Parents & Families - August 5, 2021

Dear Parents & Families: 
I know you are eager to receive more details on our fall semester COVID-19 plans given the latest public health information and trends in South Carolina. Please know that the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty/staff, and guests remain our top priority. Our mitigation strategy for COVID-19 is a dynamic situation, and while we had hoped to have some autonomy in making decisions that are best for our campus community, we do not have that at this time. 

What is especially concerning to me is evidence that the transmissibility of the Delta variant has caused a re-emergence of the virus that none of us expected in the run up to the fall semester. Be assured that we will continue to monitor the virus, confirmed cases and the vaccination rate in our state. Our decisions are now and will continue to be informed by public health guidance, as well as federal and state laws. Conversations with our colleagues at public universities across the state and guidance from the S.C. Attorney General have shaped our plans, which you will find below.

Let me say that I fully expect the Winthrop family to do the right thing and take these measures seriously. The best defense is a good offense, and getting vaccinated has proven the best option for not contracting and/or reducing symptoms of COVID-19. I cannot stress vaccination enough. Additionally, with positive cases again on the rise, we strongly encourage masking while in campus buildings. We met the COVID-19 challenge last year, and I know that together, taking responsibility for each other, we will overcome it again this fall.  

Return to Campus COVID-19 Requirements 
Return Student Testing
Students residing on campus, working on campus, or attending face-to-face classes must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test conducted no more than 5 days prior to arrival on campus OR opt out of testing by providing one of the following:
·         proof of prior positive COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days

·         a completed COVID-19 vaccination record that was recorded two weeks prior to arrival

Additional information from Residence Life/Center for Student Wellness has been emailed to students with specific dates regarding testing and move in/arrival. Please pay close attention to this information. Failure to comply with the testing requirement may result in referral to the Dean of Students Office for violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

The university will offer voluntary free testing to students, faculty and staff over the fall semester. See our SAFE testing site for dates and times. Testing is also available at multiple locations throughout the state, including the York County site at the Winthrop Coliseum which is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 

The university strongly recommends all students, faculty and staff to get fully vaccinated in order to protect themselves and the community. For students who have completed full vaccination, please upload your vaccine record into the Medicat Patient Portal. The portal is compliant with federal health privacy law and your records will not be shared. 
In addition, the university will offer three free vaccination clinics for students and employees (more details to come) on campus in the coming weeks, two of which are already scheduled:
·         Friday, Aug. 27 – Moderna – Campus Green, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 
·         Thursday, Sept. 16 – Pfizer – McBryde Hall, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 
Face Coverings
While we cannot require them of students due to very clear guidance from the S.C. Attorney General, face coverings are strongly recommended inside all campus buildings, unless you are in your own residence hall room, alone in a private office, or you are eating inside campus dining facilities. They are required on buses and other forms of university transportation.  
We know that masks work for helping contain the spread of COVID-19, and while we may not be able to currently require them of our students, we will consider guidance from the state to help us keep our community safe and healthy, including the possibility of requiring face coverings of our employees and guests in the future.  
Isolation and Quarantine
Students, faculty, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will once again be expected to isolate at home/away from campus to prevent the spread of illness. 
Following the most updated guidelines from the CDC and SCDHEC, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine following exposure to a positive COVID-19 infection if they are not showing any symptoms. Unvaccinated individuals are required to quarantine following an exposure to a positive COVID-19 infection, regardless of their symptoms, as per guidelines from the CDC and SCDHEC.  

All students living on campus are required to file a detailed quarantine and isolation plan with Residence Life. Instructions to do so were sent by email on Aug. 4.

Any employee who has been exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19 should notify Human Resources as soon as possible after learning of the exposure or positive test results. HR will provide further instructions based on the employee’s individual circumstances.

Group Gatherings 
We are continuing to consider recommendations for group gatherings in light of recent events and will share those as soon as they are available. 
Mental Health & Emotional Well-Being
Perhaps more than any other time in 2021, this latest surge linked to the Delta variant likely has all of us worried or scared. Caring for your overall well-being cannot be overstated. If you're dealing with the effects of having COVID-19, grieving the loss of someone who has succumbed to the virus, or simply feeling let down about the changing circumstances, our Counseling Services can help. Students can schedule a same-day intake through the Patient Portal. Employees are encouraged to utilize the EAP benefits available to them through the McLaughlin Young Group.
Let me reiterate that, just as we have in the past, we will adjust our planning according to the latest public health information. Watch for updates and announcements in the coming weeks in response to changing circumstances.



George W. Hynd
Interim President