Return to Learn


Academic Affairs 2020-21 Reopening Summary


Academic calendar

1.1. The Spring 2021 academic calendar has been modified. The first day of classes will be Jan. 11. The first week of the semester will be remote, with the on-campus component of instruction beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The university will forego the traditional Spring Break and will instead build in five days throughout the semester in which there are no classes. Those days are: Tuesday, Feb. 16; Wednesday, March 3; Thursday, March 18; Friday, April 9; and Monday, April 19. Finals week and the end of the semester will remain as planned.

1.2. Winthrop’s 2020-2021 academic calendar for fully online graduate programs has not changed.

Instructional return plan

2.1. Colleges and academic departments have modified the Spring 2021 course schedule such that approximately 30 percent of courses will be fully online, and 70 percent will be a mix of hybrid and fully in-person instruction. Adjustments to instructional space maximums remain in place to avoid students convening in large groups for classes. 

2.2. All faculty assigned in-person and hybrid courses for campus-based instruction must have plans in place for pivoting to fully remote/online delivery, in the event of delayed reopening or a return to fully remote campus operations.

2.3. To the extent possible, faculty teaching in-person classes will offer remote access options to individual students who need to quarantine or self-isolate or who experience travel complications impacting their return to campus (e.g., international students). Classrooms will be outfitted with cameras and additional mics to support remote access. Individual colleges, departments, and program faculty are responsible for making decisions on how to deliver required course and program activities for students who cannot attend in-person activities. This should include remote instruction/activities and one-on-one supplemental support (where necessary) that consider time zone, access, and equity issues. (See section 8.2 on faculty training for new classroom technology needs relating to remote access for in-person classes.)

2.4. Faculty teaching fully online and hybrid sections in the 2020-2021 academic year must complete WOTC 101 and 102 and/or have been previously alternatively certified through demonstration of the appropriate skills to offer online and hybrid courses. Exceptions must be approved by the Dean. This ensures that all faculty are well prepared to deliver a quality online learning experience and that students have an equal opportunity to achieve course learning objectives regardless of modality. Faculty teaching in-person courses whose pivot plan is to shift to online must enroll in a WOTC 101 section as soon as possible. Additional resources will be made available through the Center for Professional Excellence to support all faculty in delivery of digital materials.

2.5. Faculty who have significant risk factors or are uncomfortable attending in-person classes under certain operating scenarios were given the option to shift their courses to online modalities. Faculty who wish to shift an existing course modality (in-person or hybrid to fully online) must request approval from their department chair and respective dean.  In order to shift to fully online, faculty members must have completed WOTC training. Additional requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Faculty are encouraged to await guidance from their deans rather than making additional individual requests at this time.

2.6.  Students with underlying risk factors have been and will continue to be assisted in building a fully online/remote schedule. Students requesting to change their schedules to fully online/remote due to underlying risk factors are being directed to department chairs and deans for assistance. Housing exemptions will be handled through Residence Life.

2.7 Faculty and staff are important partners in campus efforts to report and monitor student health and should keep the following in mind when working with students.

  • A positive COVID-19 test is a reportable condition to SCDHEC. DHEC manages contact tracing and will coordinate with Health Services and Human Resources regarding students and employees who have been identified as close contacts.
  • Please direct students who report feeling unwell to the Health Services Medicat Patient Portal to initiate telephone triage with a nurse. Health Services will operate by appointment only, no walk-ins.
  • Please send an email to when a student shares that they have been diagnosed with or directly exposed to COVID-19. Health Services will contact the student directly. Please provide the student’s name, CWID, and current phone number if you have it. Health Services will only identify students for DHEC reporting and to initiate residential student temporary housing. Health Services will not communicate about any related student test results with faculty or staff.
  • Health Services will communicate information to the Dean of Students Office regarding students who need to quarantine or isolate and the associated timeframe. The Dean of Students Office will issue an absence notification (dates only, not condition) to students’ faculty. Health Services will communicate with affected students daily; therefore, we will not issue a letter of clearance to return to class. Should a student’s condition change, Health Services will notify the Dean of Students Office of a change in dates for the quarantine or isolation period.
  • Students who must self-isolate or quarantine will need to attend any in-person classes remotely, as their personal wellness allows. After receiving an absence notification from the Dean of Students Office, faculty will reach out to students to clarify remote access information for the course, should the student be well enough to participate virtually.

