CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Students who returned to Coastal Carolina University on Monday for the spring semester were met with some COVID-19 policy changes.

Universities in the News13 viewing area are establishing new prevention measures as coronavirus cases surge. CCU has reinstated its indoor mask mandate.

“I think it’s the best idea that we do all wear masks because everyone is from many different places,” CCU senior Deasia Linnen said. “When you’re on a college campus you don’t know where people have been.”

The indoor mask policy returns after being dropped last fall when the spread of COVID-19 waned.

“And then the other big change is updating our isolation and quarantine procedures here on campus to align with the CDC,” Carissa Medeiros, CCU’s emergency management director, said. That guidance means isolating for five days if positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, a negative COVID test was not required for students to return to campus after being home for the holidays, Medeiros said on Monday.

“We decided to step into highly recommending a test before students come back to campus just because we know not all of our students have easy access to testing,” Medeiros said.

Other colleges like Horry Georgetown Technical College and Coker University are also requiring masks indoors.

“This is a much different beast that we’re looking at and we’re seeing the cases across the country and the Pee Dee just skyrocketing,” Patrick Riccards, Coker University’s vice president of college experience, said.

At Coker University, students and faculty must have a negative COVID test before returning on Jan. 17. Weekly COVID testing will continue to be required if faculty and students are not vaccinated.

Riccards said more than 80% of the university’s students are vaccinated. CCU reports a 42% vaccination rate among students.

While taking extra precautions this spring, Coastal Carolina University expects a rise in cases – likely in the next two weeks. Universities hope updating COVID policies and encouraging vaccinations will create an even safer learning environment this spring semester.

CCU and Coker University will reconsider the mask mandate after 30 days. News13 reached out to Florence-Darlington Technical College for updates on its COVID policies. We are waiting to hear back.