Winthrop University: Return to Learn

Return to Learn

LATEST NEWS:
Check the COVID-19 Dashboard or Learn More About Free Testing

The fall 2020 semester has been unlike any other, and we continue to work hard to create a safe and welcoming environment in which students and employees can live, learn and work. Your time on campus is different in many ways, and we appreciate the adjustments you've made. With every member of the Winthrop community working together, we’re confident a successful fall semester is within our grasp.

On this site, find the latest information about how we have responded for a return to learning at Winthrop. Our plans reflect current public health guidance and are subject to change before and after classes begin.

Students

Employees

Faculty

FAQ

Questions?

See the COVID-19 Dashboard


Updates on the COVID-19 response from the CDC


Visit the Medicat Patient Portal


Testing Information


Reference our COVID-19 site in use March-July 2020


COVID-19 Inquiry Form

Please use the above link to submit all COVID-19 inquiries. This form will route to the appropriate office based on the nature of your inquiry. If you have a technology-related inquiry, please contact Computing & IT Services at 803/323-2400 or helpdesk@winthrop.edu

 

Communications

 

11/6/20 COVID-19 Testing Requirement for Spring Semester Return 

    Dear Campus Community,

    Before we wrap up in-person instruction and our attention turns to the Thanksgiving holiday in a couple of weeks, I wanted to reach out and share some details of our COVID-19 management plans for the return to learning in January.

    Students attending in-person classes and/or living on campus will be required to get tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus

    Trustees were briefed today on Student Affairs’ and senior leadership’s recommendation for pre-entry COVID-19 testing for students who are taking in-person classes and/or living in the residence halls. Students will be required to present a negative test result for a test taken 72 hours in advance of their return date/first in-person class. (Online-only students will not be required to submit test results.) Students will need to quarantine two days prior to their test and continue to quarantine until their scheduled return to campus date. The benefit of return testing is prevention of positive students from returning to campus and exposing others to the virus.

    Expanded testing makes this requirement possible
    I am sure you are aware of the rise in cases in our state and elsewhere in the country. Cold weather will undoubtedly drive individuals indoors, and the upcoming holidays will increase transmission risk. You likely know, too, that SC DHEC has expanded mobile testing sites (like the one at our Coliseum) throughout the state, making it easier for students to find free testing options in their community. You will recall such testing was not as readily available during summer leading up to the fall semester. As a result of all of these circumstances, senior leadership has agreed that the implementation of return testing is a good idea.

    Students being informed now
    Students are being informed of this requirement now so they have ample time to identify permanent and mobile testing options for their test date in January. Residential students also are being informed that the requirement for return testing means that we must change how Residence Life handles closing the residence halls for the fall semester. A detailed message from Residence Life is being sent to residential students today on what they can expect.

    Continued diligence is a must
    We know that such testing is an effort of risk mitigation but not a guarantee of campus safety. Testing is still a snapshot in time, and a person can become symptomatic after testing. However, we hope that students (as well as faculty and staff) will take the advice of the CDC in limiting their exposure to others over the holidays, avoiding large gatherings, and continuing masking, hand-washing and social distancing. SC DHEC recommends testing at least monthly for anyone out and about in the community for any reason.

    Student Affairs will take the lead
    Residence Life and Health Services will lead the coordination of the testing results management as well as the necessary move-in health screenings in January like those we required in the fall prior to move-in. Detailed information will be provided by email from Health Services so all students will know how to upload their COVID-19 testing results to the Medicat portal. (Students, it is very important for you to monitor your email for instructions in this regard.) Student Affairs will monitor enrollment to notify the students who meet the requirements for testing (in-person classes and/or residential living). Residential students who do not test/provide results will be prohibited from moving in, and any student who does not adhere to testing will face disciplinary action.

    Is expanding testing an option?
    We are strongly encouraging everyone to take advantage of the free testing available at the Coliseum or other locations in the community, but at this time, we are not requiring a negative test result for faculty and staff to return to work after the winter break. As we move into December and have more information about the prevalence of the virus in our community, we may consider additional testing, including of faculty and staff, but our emphasis now is on students who, once they return, will be more likely to be in close contact with others in classrooms and/or the residence halls. We also are considering surveillance testing (random sampling of the campus community) in the spring and exploring the details of how that might work. More on these options in time.

    I hope you find this update of our planning helpful. Please direct any questions you may have to Shelia Burkhalter, Jackie Concodora, or Howard Seidler, depending on the nature of the inquiry.
    Sincerely,

    George

    George W. Hynd
    Interim President

     

     

11/2/20 December Commencement

    Dear Campus Community:

    I know you are eager to learn what Winthrop’s plans are for December Commencement. As the university continues to navigate the current pandemic and monitor CDC and SCDHEC guidelines regarding large indoor events, it has become clear that, as with May Commencement, we will not be able to hold our traditional ceremony.  We do, however, want to celebrate the accomplishments of our degree candidates as much as possible. 

    Using their responses to a recent survey regarding commencement options, Winthrop will hold a virtual commencement ceremony on December 19 for our December graduates, as well as our August and May graduates.  In addition, our December graduates will be invited to campus on December 19 to pick up their degree. (August and May graduates received their degrees by mail.)  While neither of these events can truly replace the joyous celebration of a traditional ceremony where graduates are surrounded by family and friends, we will make these events as special as possible as we work to keep graduates, their families and the Winthrop community protected from COVID-19. 

