Students - February 19, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Since even before we came back to campus last year, members of our community have desired an option for COVID-19 testing that can address what we know to be an issue on many college campuses – asymptomatic incidence of the virus. As you may know, a key factor in the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections across a community is that individuals can have the virus but not display symptoms. In order to monitor potential spread of this kind, public health experts have consistently noted that regular and ongoing COVID-19 testing is crucial for the successful and sustained operations of institutions like ours that have students living and learning on campus. I am pleased to share with you that we finally have that regular and ongoing testing option on our main campus, thanks to a new partnership with the USC College of Pharmacy.

The Saliva Assay Free Expedited (SAFE) test is free, quick, and noninvasive, and results can typically be shared within 24-48 hours after the sample is collected. The PCR saliva-based test shows 97.5 percent accuracy in the early stage of infection. SAFE testing is only available to current Winthrop students, faculty, staff, and such campus affiliates as Sodexo and Barnes & Noble employees. A SAFE testing webpage with all the details is now available.

Beginning February 23, 2021, we will offer SAFE testing on mostly Tuesdays in McBryde Hall, twice a month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (See the full schedule on the webpage.) This is a voluntary program, yet it will expand our testing capacity while also helping the university maintain face-to-face classes and organizational activities the remainder of 2021. Everyone is encouraged to test at least once per month.

Things to remember about this easy, effective and convenient testing, which again, starts Tuesday on a voluntary basis:

·       Be sure to bring your Winthrop ID to get tested. It’s also good to bring your cell phone to record your test barcode. You can preregister here.

·       SAFE testing samples will be collected and coded in a manner that ensures confidentiality and protects privacy.

·       Do not eat or drink anything (including gum, candy or nasal spray) or use any tobacco or vaping products for at least 30 minutes prior to your SAFE test. Do not drink water for 10 minutes prior to the administration of your test.

·       You should not participate in SAFE testing if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, coughing, fever, sensory loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, headaches and/or sore throat. Instead, follow the student protocol or employee protocol for symptoms or exposure.

·       All positive results will be reported to SC DHEC. Positive student test results will be shared with Health Services. Health Services will contact students who test positive to begin contact tracing and provide further instructions.

SAFE testing participants will receive an email to your registered email account stating that results have been uploaded and  providing instructions on how to view the results. Even if your test is negative, you are encouraged to consistently maintain safe practices such as avoiding large groups, wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing, and monitoring yourself for symptoms.

Again, this is a fantastic development in our Covid-19 mitigation efforts, and I am thankful for the USC College of Pharmacy for offering this free testing service to us. In closing, I want to remind students to PLEASE immediately contact Health Services if you are a close contact, test positive, or experience any symptoms consistent with COVID-19. We continue to hear about sick students who are trying to manage on their own so they don’t get sent home or prevented from going to class, work, etc. This is a public health emergency, and it is vitally important for all of us to follow reporting protocol for the health and safety of our campus community.



George W. Hynd
Interim President