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USC students return to campus for 2021 with mandatory virus testing in place

School officials say they are taking what they learned last year and building upon that this year.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Thousands of tests later, President Bob Caslen says, "We opened our university and started classes on time."

The University of South Carolina is back for the spring semester, Provost Bill Tate said, "The fact that our faculty and staff were able to open the doors and give students a residency experience without a documented case of virus transmission in the classroom is quite powerful."

Using various testing methods and testing both on and off campus, COVID-19 testing is mandatory this semester. Caslen says, "We've also expanded our plan to include mandatory testing for all students, faculty and staff who come to campus."

That includes testing upon return to campus and monthly testing. Doctor Deborah Beck says with students still returning, test results are still coming in. "Students will receive a message saying this is the week of the month to get tested," she says.

"We had very few students who attempted to move into our residence halls over the weekend, in fact I think it was only three or four."

She says mitigations will be determined by national and statewide case numbers. "We have to look at the entire totality of what is going on with our community and nationwide." Dr. Beck says the university is still contact tracing.

For those students who are apprehensive to return to in class learning, hybrid and virtual learning options will be available.

If students fail to get tested they will be issued with a warning. If they still don't comply they will be issued with a fine or could even be suspended.