CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The call for stricter COVID-19 mandates continues with new force at Penn State University. Professors across the University Park campus are participating in a ‘Teach Out’ protest, holding their classes outside as a message to university leaders.
Kirk French, a professor of anthropology, teaches one of the largest courses at University Park. The class of over 700 students was to be held outside Old Main.
“It feels good, actual class with no masks is nice, in the right direction,” said David Yeomans, a student in French’s class.
French is one of about 50 professors he said are taking part in the initiative.
“We’re doing a teach out to try and put a little more pressure on the administration to act on the vaccine mandate so we can maybe have a normal spring semester,” said French.
This month, Penn State reports more than 87% of all University Park students have confirmed they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The overall rate among employees is about 81%.
French said they’re asking for more than just vaccinations. For example: fewer barriers for approval to teach remotely if a professor needs to.
He said it’s an effort to advocate for all of Penn State.
“Even though we have relatively high vaccination rates at University Park, our other campuses, our commonwealth campuses, don’t,” said French. “They’re always treated like second class citizens with just about everything that happens at the university.”
Penn State told WTAJ they have no objections to the occasional change of class location, as long as professors are able to cover the course material and the location is accessible to all students.
Masking is still required of all individuals inside Penn State University buildings, regardless of vaccination status.