Faculty and Staff - March 16, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I write to you to provide an update as to the recommendations I have now received from Winthrop's Critical Incident Management Team.  Based on their recommendations and my judgement as to our rapidly evolving situation, I am providing this update as a follow up to our communication yesterday regarding Governor Henry McMaster's announcement of the closure of all S.C. public universities through the end of March. 

·         Guidance received from the Commission on Higher Education indicates that colleges and universities have some flexibility to continue online or remote coursework moving forward and to make some decisions on how we might serve (using essential personnel only) those students who must remain on campus.

·         In general, faculty, staff and students should STAY AWAY from campus until instructed otherwise. Our president and senior administrators are leading by example by cancelling all face-to-face appointments and conducting business by phone whenever possible. It is imperative to the health and safety of our campus community for non-essential personnel to STAY AWAY from campus at this time. For those who may be instructed to work from home, we are designating five hours tomorrow (Tuesday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) for employees to pick up materials and other items needed to work from home.

·         Essential personnel (in-person presence on the campus) have been identified as facilities management, police, housing, environmental health & safety and other employees who have been contacted by supervisors.  All other personnel should remain at home and contact their supervisor for further direction on work expectations. 

·         As of now, a decision has not been communicated from the Governor’s office regarding whether Winthrop will be authorized to apply leave with pay for leave-eligible employees for the time the Governor has ordered the university closed.  Unless the federal or state government takes additional action, employees in non-leave earning positions (temporary and student employees) will be in unpaid status for this time unless they are in one of the “essential” areas and actually work.  We are hoping to hear more information from the Governor’s office soon about how leave-eligible employees should report their time on timesheets and leave reports.  HR will provide additional information prior to March 31, 2020.

·         Essential personnel who believe they are at-risk (older adults; people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease; people with compromised immune systems; and pregnant women), should communicate concerns to their supervisor either verbally or in writing. No certification by a medical professional is required. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to be flexible with work for these personnel and direct any questions to HRHelp@winthrop.edu.

·         Beginning immediately, faculty preparation and training will continue remotely. The provost is working with deans and other academic leaders to ensure faculty and staff in Academic Affairs have the supports they need to make this transition to remote instruction in addition to working from home. Faculty who require training through the WOOL office are able to accomplish this remotely through resources provided on our Continuity of Instruction website and through remote appointments with WOOL staff.

·         Faculty already teaching fully online courses may need to make adjustments as well based upon the campus closure, but delivery of these courses will continue according to their approved schedule until otherwise notified.

·         The Computing and Information Technology help desk will be available with limited staffing 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We take your health and well-being, and that of your families, seriously.  The uncertainty of this unusual situation may cause high levels of anxiety and stress.  Employees have access to counselors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 800-633-3353 or 704-529-1428. To access work-life services, log in to mygroup.com (link) using the username "winthrop303" and password "guest".

Remember, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and trouble breathing.  If you have symptoms, CONTACT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. Please continue to check your email frequently and review our COVID-19 website.

With warm regards,


George W. Hynd
Interim President