Wisconsin college students heading home or someplace warm for spring break can leave those masks behind when they come back to class.  The University of Wisconsin-System is making plans to drop their current mandatory mask mandate for campuses "as soon as March 1 and no later than spring break".

That's according to details being shared by the UW-System about President Tommy Thompson's collaboration with officials at each local campus. The effort is due to the quick decline of COVID-19 cases among students, staff, and faculty.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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UW-System President Tommy Thompson pointed to the decline in rates as one of the chief reasons for the fast action:

"Wisconsin has one of the fastest rates of coronavirus decline in the country.  While we will continue to take prudent prevention measures when warranted, restrictions can be lifted as case counts drop.  Further, vaccinations and boosters are readily available to combat the virus that is much less severe for people who take this individual responsibility to protect themselves and others."

Even as the mask mandate drops, the university system will continue to offer prudent measures and guidance to help students remain healthy.  That includes continuing availability of coronavirus vaccines and tests on each of the campuses throughout the UW-System.  Additionally, even though the mandate will be gone, students and employees can "opt to wear masks if they wish".

University of Wisconsin Superior (UWS) campus banner in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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As work progresses to remove the mask mandate, UW-System President Tommy Thompson recognized the efforts to combat the pandemic from both students and staff members:

"From the beginning, our faculty and staff were incredibly unified in the desire to put health and safety first while also delivering the education that students deserve and parents expect.  The UW-System universities have been leaders in this regard.  We will continue to be, knowing that vaccinations and testing can provide great levels of safety and security for our students, employees, and university communities."

Thompson's praise continued for students at each of the campuses in the University of Wisconsin-System:

"Our students have been terrific for the last two years in demonstrating a culture or responsibility.  We have worked relentlessly to instill in them the need to protect themselves and those around them.  Students should be able to cheer on sports teams, attend concerts and performances, and go to classes without masks when the conditions are right."

Officials with the UW-System are listening to "scientific consensus" when it comes to their methods and strategies in regards to the COVID-19 response.  "Thompson noted....that the novel coronavirus will likely be recurrent with some degree of ongoing transmission expected, possibly for several years or more."

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