2.8. Winthrop’s Common Meeting Time on Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15 has been eliminated from the 2020-2021 calendar in order to increase scheduling flexibility to distribute courses across all time slots and reduce congestion in the dining halls and at events during this window of time. 

2.9 Cultural Events will be subject to physical distancing expectations. For students graduating in December 2020, 9 cultural events credits will be waived. For additional guidance, see the Cultural Events website.

2.10. Faculty will have access to an institutional Zoom license, as well as ongoing access to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet to enable high student engagement in their classes. Computing and Information Technology Services encourages all faculty to continue using cloud-based software solutions whenever possible. In the event that Winthrop moves to fully remote instruction in response to the pandemic, IT will collaborate with faculty and departments to ensure on-going access to home licenses for students who require software solutions to accomplish learning outcomes in their classwork, labs, studios, and practicum areas.

2.11. Each full-time faculty member will be provided a laptop and the required software needed to ensure equitable student experiences. Adjuncts will be provided loaner laptops if they do not already have a personal laptop at their disposal.

2.12. Faculty teaching fully online courses are encouraged to organize both student-faculty and student-student interaction to immerse students in active learning activities, and to consider the benefits of some synchronous connection with students for whom fully asynchronous online modalities may not have been their optimal choice.

2.13 Faculty and academic staff will continue to work with students to foster a strong academic community outside of the classroom and ensure continuity of high-impact and signature practices for which Winthrop is widely recognized. Activities will include virtual seminars and special events; applied practice activities that bring students into short-term projects; individual and group mentoring and professional development sessions; and participation in student-led groups and activities. 

2.14. Student research opportunities in collaboration with faculty will continue on-campus under social distancing guidelines, and to the extent possible, remotely if necessary. On-campus student research experiences resumed in Summer Session D.

2.15. Winthrop Office of Online Learning (WOOL) and the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) will partner on providing a diverse array of support to help faculty transition to and excel in online teaching. Instructional designers will work with faculty on developing their digital pedagogies. CPE will provide webinars to increase faculty preparedness to address the challenges of fluid instructional environments likely to be encountered during the pandemic.

2.16. ACAD 101: Principles of the Learning Academy will be offered fully online in Spring 2021 to provide first-year students an orientation to online services and resources and provide necessary skill development for success in online learning.

2.17. Faculty should review Winthrop’s student class attendance policy, which stipulates that “attendance” is measured by course activity participation in online learning modalities. The definition of an absence needs to be operationally defined in the course syllabus. Faculty are expected to provide appropriate guidance and flexibility should students become ill. When students need attendance accommodations as approved through the Office of Accessibility (OA), faculty should adhere closely to the limits of those accommodations and reach out to OA staff with any questions. Faculty should be as flexible as possible, but not to the point of exceeding the individual accommodation stipulations or compromising the integrity of course learning outcomes. Students who express anxiety or concerns about attendance can be directed to our tele-mental health support services accessible via the Medicat Patient Portal.

2.18. Academic support such as advising, office hours, and tutoring will continue to be provided in virtual formats in order to minimize face-to-face contact in small office spaces. Colleges will provide specific guidance on faculty office hour requirements in keeping with institutional policy.

2.19. Faculty are exploring conditions wherein classes may be taught in outdoor environments to further increase distancing and reduce the likelihood of transmission.

2.20. Faculty teaching online, hybrid, and in-person instruction must continue to adhere to ADA compliance expectations. More information about accessibility is available on the Office of Accessibility website at

2.21. SACSCOC has granted accreditation approval to deliver online courses through the end of December 2020 should Winthrop need to employ fully remote instructional delivery in response to the pandemic. All online and hybrid course offerings will adhere to accreditation standards for online learning.

Grading and assessment

3.1. Grading will return to normal for Spring 2021: regular letter grades and the standard S/U policies will apply; grading expectations and learning outcomes should be the same for online, hybrid, and in-person instructional modalities. 

