Return to Learn

Return to Learn

LATEST NEWS: Delay of in-person instruction until Sept. 8

 

The fall 2020 semester will be unlike any other, and we have been hard at work making plans to create a safe and welcoming environment in which students and employees can live, learn and work. Your time on campus will look different in many ways, and we will all need to make adjustments. 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 are preparing for a return to learning on campus at Winthrop. Our plans reflect current public health guidance and are subject to change before and after classes begin.

Students

Employees

Faculty

FAQ

Questions?

Watch the Town Hall for Students and Families that was held July 30, 2020


Watch the Town Hall for Faculty and Staff that was held July 16, 2020


Read through our FAQs


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


Review the latest Return to Work plan (pdf - 341 KB)


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

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: 8/7/20