(WFRV) – UW System president Tommy Thompson announced Wednesday that widespread vaccinations and dropping case numbers justified the move.

System officials say they plan to withdraw mandates as soon as March 1 and will end them completely no later than spring break.

UW-Green Bay freshman Audrey Ishi probably knows more about masking and community spread than most of us.

“I’m a biology major,” Ishi explained. “So immunity, I understand how that works more or less.”

Ishi, who’s fully vaccinated, says she agrees the time is right to drop the masks.

“It’s been so long. It’s hard to force people to keep wearing them at all, so I think lots of people are ready for that. Just be done with them,” Ishi explained.

Fellow student Brandon Balke agrees.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Balke, a UW-GB junior. “I think it’s going to raise morale in this school and I think it’s going to make everyone more agreeable too.”

UW-Green Bay Chancellor, Michael Alexander says the decision was not made lightly. He says among many considerations, the university tries to be aligned with what they see coming out of national, state and local health agencies; pointing out that every county in Wisconsin intends to lift their mask mandates by March 1.

“We can see the trajectory of the local conditions and we think it’s the right time for us to be able to make this choice,” Alexander explained.

Students say it comes down to a choice for them too.

“Just be responsible, be considerate, I guess,” said Ishi. “It’s not all about you in this world. Think about others.”

Alexander says the decision applies to masking only; all other covid protocols regarding quarantining, isolation, and staying home if you are sick remain in place. Students are also encouraged to continue wearing a mask if that’s what’s comfortable for them.

Thompson says vaccines and tests will still be available on campus.