3.2. Assessment practices for online and hybrid programs are consistent with assessment expectations for in-person coursework. Online assessment practices will continue to ensure academic integrity, utilizing resources such as Respondus and Turnitin.

3.3. All courses must continue to have student learning outcomes clearly mapped to program outcomes, general education outcomes, and /or university-level competencies, whether online, hybrid, or in person.

3.4. Course evaluations will be used as one metric for gauging student perceptions of learning regardless of delivery modality. The Provost’s Office will return to the Tenure and Promotion Task Force recommendation to review student course evaluation procedures as soon as possible.

3.5. Policies and procedures for ensuring academic integrity will continue to be followed and enforced regardless of delivery modality.

3.6 All courses will have a Blackboard course shell, and all faculty must post syllabi for their courses on Blackboard for all in-person, hybrid, and online sections. Faculty using other online/remote delivery platforms will use the course Blackboard site to provide directions to students for accessing the alternate instructional platform.

3.7. All assignments and class materials should be provided to students, submitted, and/or returned to students using Blackboard or other electronic options to the extent possible. 

Instructional space

4.1. Working collaboratively, the staff from Campus Scheduling, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and Facilities Management (FM) have assessed the occupancy capacity of each instructional space while complying with physical distancing recommendations, and they have set occupancy limits for each instructional space. Signage will be established in each space; in July 2020, adjustments to classroom assignments were made and communicated to Department Chairs.

4.2. Instructional space ingress and egress will be addressed with physical distancing needs in mind.  This is being done to determine impact on the time needed for student movement between classrooms and buildings.

4.3. EHS and FM staff have assessed transit spaces in academic and other buildings and are implementing physical distancing measures.

4.4 The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) will serve as a consultant to Winthrop in reviewing physical distancing measures and all other facets of our return plan.

4.5. FM staff have produced some plexiglass shields for high-traffic office interface areas, but resource limitations prevent shields from being installed in each classroom. As materials become available, FM will partner with OA to identify faculty who may have needs for a shield, due to medical or accessibility needs in the classroom, as long as the space allows proper distancing to ensure faculty safety.

4.6. Reusable masks were distributed across campus for all full-time faculty and staff on June 30, 2020. CDC guidance documents on proper use and cleaning were included, shared electronically, and will be prominently featured on the Return to Learn website.   

4.7. Face masking is mandatory in all campus buildings.

4.8. Face masks must always be worn by faculty during in-person instruction. Faculty who have concerns about the impact of masking on their teaching/instructional ability should contact their department chair to discuss reasonable accommodations. Faculty and staff are not required to wear masks when they are alone in their private office space with the door closed.

4.9. Face shields, see-through masks, and/or plexiglass lectern shields will be provided to faculty with students who practice lip-reading and/or work with interpreters. Faculty who teach classes with students requiring sign-language interpreters will be accommodated with appropriate physical distancing to ensure safety. Interpreters will provide their own face shields and adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Faculty with students requiring these accommodations will be informed by the Office of Accessibility prior to the start of Spring 2021 classes.

4.10. Students in the classroom are required to wear a mask. There may be rare instances where exceptions are made for medical reasons, religious beliefs, and/or accommodations for disabilities, or highly specialized activities such as dance, if physical distancing allows. Students who refuse to wear a mask in the classroom and do not have prior approval to wear a face shield instead are in violation of campus protocols and the Student Code of Conduct (pdf - 279 KB) and should be asked to leave the classroom. Faculty are expected to be the front-line in navigating such situations as part of their classroom management plans. After addressing the concern with the student, faculty may also then use the Maxient system to report the disruptive behavior to the Dean of Students Office for follow-up in the student disciplinary system. Faculty should call Winthrop University Police only if a student becomes disruptive beyond the faculty member’s ability to safely manage the classroom situation.  The following “Reach, Respond, Refer” protocol has been developed to guide faculty and staff in responding to students who may be unable to mask and/or who may report to classes, office workplaces, and/or events without masks:


