On Wednesday February 16th, UW-Stout announced that they will lift their indoor mask mandate starting March 1st. President Thompson announced this news based off the following factors: high vaccination levels involving both employee and students, declining COVID-19 cases, widespread availability of vaccination options, and evidence indicating the omicron variant is less severe than previous variants. 

This announcement has become the hot topic on campus. Here are some thoughts and opinions amongst students and professors.

Many students shared their excitement about the mask mandate being lifted. 

“Personally, I am extremely happy about not using masks anymore. I feel like we are sitting so close to people in class that masks don’t do much for us anyways,” said Business major, Lauren Meyer.

Along with Meyer, Health Wellness and Fitness major, Landon Lushanko feels similar. 

“It’ll be nice not to worry about bringing a mask to class every day. I used to forget my mask a lot and it would make me late for class. It will be easier to communicate with all my classmates and professors in person as well. Masks made that difficult before,” said Lushanko.

In contrast, a few people expressed their mixed emotions about being mask free.

Professional Communication and Emerging Media Director Mitch Ogden says he feels more conflicted than he wishes he did about the mandate. He said they have become his “normal” and he never really minded them.

“I’ve looked to the CDC for guidance throughout the pandemic. Until they change their guidance on mask-wearing, I will feel conflicted about the university’s policy. During a pandemic where we all felt powerless and vulnerable at times, there was a small measure of comfort—or at least a sense of purpose—in wearing a mask,” said Ogden.

Like Ogden, Graphic Design and Interactive Media major, Carly Meyer goes back and forth with her emotions.

“It’s strange how the mandate is being lifted after spring break. You’d think it become stricter after everyone travels. But I am not going to complain. I am excited to be mask free,” said Meyer.

Overall, emotions are high about the mandate being lifted and soon the campus will have to adjust to this not so new normal.