An 88-year-old professor in Georgia resigned in the middle of class because a student refused to wear a mask over her nose: 'That's it. I'm retired.'

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  • A professor in Georgia resigned last week after a student refused to wear a mask in class.

  • Irwin Bernstein, who taught psychology, resigned minutes into his seminar.

  • The University of Georgia does not require that face masks be worn inside campus facilities.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

An 88-year-old professor at the University of Georgia declared his retirement during a class when a student refused to wear her face mask properly.

Professor Irwin Bernstein told the University of Georgia's student newspaper, The Red & Black, that one of his students had shown up to his class on the second day of school without a mask. When a peer gave the student a mask to wear in class, she did not wear it across her face properly. She said she found it difficult to breathe with the mask over her nose, the most effective way to wear a face covering, health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Bernstein asked her numerous times to wear the mask correctly, he told The Red & Black. The student ignored each request, he said.

"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," said Bernstein, who taught psychology.

One of Bernstein's students said that on August 18 - the first day of his psychology seminar - the professor instructed all students to wear a mask during the lesson. "No mask, no class," read a message at the front of the classroom.

Bernstein explained to the student that he had underlying health conditions, such a type 2 diabetes, that made him more susceptible to harsh COVID-19 symptoms.

But the student still wore her mask incorrectly, and minutes into the seminar, Bernstein quit.

"That's it. I'm retired," Bernstein said, a student told the newspaper.

"We watched him pack all of his papers into his bag and walk out of the classroom," the student said.

The University of Georgia does not require that face masks be worn inside campus facilities. But Bernstein knew that two students who were out on the first day of class had tested positive for the coronavirus, so he imposed his own mandate inside the classroom, The Red & Black reported.

"Resignation was an all or none decision," Bernstein said. He added, "I felt some relief as I had been getting more concerned as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in recent weeks."

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