-year-old professor, who had a “No mask, No class” sign on his board at the front of the room, tried to explain to the student involved that he has an underlying medical conditions.
When that went ignored, he quit.