Students - February 26, 2021

Dear Students,

I am writing today to share with you an update on our planning in regards to summer and fall 2021. But first, let me thank you for your cooperation over an extended period of time as we navigated the pandemic and adhered to campus protocols, including wearing face coverings, observing physical distancing, and practicing preventative hygiene like good hand-washing and sanitizing. Your cooperation has been much appreciated, and our collective efforts have paid off as we continue to post low numbers of active cases on campus.

Summer Outlook

Last Friday the Board of Trustees voted (link) to extend last year’s significantly reduced tuition and fees to all of this summer’s academic offerings. This heavily discounted rate amounts to a near 30 percent reduction for an in-state undergraduate student. We intend to offer a similar summer schedule as we did last year, and we had strong enrollment for the session. I encourage you to consider whether summer courses fit into your academic plans. The fee schedule can be accessed here and summer offerings here.

A More Normal Fall Semester

Looking ahead, I am confident that we may well be able to start the fall semester with the traditional in-person learning and extracurricular offerings that you and your families have said, time and again, that you so desire. We have been purposeful in structuring the academic offerings to be more aligned with normal semesters, with our goal being upward of 80 percent of our courses to be taught in the in-person and hybrid modalities. On the residential side, we likely will shift back to our campus residency requirement for first- and second-year students and not provide waivers for all those who request one.

Forecasts are that the vaccine will be widely available by July, which would create the environment that, along with our continued campus protocols, make a more normal fall semester within reach. That said, we cannot yet predict how many students or community members will be vaccinated by the start of the fall semester, nor what impact, if any, variant strains of the virus may have. We will continue to monitor the latter, in particular, as well as infection rates across the state, with the option of pivoting back to online learning in the fall if warranted. Return testing may again be necessary.

I realize that many of you would like us to consider easing some of our campus restrictions. While I cannot tell you if or when that may happen, I will remind everyone that such decisions will largely depend upon how well we continue to follow our requirements in the immediate future even though we are all understandably tired of them.

Next Phase of Testing and More

As I shared last week, the SAFE (saliva-based) testing, thanks to our partnership with the USC College of Pharmacy, will help us assess asymptomatic spread.  I hope all of you will avail yourselves of this easy and convenient opportunity. In addition, we have a small group of student safety ambassadors who will be working to help remind you of the need to stay vigilant with our safety requirements, especially as you interact with others in campus common areas and spaces like the West Center and Campus Center.  

To conclude, I am happy to share this good news relative to our planning, but as we have said for nearly a year now, the health and safety of our community is our top priority, and that cannot, and will not, change. We will continue to adjust our plans as needed, and I am confident if we all keep doing the right things, we will get through this semester and the summer safely, and then we can all pivot to a more normal, on-campus Winthrop experience in the fall.

Thank you again for all that you have done and continue to do to minimize the risk of COVID-19 on our campus.

With gratitude,


George W. Hynd

Interim President