Faculty and Staff - June 30, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

It is less than one week until our scheduled return to work for Phase 2, and more concerning news has been recently shared that emphasizes why we must be vigilant between now and July 6 as we prepare to return to work. Please note that a detailed Return to Work Guide will be forthcoming this week. 

While the administration is readying the physical campus for your return and implementing necessary precautions to decrease any spread of COVID-19, you must be equally committed in the coming days to protecting yourself and tangentially our community, as cases continue to rise throughout many areas in the Carolinas. 

The Herald reported that York County added a total of 103 COVID-19 cases this past weekend, which ended a record-breaking week of new cases. In order to keep ourselves, our family members and our colleagues healthy and safe, we should all be wearing masks or cloth facial coverings anytime we are in public with the potential for contact with others. We must practice hand washing and social distancing as the CDC and DHEC recommend. Again, this is not only for our own health but the health of our campus colleagues and friends, which is an important component of the Winthrop spirit I’ve seen so consistently displayed during the pandemic. 

I also wanted to make you aware of several other items happening concerning campus preparations: 

- Following CDC and DHEC guidance, Winthrop is requiring all staff, faculty and students to wear masks or cloth facial coverings in social settings, such as in university buildings, including classrooms, residence halls and dining facilities, and in outdoor spaces on campus where appropriate social distancing cannot be guaranteed. Facial coverings are not required when alone in private offices, when alone in on-campus residence hall rooms and when not in close contact with another person, such as walking alone outside. Also in accordance with CDC and DHEC guidance, Winthrop is not requiring baseline COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students who return to campus. COVID-19 testing options for those who become symptomatic will be available through local health-care facilities.

-Should it be required, contact tracing will be provided by DHEC in communication with Center for Student Wellness for students and Human Resources for employees.

-Return to work kits will soon be available from Environmental Health and Safety for departments and offices. Supervisors will be notified of pick-up arrangements. Kits include reusable cloth facial coverings (two per employee), disposable masks for office visitors, a 22 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer for office/department use, a 32 oz. bottle of disinfectant cleaner for office/department use, gloves and paper towels. No wipes or personal-sized hand sanitizers will be available for each employee's desk.  

-We are consulting with the Medical University of South Carolina on our Return to Learn plan, which details our preparations to safely welcome our students, faculty and staff back to campus for the fall semester. Being reviewed are our social distancing plans for classroom, residence halls and shared spaces such as Dacus Library, in addition to our plans for returning employees to the campus. MUSC will evaluate these plans and give suggestions and guidance as to how we might adjust them if needed.

-Finally, I would like to encourage each employee to complete the required, mandatory Return to Work Authorization training as soon as possible. Employees will not be allowed to return to campus until this training is completed. This information can be found at the “Faculty and Staff Return to Work Notification, Training, and Resources” section of the HR website.  

It is with anticipation that I look forward to seeing you back on campus. Working remotely has served the university as well as we might have imagined but like you, I suspect, I have missed the opportunity to see each other on a daily basis. As we enter Phase 2 of re-opening, I ask you to pay attention to these guidelines as it is with care and respect for each other that we need to work to create a healthy and safe campus.



George W. Hynd
Interim President