  • REACH: Prior to the start of spring semester, faculty should proactively contact the students enrolled in their class (via Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)) to inform them that the campus requirement is for “students to wear face masks in all buildings”. If the student is UNABLE to wear a mask, they should notify the faculty member immediately and not report to the class until an appropriate plan is in place for them to safely participate in class.
  • RESPOND If a student responds that they are unable to wear a face mask, the faculty should inquire if the student is able to wear an alternate face covering, including the use of a scarf or other loose face covering; or as a last option, the use of a face shield, but only if classroom spacing allows appropriate distance. The faculty member can also point the student to advisors, chairs, and/or deans to identify other online options to meet the student’s learning needs.
  • REFER: If the reason they are unable to wear a face covering is related to a disability or condition (medical, psychological, et. al.), the faculty member may refer the student to the Office of Accessibility to begin the interactive process, as stated on the syllabus, to assess if additional classroom accommodations are needed.

If a student arrives to class without a mask and informs the faculty member that they are unable to wear a mask, the student needs to leave the class and the faculty member can follow up with the student via email to cover respond and refer steps.

Full student safety protocols were developed in partnership with Student Affairs units and are available here.

 4.11 When someone presents in a classroom and is not wearing a mask/face covering, approach the situation with tact, good judgment, and curiosity. In a discrete, tactful manner, we suggest the following language to help faculty and staff determine whether special accommodations for underlying conditions (such as temporary shortness of breath, anxiety, PTSD, claustrophobia, or a general or mental health condition) or religious beliefs are needed while not asking specifically about the context:

 Are you unable to meet the campus COVID-19 protocols requiring masks or face coverings?  

 4.11.1 If the answer is “Yes” due to an underlying health concern or a religious belief, the student should be provided remote access to instructional materials for the day and informed that: 

  • Current campus protocols state that a mask or face covering is required in campus buildings.
  • In order to attend the in-person class, the student may utilize one of the following accommodations for students who cannot mask:
    • the use of a scarf or loose face covering;
    • the use of a face shield, if classroom spacing allows appropriate distance; or
    • shifting to an online section of the same course via drop/add, in consultation with an advisor, student services staff member, or department chair
    • failing these accommodations, discussing whether remote access to hybrid and/or in-person courses is possible, a decision that must be made only in rare instances and by the individual instructor based on the course learning outcomes.

 4.11.2 If the answer is “Yes” due to a disability, the student should be provided remote access to instructional materials for the day and instructed to:

  • Contact the Office of Accessibility (OA) by phone 803/323-3290 or email to engage in the OA registration process to determine reasonable accommodations such as those in the bulleted list above to ensure equal access to learning.
  • OA will guide students in how to communicate with faculty regarding their accommodations, including whether they opt to continue remote access or pursue an alternative option that enables the student to safely return to the physical classroom.

 4.11.3 If the answer is “No” the student should be informed that: 

  • Current campus protocols state that a mask or face covering is required in all campus buildings and that the policy is designed to protect them as well as other members of the campus community.
  • The student may stay present in the classroom if they put on a mask. Faculty are encouraged to bring a small number of disposable masks to classes for the first weeks in preparation for such instances.
  • If the student continues to refuse to mask, they will need to leave the area immediately, or they will be reported to the Dean of Students Office for non-compliance.  

 4.12 If the student refuses to mask in class and/or leave the classroom after being asked, the faculty member should report the incident to the Dean of Students Office for follow up as a violation of our Student Code of Conduct. Please use the following link to report student-involved non-compliance incidents to the Dean of Students Office: Report Non-Compliance. If the student refuses to mask, does not leave the area, and becomes disruptive in a manner that exceeds the faculty member or staff person’s ability to control the situation, Campus Police may be called for assistance. Faculty and staff should utilize their classroom and employee management skills until they are exhausted before calling Campus Police. 

 4.13 If a student is not wearing a mask in a place of employment on campus, the supervisor should avoid asking about the student’s personal situation, but instead ask:

Are you unable to meet the campus COVID-19 protocols requiring masks or face coverings?  

