Faculty and Staff - January 6, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to 2021 and to the spring semester at Winthrop! I hope you had a restful break with needed time for yourself as well as attention to family. I am writing today to share and reiterate important information as we prepare for next week’s return to learning.

Still on Schedule for Starting Remotely
We will begin the semester on January 11 remotely with in-person classes beginning January 19 as announced last month. Some students will be moving onto campus this week with the majority moving in next week. As you may expect, we have had some pushback from students and parents on our return testing requirement, but we are resolved, like many other South Carolina institutions, to implement this requirement for the safety of our community (see more on that below). As I mentioned last month, we will continue to work as we have been with roughly 50 percent of the workforce on campus at any given time, likely through March.

Testing Strongly Recommended for F/S
While we are not requiring a negative test result for you to come back to work, I am strongly recommending that faculty and staff avail yourselves of the free testing offered through DHEC at the North lot of the Winthrop Coliseum. As you are likely aware, public health advice is clear that if you are out and about in the community, you should be getting tested regularly even without symptoms. As DHEC says, “Be positive you’re negative.”

If you do plan to be tested at the Coliseum, there are a few things to know:

  • With the current infection rate in the nation, state and our area, there are many people being tested. DHEC is averaging 1,000 tests a day at the Coliseum.
  • Testing is available Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. first come first served with no residency restrictions. The gate closes at 4 p.m. Plan to register online or through the Aura app to speed the process, get in line early and be patient waiting your turn.
  • Feel good knowing you are doing your part in helping contain the spread of the virus!

Everyone Must Do Their Part
This is a public health crisis, and we all share responsibility for keeping COVID-19 in check. We were fortunate at Winthrop to have had a good fall semester with the majority of our community doing all that we asked to help mitigate the spread of the virus. It is even more important now to have our Winthrop spirit on display by following all our protocols and being even more responsible over the winter months.

What’s Happening on Campus
On the student testing front, the Student Affairs division is working hard to manage questions and complaints from students and parents. Sadly, even with ample notification of our requirements and published instructions on how to be tested and receive their results in a timely manner, we still have students and families who have not adequately prepared for returning to campus. This will remain a challenge, but we will continue to explain why we and so many other schools are requiring this. Students who do not comply with testing will be prohibited from moving in to their residence hall or attending in-person classes/campus employment until they upload test results to the Health Services Patient Portal. The Dean of Students Office will communicate student ineligibility for in-person instruction to applicable faculty. Students are being instructed to proactively reach out to professors and share their inability to attend in-person classes until they are compliant (residential or commuter).We are not trying to create barriers to our students; this is responsible public health strategy that helps us protect our students and the campus community at a time when infection rates are rising.

The division also is implementing new strategies to aid in student compliance to our masking, physical distancing and hygiene requirements. All safety protocols used in the fall semester will be maintained for in-person and hybrid classes in spring 2021. The Return to Learn website continues to be updated and remains an important source of information on masking, reporting, and other procedures implemented to ensure a safe instructional environment.

All of these initiatives are aimed at providing as safe a living, learning and working environment as possible for our community. We have been fortunate so far not to have seen on campus the incidence we have seen reported in the community at large. However, we will continue to monitor the spread on our campus and in our county and surrounding counties as we weigh any change in course that may be necessary based on the triggers I have mentioned before. If we can replicate this spring what we accomplished in the fall, everyone will share the result of having navigated a truly challenging phase of this pandemic. On behalf of our leadership team, I ask you to please be vigilant and do your part!


George W. Hynd
Interim President