    I speak for the entire Winthrop community in sharing our disappointment that we cannot hold a regular ceremony, but we know this is the right thing to do. We are exceedingly proud of the accomplishments of each and every one of our graduates, especially as they have completed their Winthrop degree despite a pandemic. They are resilient scholars who prioritized their goals and dreams, and then achieved them!

     I thank the Commencement Committee in advance for their work to bring these events to life and welcome our latest Winthrop graduates to the alumni ranks.

    Sincerely,

    George 

    George W. Hynd
    Interim President

10/15/20 On-campus Events Update from President

    As we reach the halfway point of in-person instruction this semester, I wanted to share some information that may be of interest to you as we look to complete the semester on campus.

    First, I hope you have seen our COVID dashboard and the low numbers of cases we have seen. Vice President for Human Resources Lisa Cowart noted that, while the number of faculty and staff who have been infected continues to be low, through our on-campus contact tracing, we have learned that none of those who have been infected appear to have contracted the virus at work.  This is encouraging and suggests that employees are following the health-related guidelines to wear masks and maintain a safe distance from coworkers and students. While we are not so naive as to think that will continue indefinitely, we do want you to be aware of this and to keep doing what you are doing to keep yourselves, your co-workers and our students safe.

    On another note, I wanted to let you know that there have been and will continue to be some limited in-person events on campus. You are likely aware that we are currently declining requests for external groups to visit and hold events unless we have a contractual obligation to do so. We have, however, been holding some in-person events within the University Events guidelines (pdf) that were developed this summer using guidance from the CDC, DHEC and MUSC, among others. One recent example was the socially distanced CSL induction ceremony I attended in September. I’m pleased that such events offered in a blended delivery format (synchronous in-person/virtual) have been well received. This format, in particular, allows a comfort level for participants who may not be ready to physically attend gatherings.

    We are hearing regularly from students and family members that in-person experiences outside the classroom setting are desired (safely, of course), and we are pleased that our efforts along this line help contribute to the engaged college experience that students and their families want and expect. Fortunately, we have not experienced any COVID-related issues as a result of holding these events.

    Finally, as campus events continue to be scheduled and successfully offered according to our guidelines, my wife, Alison, and I are beginning to host very small presidential events outside at our home. We are following all CDC, DHEC and MUSC guidelines as would be expected for any event on campus. In addition, earlier today we were able to show our heartfelt appreciation to the Facilities Management staff at a luncheon we hosted outdoors with all of our safety precautions in effect.  The Facilities area has worked tirelessly since March while others of us worked from home and under Phase 2 guidelines. Their efforts are among the key reasons we have been as successful as we have been in our campus response. Our event staff and the Sodexo team provided a safe, socially distanced lunch with no university funds used. Alison and I were happy to host the event for this deserving group. 

    We will be looking at ways to creatively host or deliver other events as well. We recognize that it is important we find ways to acknowledge the many people who have contributed to our successes in these difficult times.

    If you have ideas for how we might acknowledge groups and teams across campus, please send a message to the president@winthrop.edu email address. We will add your suggestions to those we are considering. Thank you again for all that you do for Winthrop.

10/13/20 Presidential Update for FS/S

    As the Winthrop campus settles into fall, we have much for which to be thankful. We’re about halfway through our in-person instruction, and COVID-19 cases have been low across our community. Our adjustment to the new normal for living and learning has gone well, and I applaud you for your efforts to keep your colleagues and friends safe and healthy. As cases continue to rise across our country, we must continue to be vigilant—observing social distancing, wearing our masks, and washing our hands. It is our understanding that Governor McMaster has given agency heads the discretion to determine when it is appropriate for their agency to move into Phase 3 of the Return to Work plan. Consequently, with the exception of Facilities Management and a few other offices that are currently working under Phase 3 guidelines, I think our best course of action is to continue in Phase 2 at least through the end of the fall semester. In December, we will consider all information available to us and revisit this decision.

    Spring 2021 Semester
    With advising for the spring semester beginning next week, it is a good time to share what we expect the spring semester will look like for our campus. Discussions have been ongoing among different leadership groups, and our consensus is that, barring unforeseen circumstances, the spring semester will proceed as planned with in-person instruction beginning Jan. 11, spring break March 15-19, and final exams April 28-May 4.

    Such unforeseen circumstances (as you may recall from the work of the reconsideration task force) could still include COVID risk levels in the community and state, capacity of local hospitals to care for COVID patients, availability of COVID supplies on campus, availability of student-serving quarantine/isolation facilities on campus and related staffing, appropriate infrastructure to support on-campus cases where students were not able to go home, etc. We will continue to track these “triggers” that could prompt a change in our plans. 

    Commencement 
    I would also like to share where we are with Commencement. December 2020 degree candidates have been informed that we will not be able to hold a traditional commencement ceremony on December 19 as we hoped. Those students also have been surveyed about their interest in participating in one or more of the following: a virtual ceremony, a drive in diploma pick up, and a possible special ceremony on May 15 (the week after May commencement), provided we can hold large events by then. More to come on the students’ preference and what we will offer.

