Perimeter College Lab coordinator terminated

Cody Mullins Luedtke, lab coordinator at the Dunwoody Campus, was asked to resign after she decided to write a letter explaining her concerns about the lack of mask-wearing among her students. Photo courtesy of Cody Mullins Luedtke

As thousands of students return to classes in person, there is a serious concern over the ongoing pandemic and the increasingly troublesome delta variant. On July 27, the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for urgently increasing COVID-19 vaccination coverage and recommended that people in high transmission areas wear a mask in public indoor places, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Even with the new guidance and the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state, the University System of Georgia decided to go full steam ahead on in-person classes for the fall 2021 semester. The lack of mask enforcement has become concerning for many, especially the faculty and staff who interact with hundreds of students daily.

The lack of enforcement proved too much for Cody Mullins Luedtke, who, until August 20, was a lab coordinator at the Dunwoody Campus. She decided on August 16 to write a letter explaining her concerns about the lack of mask-wearing among her students. 

After only a few days of discussion, Georgia State asked Luedtke to resign. When she declined, Georgia State told her that they would terminate her if she did not teach her classes in person despite the mask policy.

When asked how it got to this point, Luedtke explained that “The board of regents has encouraged a mask policy,” Luedtke said. “employees were given [harsh] guidelines. We aren’t allowed to ask about vaccination statuses or ask students to wear a mask.” 

According to Georgia State, this is to help ensure the fair treatment of all students. Georgia State’s official COVID-19 information page gave both facility and staff precise guidance. 

On the website’s FAQ page, the university states, “Yes, [it is] permissible [to ask others to put on a mask]. However, masks are not required on campus outside the University Health Center. Because mask usage is voluntary, you may not require anyone to wear a mask or impose consequences for not doing so. It is important to treat all individuals in our campus community with respect regardless of their mask usage.”

However, the university gives faculty and staff the ability to telecommute if their position allows it. Georgia State did not offer Luedtke this privilege. A Georgia State official with knowledge of the situation and policy explained that telecommute is authorized by the employee’s supervisor.

“It’s important that we understand that not every employee can telecommute. [Since Luedtke’s] labs were in person, it wouldn’t be possible for her to do that. We have a duty to the students, and she couldn’t serve the students via telecommuting.”

Andrea Jones, a spokesperson for the university, iterated the same point. “Telework should not be considered an employee right or entitlement. Telework requests and designations are based upon management discretion and in accordance with the determination of what best serves the university and its students.”

Georgia State failed to convince Luedtke that the policy will change as concerns over the Delta variant grow. “When the university sent everyone home for two weeks and then transitioned everything to online, I think that was an excellent decision,” Luedtke explained. 

“It was a shock for a lot of the staff, but as time went on, the board of regents continued to reduce restrictions.” A Georgia State official made it clear that the institution of Georgia State itself has nothing to do with the policy. 

“The university system sets the vaccination and mask policy for all the schools in the system. We are just abiding by the guideline,” they explained. “But [we have seen] a high rate of mask-wearing on campus, so that is an encouraging sign.”

Luedtke explained that she is happy with her decision. “This story is gaining national attention. Hopefully, it leads to some change in policy.” She said. 

She went on to give a final message to students, “I’m doing this for the students. It was very meaningful to forge relationships with my students, but it is also my responsibility to protect them. That is what I believe I am doing. Also, I encourage everyone to ask the people around them to put on a mask if they so choose. They might say no, and that is okay. But you have the right to feel safe.” 

Andrea Jones said, “The university has a remote work policy and [an] American Disabilities Act accommodation process when asked about the situation. This employee was not eligible under the university’s guidelines for remote work and did not participate in the ADA process.”

We reached out to the University System of Georgia for comment but have not received a response. If you want to learn more about Georgia State’s or University System of Georgia’s COVID policy, you can do so at and