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UNI Professor placed on leave over mask mandate says he will teach online classes this upcoming semester

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:33 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -A University of Northern Iowa Professor put on leave last semester for implementing a mask mandate in his classroom, will not teach in class this upcoming semester.

Biology Professor Dr Steve O’Kane says UNI President Mark Nook told him he’s not allowed to do in person teaching this upcoming semester. O’Kane will teach his two classes online when the semester starts on January 20th.

O’Kane believes they made the decision because they knew he would put a mask mandate in place if he was around his students again. The Iowa Board of Regents guidance makes it so mask mandates cannot be implemented.

O’Kane says he wanted to teach in person this semester, but stands by his push for masking. “This is not a political issue,” he said. “This is not a fighting authority issue, this is a moral issue, and that’s really all it is.”

O’Kane says his students grades dropped drastically last year, when he was placed on leave and couldn’t teach classes in person. Because of that, he graded his students on a curve for the first time ever

He says he’s open to teaching in person for the fall 2022 semester if the pandemic gets better, or he can implement a mask mandate. TV-9 reached out to UNI for comment, a spokesperson said “The University does not comment on personnel matters of this kind.”

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