Faculty and Staff - March 7, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

I wanted to provide you with an update on where things stand with our COVID-19 protocols. But first, I want to let you know how we fared as a community with the January Omicron variant surge as it may presage what we might expect immediately after spring break. Thanks to our high vaccination rate (currently 82 percent among students), our return testing requirement, and our masking requirement, we largely avoided alarming numbers of sick individuals on campus during the fall semester. During the fall semester we averaged about 20 students and 10 faculty/staff monthly testing positive. Our Health Services and HR staff reported that with the start of the spring semester in January we experienced the significant uptick in COVID-19 cases we expected after the holidays in that 375 students and 45 faculty/staff tested positive.  

Current status -- The good news is that we are seeing our weekly numbers continue to drop, even as we are located in York County which remains in the high/red level for community transmission that warrants CDC’s high level of prevention strategies. Following the community metric guidelines, this local data supports continuing our indoor masking requirement, especially as we anticipate an uptick in cases following our March 14-20 spring break.

COVID-19 Testing -- We are not in a position to require return testing of students after the break, and we anticipate individuals may travel far and wide to enjoy their first “normal” spring break since 2019. At the same time, DHEC is actively closing a number of testing sites and will stop daily case reporting this month. At the Winthrop Coliseum, DHEC will soon end funding but supports the continuation of this community testing site. As a result, testing contractor Genetworx will shift to requesting insurance information for testing beginning March 15 that will cover testing for COVID-like symptoms and being a close contact, but not for surveillance. Genetworx will continue to offer testing for individuals who are uninsured. These changes will impact many who have relied on this testing since our partnership with DHEC was announced in September 2020. Even our remaining spring on-campus testing options will change with DHEC now making rapid and PCR self-administered tests available and having individuals mail their PCR swabs for test results. Please take advantage of the upcoming free DHEC vaccine and testing events scheduled for March 23, April 20, and May 2 in McBryde.

Indoor masking requirement – Given all of the above, for now we will stay the course on our indoor masking requirement, and campus leadership will revisit this requirement in early April once we know the impact of cases following spring break.

Thank you for your continuing efforts to maintain a safe campus environment for all.



George W. Hynd
Interim President