    Important Dates
    As we move into the second half of the semester, the following are some key dates to keep top of mind:

    Oct. 21–Advising for Spring 2021 begins
    Nov. 3–Election Day, no classes but offices open 
    Nov. 10–Registration for Spring 2021 begins
    Nov. 20-Last day of in-person classes for Fall 2020
    Nov. 23-Remote instruction day (no in-person classes to be held; faculty will provide virtual assignments)
    Nov. 24-27-Thanksgiving holiday, no classes (offices closed Nov. 25 -27)
    Nov. 30-Dec. 3–Remote learning for Fall 2020
    Dec. 4-Fall 2020 study day
    Dec. 5-11–Fall 2020 final exams

    For additional details, please see the registration calendar.

    Thank you again for your compliance with our COVID-related requirements since the semester began. You are the reason we have been able to continue offering in-person classes and delivering on the exceptional Winthrop experience for which we are known. Let us keep up this proven good work to help ensure a healthy and safe learning community for all.

9/29/20 September Presidential Update to FS

    Now that we are more than a month into the fall semester, I hope everyone has settled into this new normal in which we find ourselves. I’m pleased to report that our careful planning and implementation of COVID-19 protocols and procedures have gone well overall. We are seeing good compliance with our masking policy and other requirements, and I thank each of you for doing your part to help us create awareness and educate one another on why #MaskUpWinthrop is so important. I invite you to read more below about COVID-19 updates as well as other information I thought you would like to know:

    COVID-19 Testing and Dashboard  
    Winthrop has partnered with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer free COVID-19 testing at the Winthrop Coliseum. This free testing is available to anyone in the Winthrop, and surrounding, community. It did not cost Winthrop anything to provide this service, but we hope it will help provide many benefits, including being able to effectively track the virus’ prevalence in York County. Upcoming testing dates are Oct. 11-12, Oct. 15-19, Oct. 22-26 and Oct. 29-Nov. 2 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Read more about the testing partnership in this press release.  

    Winthrop also recently debuted its COVID-19 Dashboard which is updated every Tuesday morning to provide the latest information on known positive cases among students and employees. Employees are encouraged to email fscovidreporting@winthrop.edu to report symptoms or a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

    Recent Board Action and New Trustee
    Trustees met on Friday, Sept. 25, and voted to extend the temporary suspension of the use of standardized test results as an admissions requirement for students entering the university in the 2021-22 academic year. The university started using alternative methods of evaluation in April for this fall’s freshmen and will continue using it for those who will make up the Class of 2025. This, of course, all stems from the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability for some prospective students to safely take the SAT or ACT. Please read more in this press release.

    Attending the Sept. 25 meeting was Winthrop’s newest trustee, John Brazell ’93, who ran unopposed for the Congressional District 2 seat that had been held for many years by Donna Glenn Holley. John, who earned a psychology degree from Winthrop, is a financial consultant with Charles Schwab. He will serve a six-year term. Please join me in welcoming John to the board if you see him on campus, and please join me as well in offering my sincerest thanks to Donna for her years of service to the board.

    United Way Campaign
    Winthrop will launch next month its 2020 United Way of York County campaign. The campaign, led by several of our colleagues, provides us with the opportunity to help our neighbors, co-workers and friends via the partner agencies that receive United Way financial support. At Winthrop, we've earned a reputation for caring about the community where we live and work. Every year, we get the chance to demonstrate that community spirit and leadership by taking part in the United Way campaign. 

    We recognize and understand that this year is different as we all have been affected by furloughs and other COVID-related realities. However, if you are able to give any amount, I know it would be appreciated as the United Way of York County works to achieve its goal of helping 3,000 York County families achieve financial stability by 2030. This year, in addition to the traditional form that you receive in your office, will be an opportunity to donate via an online pledge form to make giving more convenient and easily accessible. More information soon will be available on the campaign through the Daily Digest.

    Finally, I would like to thank each of you for everything that you are doing to ensure that we have a successful fall semester. I know it isn’t easy, and many of you are juggling the additional responsibilities of assisting your children with virtual and hybrid learning, among a myriad of other outside-of-work responsibilities. Please know that I appreciate you and the work that you do each day. Your work matters, and it’s what has helped us successfully get to this point of the semester.

9/9/20 Free COVID-19 Testing Starts This Friday

    I am pleased to inform you that Winthrop has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer free COVID-19 testing at the North parking lot of the Winthrop Coliseum, beginning this Friday from 9 a.m.1-p.m. More information will be shared if and when testing on the main campus becomes widely available.

    DHEC’s free nasal swab testing will be available to anyone at Winthrop and in the surrounding communities at the Coliseum on Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Sept. 23. Additional dates and times will be added, so please continue to check DHEC's testing site for updates.

    This is good news for Winthrop and for our communities as we help provide a much needed, and free, service in order to stay on top of virus activity in our area. 

    Employees who are experiencing symptoms or have tested positive should immediately communicate this information to fscovidreporting@winthrop.edu.

    Please read the press release below that provides more details, and thank you to all involved who helped make this a reality. 