  • If “yes” due to an underlying condition or religious belief, the supervisor should explore whether the job functions can be completed via an accommodation, such as a loose scarf or face covering, a face shield in combination with physical distancing, or remote work assignment, if possible. Supervisors should reach out to Human Resources via email or telephone 803/323-2273 with any questions.
  • If “no,” the student worker should be reminded of our campus requirement and provided a disposable mask if they wish to remain at work. If the student refuses to mask, they should be asked to leave the workspace and disciplined appropriately as a violation of our Phased Return to Work plan, up to and including termination from the position of employment.

4.14 If a student attends an in-person event or shows up for a meeting or appointment without a mask, the organizer should ask:

 Are you unable to meet the campus COVID-19 protocols requiring masks or face coverings?  

  • If “yes” due to an underlying condition or religious belief, be sure not to ask inappropriate questions about the condition or belief. Focus your comments on providing alternate means of satisfying the in-person event requirement, providing remote access to an in-person meeting, or making a virtual appointment, for example.
  • If “no,” the student worker should be reminded of our campus requirement and provided a disposable mask if they wish to remain at the event, meeting, or appointment. If the student refuses to mask, they should be asked to leave the event, meeting, or appointment. If the student refuses to mask and/or leave after being asked, the faculty or staff member responsible for the event, meeting, or appointment should report the incident to the Dean of Students Office for follow up as a violation of our Student Code of Conduct. Please use the following link to report student-involved non-compliance incidents to the Dean of Students Office: Report Non-Compliance
  • As with classroom situations, use Campus Police only as a last resort when a situation feels threatening.

 4.15. Faculty teaching courses that involve in-person attendance should include a statement on their syllabi about expectations for masking and safety practices, such as: “Winthrop requires that all students adhere to safety practices that will minimize the transmission of COVID-19 within the campus community. Accordingly, students are expected to engage in social distancing and wear a cloth face mask while on campus. Failure to comply with this requirement in the classroom will result in dismissal from the current class meeting. Repeated violations will be reported to the Dean of Students as a violation of the Student Conduct Code. Students with conditions that prohibit the wearing of a face mask should discuss this with their instructor and/or contact the Office of Accessibility to arrange appropriate accommodations.”

4.16. Supplies for sanitizing offices were provided for each unit in Academic Affairs with the cleaning kit distribution on June 30, 2020. 

4.17. Students, faculty, and staff will have access to sanitation products in the classroom.  Faculty and students should sanitize the space as they enter their instructional spaces to supplement the work of our facilities management team.

4.18 Virtual office hours for all faculty should be the norm. Virtual offices hours must be posted along with the platform that will be used.

4.19. When a remote option is not an effective solution for a faculty meeting or for office hours, the meeting should be scheduled in advance and should not take place in offices; instead, it should occur in a designated meeting space that allows for physical distancing and masking.

Specialized spaces (labs, studios, performance spaces)

5.1. Where possible, individual colleges and departments have developed methods to adapt specialized coursework, enrichment programs, and other highly interactive experiences for virtual delivery while preserving the quality of learning.

5.2. Individual colleges and departments may cancel, postpone, or restructure specialty coursework, enrichment programs, and other highly interactive experiences should they present a threat to safety (including singing classes, choirs, or any other non-athletic activity involving possible increased respiratory droplet generation, where physical distancing cannot be observed).

5.3. Individual colleges and departments have incorporated additional safety measures to reduce risk for students who are enrolled in and scheduled to use labs, studios, performance spaces, music practice rooms or who are participating in programs requiring proximity to other people. Additionally, courses that require close physical contact and require access to specialized equipment and/or hands-on spaces, such as athletic training and exercise science, may require alternate assignments and/or additional protections.

5.4. Individual colleges and departments, working with EHS and course scheduling staff, have set occupancy limits in each specialized instructional space based on physical distancing measures and/or federal/state/local mandates.

5.5. Specialized activities can be relocated to outdoor areas to decrease risk.

5.6. Units with specialized learning will suspend activities in spaces where physical distancing and sanitation are not possible.

5.7. Responsible units should use their Chemical Hygiene and Safety plans to outline procedures for cleaning and disinfecting specialized spaces. The plans should be shared with Environmental Health and Safety and outline the specific roles of custodial staff and the departments when disinfection is required.  


