TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The University of Alabama has announced it will be ending its COVID-19 protocols for all staff and students beginning next week.

Starting Feb. 21, masking will no longer be required inside buildings on campus and designated quarantine and isolation spaces will be “phased out over the remainder of the semester.”

In a statement, UA leaders said “plummeting case numbers and widespread availability of vaccines and treatments” led them to make the decision to end the guidelines. The university reported 23 students and 24 staff members tested positive for the virus, a dramatic decrease from highs of 393 and 140 respectively in January.

The Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard still has Tuscaloosa County, along with 59 other counties in the state, as having high transmission rates of the virus reported over the past week.

“Our campus team has thoroughly reviewed the best available information and considered our own experience in addressing COVID over the past two years,” said Dr. Ricky Friend, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences. “The university has provided the indispensable service of education while protecting our community. This is the next phase in continuing our essential mission.”

Campus administration say they will continue to monitor the virus in case protocols need to be put back in place. Those who test positive or have virus symptoms can still receive service at the Student Health Center or University Medical Center.

You can find the full announcement from the university by clicking here.