     

    Winthrop Coliseum to Serve as Free COVID-19 Testing Site Through December

    ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University is partnering with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer free COVID-19 testing to the Winthrop, and surrounding, community at the North parking lot of the Winthrop Coliseum, 1162 Eden Terrace. (No COVID-19 public testing is currently available on Winthrop's main campus located off of Oakland Avenue.)

    Free testing, which will be performed via nasal swab, will begin at the Winthrop Coliseum on Friday, Sept. 11, and will initially be offered on Friday, Sept. 11, Friday, Sept. 18 and Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Additional testing days and hours will be added once more equipment and staffing are secured. The permanent testing site will last through at least December and will then transition to a COVID-19 vaccine site once a vaccine is approved and available to administer.

    There is no cost to Winthrop to host the testing location, but it will provide many benefits.

    “Having a permanent mobile testing location provides much needed access for the community without the delay in appointment availability. Increasing testing frequency provides a more accurate perspective on the prevalence of the virus in our county. I am so proud of Winthrop’s ability to provide a centralized location to facilitate DHEC’s goal of expanding testing convenience in York County as one more layer of response during this pandemic,” said Jackie Concodora, director of health and counseling services at Winthrop.

    According to Concodora, patients will remain in their vehicles at all times during the process, and test results can be delivered via the mail or electronically.

    "We're very excited to partner with Winthrop University to improve access to testing for COVID-19 in York County," said Scott Thorpe, DHEC's Midlands region public health director. "As with everything in public health, we know that collaboration will always improve our collective impact. Whether its students or local residents, we know that improved access to free testing means we can catch more cases. The more cases we catch, the better we're able to get this disease under control so we can all return to our normal, pre-pandemic lives."

    For more information, please visit DHEC's website.

9/3/20 Important Updates as Students Return to Campus

    I am writing to say thank you and to provide some updates. I truly appreciate your dedication and patience as we have begun the semester online and are poised to begin in-person instruction on Tuesday, Sept. 8, as part of our Return to Learn. It is to be expected that with the return to school, concerns and anxieties exist. I know you have many questions. By way of this email (admittedly long but appropriately so) and tomorrow morning’s town hall, I hope we can reassure you that we are doing everything possible to navigate the transition to in-person, resident instruction.

    Move-in news
    We had a successful start to residential student move-in yesterday. Residence Life, Health Services and Campus Police worked together to implement a touch-free move-in process that allowed for health assessment and screening before students and their helpers, who had reserved a time in advance, were allowed to move in. This minimized the number of people in the halls at once and allowed an orderly and safe process for everyone. This phased move-in lasts through Monday, Sept. 7. Thanks to all of the staff who have been working to ensure this vitally important first step to transitioning students back to campus goes well and according to plan. 

    Adjusting to the fall
    Prior to arrival, students received instruction on what to bring to campus (over-the-counter medications, digital thermometer, go bag, etc.) and how to utilize our new symptom tracker software (see below) on a daily basis to keep tabs on their health. Students also were invited to a Student Engagement town hall that was held last week to share how Student Affairs will ensure students feel connected this fall through in-person and virtual opportunities. An “Into the Unknown” event will be held virtually and in person on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. in Tillman Auditorium so students can learn more about how the university is moving forward and what students can expect with respect to program and service delivery. 

    Expectations
    We already know that becoming accustomed to the new protocols and expectations is a learning curve students must adjust to quickly. They have been provided all the information needed for a successful semester, including our masking requirement and physical distancing expectations; Student Conduct Code additions and the consequences of not abiding by university expectations; and a health kit. We have to lead by example and utilize teachable moments to encourage compliance with our new expectations. Students will be receiving email and video snippets on social media in the coming days to reinforce these expectations.

    Positive COVID cases
    One point of information that it is important for all faculty and staff to understand is how we are handling potential student COVID cases on campus. We have a limited number of test kits available through Health Services that are reserved for students who exhibit symptoms of COVID. Students who obtain COVID testing in the community must immediately notify Health Services of the test date by emailing covidreporting@winthrop.edu and report their results. These procedures will help us track cases and pursue contact tracing.

    If instructed by Health Services staff, residential students will be required to immediately return home to complete quarantine or isolation. All residential students must submit a Return to Campus Plan to Residence Life as a proactive measure in the event they are impacted by COVID and must leave campus immediately.

    Students who return home for quarantine or isolation are expected to follow up with their personal health provider for any COVID-related care and notify Health Services at covidreporting@winthrop.edu of any changes in their condition impacting their return to in-person instruction.

    A great new tool for all residential students and commuter students attending in-person classes is the COVID Symptom Tracker in the Medicat Patient Portal COVID-19 tab. Residential and commuter students are strongly encouraged to use the tracker every day before leaving their residence. A positive response on the daily tracker will display instructions and automatically prompts contact from Health Services.

    All of our student protocols stem from use of the patient portal or covidreporting@winthrop.edu email. Faculty should use this email if they suspect or have heard from a student that s/he may have or have been exposed to COVID. Do not attempt to help manage a student’s situation on your own. Use the email to initiate assistance to the student through our approved protocols.

    For acute illness that results in absence from in-person classes, Health Services will notify the Dean of Students Office which provides official absence notifications to Academic Affairs. The Dean of Students Office will issue an absence notification (dates only, not condition) to students’ faculty members. At that point, faculty members are expected to do all they can to help ensure the student can continue successfully in their classes.