Research activities and laboratories play a vital role in Winthrop’s learning environment.  Winthrop faculty have the training to ensure research activities proceed in a safe manner.  

6.1. Colleges and departments with research labs will collaborate with Facilities Management and Environmental Health and Safety to establish and implement physical distancing, PPE, and cleaning protocols for laboratories and other research facilities.

6.2. Colleges and departments with labs have and will continue to maintain safety protocols related to ongoing laboratory work, and/or human-subject research during a full or partial campus shutdown and will oversee safe closure of labs to ensure that equipment is cleaned, samples safely stored, and waste properly disposed.

6.3. Winthrop’s Division of Advancement has established emergency financial support for students, such as those whose work assignments or ability to pursue research opportunities may be reduced due to remote learning conditions.

6.4. Individual colleges and departments will continue to follow the respective critical maintenance procedures necessary to maintain safety or long-term viability of laboratories during a full or partial campus shutdown (e.g., care of herbariums and live cultures and maintenance of critical equipment that requires regular monitoring, such as cryogens, freezers, electron microscopes, or incubators) and has identified the faculty and staff needed to maintain these levels of operations.  

6.5. If the campus shifts to remote again, individual faculty will work with their chairs and college dean to get approval for continuation of essential lab-based research due to special circumstances.

6.6. Individual colleges and departments will ensure labs are prepared for safe resumption of activities and researchers have arranged spaces and developed protocols that ensure social and temporal distancing, cleaning of shared equipment, and use of appropriate PPE.

Library and archives

7.1. The Library’s preparations for return to campus include: limited employees only during the recent migration project; limited employees and by-appointment as we approach return to campus; and as we phase to re-open, staggered employees, reduced capacity seating on the main floor and at computer stations, restricted access to physical collections, and continuing focus on appointment-centric in-person and virtual/online chat interactions. See section 7.2 for information about services the library will offer online or remotely; see 7.6 for information on requesting and picking up resources from the library’s physical collections. Beginning September 8, 2020, the Library will restrict building access to currently enrolled Winthrop University students, currently employed Winthrop University faculty and staff, and community users who have a current library access card. These restrictions will be in effect until the campus moves to Phase III or the state of South Carolina’s 7-day rolling average of cases per 100,000 people is 10 or lower (Covid Risk Level Yellow or Green). Pettus Archives has established a policy for service to patrons for Phase II including:  50% of the staff in the building at any one time; visitors may access the building for research by appointment only; assist researchers as much as possible via telephone, email, or mail; limit researcher capacity for on-site research; and reproduction of material when feasible and not harmful to historical documents. The same policies will be in effect for Phase II except that most employees will be on-site daily.  The Library and Archives may offer on-site programs and events where social distancing can be observed; and are considering offering hybrid or virtual programs and events. 

7.2. The following Library services will be provided online and remotely: limited Interlibrary Loan and PASCAL Delivers services, electronic course reserves, reference services, research consultations, information literacy or embedded librarian instruction sessions. Library employees are trained in the necessary tools and technologies to support these services. Physical course reserves and textbooks reserves will not be offered. Additionally, Interlibrary Loan and PASCAL Delivers services are subject to the circulating and materials quarantine/safety rules and policies of lending institutions.

7.3. The Library is working with publishers and vendors and identifying platforms to provide electronic versions of resources – including electronic textbooks – where possible, taking advantage of internal resources and emergency provisions being made available by some publishers and member organizations. The Library is also joining consortia programs like PASCAL’s Open Textbook Network and leveraging and/or collocating Open Access and Open Educational Resources platforms, programs, and portals (e.g., Directory of Online Journals, virtual libraries, institutional repositories, and open digital and exhibit collections, and more). We are continuing our established relationships with resource-sharing groups that significantly reduce our ILL borrowing costs - including LVIS, Soline, SO6, BCOV, and ACOV.

7.4. Dacus Library and Pettus Archives will make available electronic material though the library’s website (including the online catalog and Research Guides) and Digital Commons. Print materials owned by the library will be scanned within Fair Use guidelines.

