KENNESAW, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — College campuses are becoming the latest setting for the fight over COVID-19 guidelines. All this week, students, staff and supporters will be protesting on Georgia campuses calling for tougher safety measures.

Masks and vaccinations are currently optional at many colleges across Georgia, including Kennesaw State University. Protesters are demanding state officials require masks. “We all, quite frankly, risk our lives every day to attend this campus,” said Michelle Ross, a KSU graduate student and teacher assistant.

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“Especially this year, coming back fully in person with no social distancing, no mask requirement, that really created a lot of concern among faculty and staff and students,” said Heather Pincock, a protest organizer. Pincock is a KSU professor and a member of two organizations participating in the protests: the American Association of University Professors and the United Campus Workers of Georgia.

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Not everyone is on board with masking up, but protesters say the uptick in COVID cases speaks for itself. “We haven’t felt that our message is getting through, so the state AAUP organization and the UCW both coordinated plans to have actions on as many campuses we can to show how widespread the concern is,” Pincock said. They’re among the groups protesting on 16 campuses statewide this week, calling on the University System of Georgia to make sweeping changes. “Twenty-four K-12 teachers have died of COVID since August. We don’t have comparable data here in the University System of Georgia, and that is one of the things we’re out here protesting,” said Pincock. She says any self-reporting data doesn’t capture the big picture. “USG’s COVID safety policies are unacceptable, and they need to do better and they need to do more,” she said.

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Officials with USG and KSU did not immediately respond to CW69’s request for comment.