    Finally, we are working to develop a website dashboard with weekly positive cases reported to us among students and faculty/staff. We will send out more information as soon as it is available. 

    Testing on campus
    We will not be testing all students, staff or faculty as we begin in-person instruction as it is not recommended by the CDC or DHEC. However, I am pleased to share that we are in conversation with DHEC to use our facilities (one of the Coliseum parking lots) for a long-term, free, mobile testing site that will be open to the public, and of course, the Winthrop community. This is an exciting development, and more details will be forthcoming.

    MUSC visit and report
    Last month, consultants from MUSC visited campus, reviewed protocols for our Return to Learn plans, and provided risk assessment. We are working to address their recommendations and suggestions, including implementing specific checklists that would apply to divisions and areas of campus.

    Reconsideration Task Force report
    In all of this preparation and assessment, we are guided by a report provided in late July by a campus-wide Reconsideration Task Force which researched possible “triggers” or a combination of factors that might prompt a change in our campus operations based on COVID.  The committee’s charge was to identify possible factors that would encourage us to review a decision to bring students back to campus or, if they were back on campus, what possible factors would cause us to go remote again as we did in March. In addition to available COVID risk levels in the community and state, other factors included the capacity of local hospitals to care for COVID patients, availability of COVID supplies on campus, availability of student-serving quarantine/isolation facilities on campus and related staffing, appropriate infrastructure to support on-campus cases where students were not able to go home, etc. The consideration of these factors--and a recognition as to the commitment to provide the best education possible to our students--led to the decision to bring students back to campus. We will continue to monitor all of these factors as we move forward in the coming weeks. If it appears that we cannot serve the majority of our students safely and mitigate the possible risk to our staff and faculty, we will consider these factors and make the appropriate decision.

    I hope you find these updates helpful. We all know that it will take commitment from every member of the campus community to mitigate the spread of COVID to protect ourselves and one another, and keep our campus safe. Our individual actions can have a profound effect on others. Please practice social responsibility and consistently adhere to all COVID-related precautions such as wearing a mask, avoiding close contact with others (especially group gatherings), staying home if feeling unwell, and frequently washing your hands. Together, we can do this!

9/2/20 How to Join Sept. 4 Faculty/Staff Virtual Town Hall

    I hope you are planning to join me and other members of Winthrop’s senior leadership for a second Faculty/Staff virtual town hall on Friday at 10 a.m. This town hall will focus on the unique challenges employees will face this academic year.

    The town hall meeting will be accessible via Zoom on Friday at 10 a.m. by using this link. A video recording also will be made available following the town hall if you are unable to participate live.

    I hope you can join us.

8/12/20 Big South Conference Delays Fall Sports

    It is with great disappointment that I write to you to share another COVID-19-related decision that will impact our fall semester. As the release below explains, the Big South Conference has made the decision to delay fall sports with the hope of those teams entering competition in the spring. We feel for our student-athletes who have worked extremely hard to reach the NCAA Division I level of competition. Their disappointment with this decision will be great. The good news for these students is that all scholarships will be honored. We look forward to a time in the future when our teams can safely compete without the risks of COVID-19 potentially impacting their health.

    Winthrop Reacts to BSC Decision to Delay Fall Sports

    ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA .– With the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff its highest priority, the Big South Conference announced today the decision of the Council of Chief Executive Officers to delay the fall sports seasons and to postpone them until the spring, if possible.

    For Winthrop the decision impacts men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, and fall competitions in men’s and women’s golf, in addition to out-of-season competition in spring sports.

    “Marking another difficult decision in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this delay reflects our commitment to student-athletes and the entire athletics family,” said Winthrop Interim President George Hynd. “While we know the decision is extremely disappointing for our players, coaches, staff and supporters, their health and safety is most important as we move into the fall season. We look forward to the day our outstanding teams can return to competition without the uncertainties of the pandemic holding sway.”

    The Big South Conference joins the Big 10 Conference and Pac 12 Conference in decisions to postpone fall sports this week, along with several other leagues that have done the same in recent weeks.

    Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Ken Halpin noted that all scholarships will be honored and coaches and staff stand ready to assist student-athletes just as they did in spring 2020 when competition was curtailed. “We are prepared to support them and help them adjust to team and individual expectations moving forward,” he said.

    For more information on the Big South Conference’s decision, see the release.

7/31/20 Recorded Student/Families Town Hall Link Available

     

    Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday’s Students/Families virtual town hall meeting. I hope that the vice presidents and I were able to provide you with helpful information that addressed your questions and concerns regarding the upcoming fall semester.

    If you were not able to attend the town hall, you may access the recorded session via this link.

    There were some questions that we were not able to address but know that we are working on including these questions on the Return to Learn website as appropriate or sharing answers to them in upcoming communications.

7/29/20 Link Available for July 30 Students/Families Town Hall

    I hope you and your loved ones are planning to join me and other members of Winthrop’s senior leadership for tomorrow’s virtual Students/Families town hall at 6:30 p.m.

    We know that there are many details and issues of concern as we continue to prepare for the fall 2020 semester. Please note on Monday I announced that the fall semester will begin remotely. We look forward to answering your questions tomorrow tonight.

