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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – A record 32,000 students return to class this week on the University of Kentucky’s campus and as they do, they’ll notice one major change, masking is now optional.

Some students welcome the change.

“It’s exciting. I don’t have to wear one at the gym, I don’t have to wear one in class, it’s one less thing I have to carry around,” said Zev Meyerowit, UK Senior.

Others have their concerns.

“I am worried that at any minute it could spike. For me wearing it is just to make sure that I can continue doing my studies consistently because if I catch anything it completely halts everything and nothing is online anymore,” said Jazmin Rose, UK Junior.

And some find themselves right down the middle.

“If I feel like I’m feeling a little ill or if I’ve been exposed I’d rather wear a mask just to protect everybody else but other than that I feel safe just walking around with no mask,” said Emmanuel Dhenby, UK Junior.

UK’s decision comes as Fayette county reports three monkeypox cases and as the county remains in a covid red zone, with 800 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Fayette County last week, that’s up from 700 the week before.

Health leaders chiming in.

“We anticipate throughout Kentucky that the numbers will go back up similar to 2020 and 2021. Our hope though is that because so many people are vaccinated the cases will continue to be milder in terms of deaths and hospitalizations. So we support what their decision is and it may not be the same for every school system across the state,” said Kevin Hall, Spokesperson, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

Still, UK leadership said the move is a step in the right direction to managing a virus that they said is moving from dominating our lives to becoming a part of it.

“We are going to continue to have teams that meet on a regular basis to vigilantly monitor this virus and be willing and ready to pivot if we need to be,” said Jay Blanton, UK Spokesperson.

UK also said they continue to encourage vaccinations and that they remain available on campus.