ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany Technical College (ATC) stands firm behind guidelines from the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) for institutions of higher education.
As part of the school’s COVID-19 reopening plan, ATC in August incorporated recommendations to require protective face masks, conduct temperature checks and enforce social distancing.
“I can certainly understand people don’t want to do it, don’t want to live that way,” said ATC President Dr. Anthony Parker. “But we do want everybody to get better, and while they’re getting better, we don’t want to run the risk of infecting people who may have preexisting situations or circumstances.”
Parker confirmed a group of students in the surgical tech program broke school policy Monday by hosting an unauthorized pinning ceremony in the Nathaniel Cross Health Technology Building. They were asked to use face coverings and social distance but refused, according to Parker.
The students left campus voluntarily and will not face repercussions.
“We can understand where students may feel a little disappointed that they didn’t get to celebrate,” Parker said.
Albany Technical College moved most traditional celebrations online at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few months, pinning ceremonies have been held in a parade-like fashion, outside with students remaining in their vehicles.
Parker said the school plans to host in-person events once the threat of coronavirus recedes. Until then, he asks every student and staff member to consider others when they come to campus and follow ATC’s policies.
“We have individuals that work here and attend school here that have preexisting conditions,” Parker said. “I think it is fair to ask everyone to help everyone else. Personally, I don’t see anything unfair about those three things: asking people to wear face coverings, keep socially distance and wash their hands.”
Despite Monday’s incident, most students and staff have been compliant with school policy, according to Parker.