    The town hall meeting will be accessible via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. by using this link. A video recording also will be made available following the town hall if you are unable to participate live.

    I hope you can join us tomorrow.

7/27/20 Decision to delay in-person instruction until Sept. 8

    I write to you today to bring you an update regarding our back-to-school plans. There is no doubt that the health and safety of our students is the highest priority as we consider the start to the fall semester on August 24.

    In reviewing the latest S.C. DHEC data available, I note that only six of the 46 counties in South Carolina have not shown a significant increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. The national and international attention our state COVID-19 infection rates have generated has increased anxiety about returning to school be it in the K-12 or higher education environment.

    As the infection rate in South Carolina has risen, we have increasingly heard from concerned students and parents expressing uncertainty over coming back to campus and living in our residence halls. This is quite a change because only a month ago we heard how excited our students and parents were with the onset of classes. Having spoken to a number of my president colleagues in South Carolina, I know all state institutions are experiencing the same concerns over reopening with in-person classes. Some institutions are delaying their start date or others are considering beginning the academic year with remote instruction and then transitioning to in-person instruction later with the anticipation that infection mitigation efforts will begin to reduce the high infection rates we are currently experiencing.

    After a great deal of consideration of the available data regarding COVID-19 infection rates and for the health concerns and safety of our students, faculty and staff, we have made the difficult decision to begin our fall semester remotely. Specifically, the academic calendar will remain the same, but classes will begin on August 25 and be delivered remotely until September 8. This is a two-week delay of in-person classes, but it is necessary. We strongly feel beginning our academic year remotely is the right decision. Revised residence hall move-in dates and reduced housing and dining hall fees are being developed and will be shared with you in the next few days.

    Should the statewide COVID-19 infection rate remain high during the first week of September we may revisit this decision and determine whether it makes sense to continue to offer instruction remotely a bit longer.

    I hope you understand that our decisions are based on our judgment as to what is best for the health and safety of our students and on our ability to serve them academically in a healthy environment. Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we move forward together.

7/23/20 Latest Decisions on Housing, Class Delivery, and More

    Dear Winthrop Students and Families:

    On my webpage there is a video that talks about the family atmosphere at Winthrop. It’s one of the characteristics that attracted me to Winthrop; you might have been drawn to the university for the same reason. It’s against this backdrop of family that I write to you today to thank you for your patience and share more information as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters of COVID-19.

    First, I know many of you feel the frustration that folks on campus are experiencing as well. With its spread in our state and elsewhere, and new challenges emerging daily it seems, we have been forced to re-evaluate some of our earlier decisions. Our plans for this fall are undergoing constant review to ensure a safe return to classes this fall. Today, I want to share how we have adjusted our approach to living on campus as well as how we are approaching the delivery of our classes. 

    Housing  

    The “live on campus” first- and second-year housing requirement plays a large role in community building on campus and helps create the family atmosphere that is part and parcel of the Winthrop experience. While we are not ending the requirement this fall, we want all students and families to know that we will not be enforcing the residency requirement as in the past. We want our students and families to feel safe and comfortable with attending Winthrop, so we will be generous in approving housing waivers. No student who chooses an online schedule or to live away from campus due to the pandemic will be refused the option to do so. 

    We believe this is the right thing to do and that it demonstrates to the Winthrop community our compassion and understanding of the fear and uncertainty that students and families are experiencing right now. If you are a first- or second-year student and you do not feel comfortable living on campus this fall, please complete the housing waiver application that is available through the Eaglesnest Housing link under Student Tools on Wingspan. Likewise, if you are an upperclassman and want to cancel your housing application, you may use the same link. 

    If you plan to live on campus (we know that for some of our students this is not only a desire but a necessity), know that we are implementing myriad health and safety measures to contain virus spread within our community. You will hear more about those measures during our July 30 town hall (link info to come to you via email next week), but they include self-health monitoring, a masking requirement, social distancing, reduced capacities in campus buildings, increased cleaning/sanitization protocols, etc.

    Classes

    Secondly, in order to support the decisions of our students and families regarding instructional modality, we have transitioned courses to 35 percent in person, 30 percent online, and 35 percent hybrid (a mix of in-person and online). Students should check their schedules in Wingspan to see if the instructional modality for a class for which they have registered has changed, and if they are interested in building schedules that are entirely online for the fall semester, academic advisors are available to help them do so. We are asking students to reach out to their department chairs, deans and student services offices within the respective college for assistance if needed. More information is to come from Provost and Executive Vice President Adrienne McCormick in the coming days. 

    All of these efforts reflect our desire to meet students and families where they are given the pandemic. But one thing on which we cannot compromise is our commitment to the high-quality academic experience for which Winthrop is known. Believe me when I say we are investing a huge portion of our budget to continue to operate at our high standards as a university. Therefore, we are not planning to discount tuition this fall. Our students will continue to receive excellent academic instruction and support from their professors, advisors, and staff, as well as tutoring, research opportunities, career services, etc. Regardless of whether every student takes advantage of these offerings, we still must provide them as very often the cost to deliver such services virtually or in other alternative formats is every bit as cost intensive, if not more costly, as normal delivery. If we must pivot to fully remote instruction at some point, we may decide to look at fee reimbursements as we did in the spring, but that is farther down the road when the impact of the pandemic on fall operations is more evident. 

    New Student Orientation

    Finally, for new students and their family members, I want to let you know that, in the interest of health and safety, we have decided that the Eagles Landing phase of Orientation (previously scheduled to be on-campus sessions beginning in early August) will be held virtually. Students will receive more information from the New Student and Family Programs office regarding this change. 

    Again, I hope you understand these recent decisions that we have made with you in mind. We are committed to maintaining the quality of the educational experience we provide, while also protecting the health and safety of our Winthrop family members.  I look forward to sharing more information with you at the town hall on July 30. While we can only accommodate 500 for the virtual town hall, a recording will be made available soon after the virtual event for anyone who could not attend. We will also launch our Return to Learn website in the coming days. 

    I very much appreciate your flexibility and patience as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters as a family and community committed to our students. 

7/17/20 Recorded F/S Town Hall Meeting Link Available

    Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday’s faculty/staff virtual town hall meeting. I hope that the vice presidents and I were able to provide you with helpful information that addressed your questions and concerns regarding the campus re-opening and upcoming fall semester.

    If you were not able to attend the town hall, you may access the recorded session via this link

    There were some questions that we were not able to address but know that we are working on including these questions on the Return to Learn website as appropriate or sharing answers to them in upcoming communications.

    We will hold a Students/Families virtual town hall on Thursday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. in order to address questions and concerns from them as well.

    Thank you again for your hard work and patience as we prepare for the fall semester.

7/15/20 July Presidential Update to Faculty/Staff

    This summer has certainly been like no other. In summers past, campus would be bustling with Orientation sessions, campus tours and the day-to-day preparations to welcome our students in August. Much of that work continues this summer, just in a virtual manner. 

    With Phase 2 of our Return to Work plan underway and Phase 3 approaching, our focus remains on preparing and providing a safe and healthy workplace and learning space for employees and students. As we continue to settle into our new normal, please take a few moments to read about some important updates:

    Faculty/Staff Virtual Town Hall on Thursday

    As I shared via email on Monday, I invite you to participate in a virtual town hall meeting specifically for faculty and staff on Thursday, July 16, at 2 p.m. Members of senior leadership and I will be answering your questions concerning our campus reopening ahead of the fall 2020 semester. Questions will be accepted in advance through noon today by emailing townhalls@winthrop.edu. Please use this link to join the town hall on Thursday. I look forward to everyone participating in these important discussions.

    Facial Covering Requirements

    I would like to again convey that Winthrop is requiring all staff, faculty and students to wear masks or 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. Each employee should receive two reusable cloth facial coverings. Please also note that a facial covering mandate recently went into effect in Rock Hill. The mandate requires people to wear facial coverings in public places within city limits. Those places include restaurants, grocery stores, retail establishments and pharmacies. Wearing a facial covering helps protect us all, so please do your part to keep our campus and surrounding community safe and healthy.

    Tillman Hall Renaming Update

    On June 19, members of the Board of Trustees unanimously voted on a resolution requesting state legislators to consider an amendment to the Heritage Act of 2000 to allow Winthrop to restore Tillman Hall to its original name of Main Building. As you'll recall, our trustees do not have the power themselves to change the name. That power belongs to the S.C. General Assembly. I'm happy to report that our formal request in this matter has been sent to the legislators for their consideration. As stated previously, we will patiently await further discussion and action, and I will keep you appraised of any steps forward.

    Fall Homecoming Activities to Be Paused

    Due to continued concerns surrounding COVID-19, we have decided to pause all Homecoming activities this November, including Homecoming on the Green and the Homecoming tailgate. The Division of Student Affairs is considering hosting a spirit week in the spring depending on guidance at that time from the CDC and DHEC. This follows our earlier decision to reschedule for the spring all class reunions that are typically held on Homecoming weekend. These difficult decisions are again made to ensure the health and safety of the entire campus community, including our alumni and visitors. You can read more in this press release.

    Commencement Ceremony Latest

    As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state and in our county, we realize that holding a traditional, in-person Commencement ceremony in August to celebrate our May graduates would be unsafe. A survey was recently emailed to May graduates to gather their feedback on alternative Commencement options that would recognize and celebrate their achievements. Over 33 percent responded that rescheduling the ceremony when it is safe to hold large, indoor gatherings would be their first choice; 24 percent chose an outdoor ceremony as their first choice; and, additionally, 18 percent chose no ceremony as their first choice. We appreciate the feedback, and the Commencement Committee hopes to make a recommendation to senior leadership soon.

    Rock Hill Unite Local Relief Program

    Rock Hill City Council has been working to help provide assistance for Rock Hill residents and businesses during these difficult economic times. Funding is still available for these efforts. The Rock Hill Unite local relief program is designed to assist individuals and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The program includes residential utility assistance, small business utility assistance, service agency assistance and a small business loan program. More information on the Unite program may be found on the city’s website or by emailing unite@cityofrockhill.com or calling 803/817-5112.

    Thank you for making it this far if you're still reading! I know it's a lot of information to take in, but I feel that it's important to keep you in the loop on these topics. Please know that I appreciate your hard work as we work together to welcome our students, and I look forward to our time together during Thursday's town hall. 

7/15/20 July Presidential Update to Students

    Dear Students,

    I hope this email finds you healthy and well, and ready for a safe return to campus next month. As Winthrop continues its phased re-opening, please know that our focus remains on preparing and providing a safe and healthy learning space and workplace for you and our employees. As we continue to settle into our new normal, please take a few moments to read about some important updates:

    Students/Families Virtual Town Hall on July 30  

    I invite you to participate in a virtual town hall meeting specifically for students and families on Thursday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. Members of senior leadership and I will be answering your questions concerning the fall 2020 semester. Questions will be accepted in advance through noon on Friday, July 24, by emailing townhalls@winthrop.edu. More information will be shared closer to the event on how to join the town hall meeting. I look forward to participating in these important discussions with you and your loved ones.

    Facial Covering Requirements

    Please know that Winthrop is requiring all students, faculty and staff to wear masks or 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 on-campus residence hall rooms and when not in close contact with another person, such as walking alone outside. Upon return to campus, each student will receive a health kit that contains a reusable cloth facial covering, along with other items to help you meet Winthrop’s expectations for doing your part in maintaining a healthy campus community. Please also note that a facial covering mandate recently went into effect in Rock Hill. The mandate requires people to wear facial coverings in public places within city limits. Those places include restaurants, grocery stores, retail establishments and pharmacies. Wearing a facial covering helps protect us all, so please “mask up” to keep our campus and surrounding community safe and healthy.

    Campus Life Outlook

    Top of mind for many students are Winthrop’s plans for residential living, dining and student activities this fall. Staff members continue to work on final details, and more information will be available soon. As you may know, the Division of Student Affairs sent a July 9 student email entitled Fall Housing Information. The email provided an overview of next month’s move-in process and dates, fall housing assignments timeline and more. Additional details on many of these related plans will be sent in the next few weeks, so please monitor your Winthrop email account frequently and be on the lookout for these important updates.

    Winthrop Bookstore Now Open

    The Winthrop Bookstore, located in the DiGiorgio Campus Center, is now open and is implementing a number of measures to keep its customers safe, such as social distancing measures, contactless payment and more. The bookstore is continuing to process online orders as well.

    Fall Homecoming Activities to Be Paused

    Due to continued concerns surrounding COVID-19, we have decided to pause all Homecoming activities this November, including Homecoming on the Green and the Homecoming tailgate. The Division of Student Affairs is considering hosting a spirit week in the spring depending on guidance at that time from the CDC and DHEC. This difficult decision is again made to ensure the health and safety of the entire campus community. You can read more in this press release.

    Commencement Ceremony Latest

    As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state and in our county, we realize that holding a traditional, in-person Commencement ceremony in August to celebrate our May graduates would be unsafe. A survey was recently emailed to May graduates to gather their feedback on alternative Commencement options that would recognize and celebrate their achievements. Over 33 percent responded that rescheduling the ceremony when it is safe to hold large, indoor gatherings would be their first choice; 24 percent chose an outdoor ceremony as their first choice; and, additionally, 18 percent chose no ceremony as their first choice. We appreciate the feedback, and the Commencement Committee hopes to make a recommendation to senior leadership soon.

    Tillman Hall Renaming Update

    On June 19, members of the Board of Trustees unanimously voted on a resolution requesting state legislators to consider an amendment to the Heritage Act of 2000 to allow Winthrop to restore Tillman Hall to its original name of Main Building. As you'll recall, our trustees do not have the power themselves to change the name. That power belongs to the S.C. General Assembly. I'm pleased to report that our formal request in this matter has been sent to the legislators for their consideration. As stated previously, we will patiently await further discussion and action, and I will keep you appraised of any steps forward.

    Thank you for making it this far if you're still reading! I know it's a lot of information to take in, but I feel that it's important to keep you in the loop on these topics. Please know that there are a lot of people working very hard to prepare for your safe return next month. We can’t wait to welcome you back! Until then, I look forward to our time together during the July 30 town hall. 

    Warm regards,

    George

    George W. Hynd
    Interim President

7/13/20 Dr. Hynd's Invitation to Faculty/Staff Virtual Town Hall

    Now that we have launched Phase 2 of our Return to Work plan and are working toward Phase 3, I wanted to invite you to join me and other members of senior leadership for a Faculty/Staff virtual town hall meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 16.  

    As we plan to reopen campus for fall 2020, there are many details and issues to address, and we understand you may have questions. This hour-long town hall is designed especially for faculty and staff in order for us to provide you with answers as we prepare to welcome students back in a little over a month. We will continue to hold these town halls, including one planned for students and families during the first week of August, as needed.

    How to Ask a Question

    Your voices and questions are important. I invite your questions to be shared with us in advance by noon on Wednesday at townhalls@winthrop.edu or, if time during the meeting, asked/answered online toward the end of the town hall.

    Accessing the Town Hall Meeting

    The town hall meeting will be accessible via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on July 16 at 2 p.m.  A video recording also will be made available following the town hall if you are unable to participate live. More details on how to view the town hall will be provided by email on Wednesday.

    Please know that you are a valued member of the Winthrop community, and we look forward to hearing from you as we prepare for the fall. I hope you can join us on Thursday. 

 
Return to Learn Site Map

 

Last Updated: 11/17/20