7.5. Dacus Library employees will continue to analyze and monitor the cost of purchasing online versions of materials needed for teaching and research versus the cost of shipping materials directly to remote faculty and students.

7.6. While buildings are closed or have limited access, library materials are still available. Print materials in the collection may be requested online and picked up in the Library vestibule (user pick-up). Physical course reserves – including textbook reserves – will not be available. The Library’s COVID-19 Response Guide provides instructions for requesting and picking up regularly circulating materials.

7.7. Returned library materials will be quarantined for four days before checking them in. Pettus Archives will quarantine material for four days after use before re-shelving or re-use by another researcher.

7.8. Seating and computer stations have been reduced to ensure physical distancing. See sections 7.2 and 7.6 for collection restrictions and materials handling/cleaning/quarantining protocols.

7.9. The Information Commons Desk will be sanitized after each shift by library employees.  Computer stations will be sanitized after each use by library employees until enough cleaning supplies are available to have supplies at each station. Cleaning protocols for computer stations are being refined. Pettus Archives’ cleaning protocols include wiping down research tables, keyboards, and equipment after each use with a product that either does not leave residue or is safe for historical documents.

7.10. Sneeze guards are installed at higher-traffic public service points. Materials check-out is by user request only.

7.11. Pettus Archives’ research and sessions to instruct students in archival research and practices will be held virtually due to the inability of Archives to have adequate room for social distancing of more than 10 students at one time. Exceptions may be made for classes of 10 or less or if the class instructor is willing to schedule two or more sessions for each class. The Library Depending on the technology available, information literacy and embedded librarian instruction will take place outside of the Library (in the requesting faculty member’s regular meeting classroom) or virtually.

Faculty and faculty governance

8.1. Protection of Faculty

8.1.1. Faculty or staff who are at higher risk due to age, health status, or family considerations have been given the flexibility to continue to work/teach remotely. Specifically, schedules were revised in consultation with faculty, and the campus has offered a phased return to work plan that is available on the HR website featuring COVID-19 Information for Employees. Any updates to the phased return to work plan will be posted at this site as we move forward.

8.1.3. Virtual office hours will be standard for faculty during Spring 2021 in order to minimize face-to-face contact with students and colleagues.

8.1.4. Remote meetings between faculty via Teams, Blackboard, and Zoom will be the standard to minimize face-to-face contact. Faculty may hold small-group face-to-face meetings with other faculty in outside areas or in common spaces, empty classrooms, or conference rooms to allow for adequate physical distancing.

8.1.5. Faculty and staff offices and work areas will be arranged by unit staff to allow safe physical distancing. If office/workspace density does not allow safe physical distancing, the unit may implement staggered work schedules or continue remote work for faculty and staff as necessary and appropriate in accordance with our phased return to work plan.

8.1.7. Human Resources will oversee isolation/quarantine policies for faculty and staff, following DHEC guidance. Employees with COVID-19 exposure, symptoms, or positive diagnosis should follow this protocol (pdf - 560 KB) and refer to the Phased Return to Work Plan on the COVID-19 Information for Employees website for additional guidance. In short:

  • If an employee becomes aware of exposure or suspected exposure while at home or outside of work in the community, the employee should NOT COME TO WORK and contact LeeAnn Pounds or Lisa Cowart in Human Resources at
  • If an employee becomes aware of exposure or suspected exposure, or starts to feel symptoms while at work, the employee should be isolated immediately, leave work if well enough to drive or contact a family member for transportation. The employee or the supervisor should contact LeeAnn Pounds or Lisa Cowart in Human Resources at
  • The supervisor must take precautions to protect the employee’s privacy and not discuss protected health information with other employees.
  • For additional details, please see the full Protocol regarding employees with COVID-19 Exposure, Symptoms, or Positive Diagnosis.

8.2. Faculty Training

8.2.1. The Winthrop Office of Online Learning (WOOL) has provided and will continue ongoing training for online instruction to faculty and staff.

8.2.2. The Center for Professional Excellence has provided and will continue to offer faculty training opportunities on fluid instruction, remote learning, and digital pedagogies.  

8.2.3 Faculty are encouraged to continue their contributions to a sharing economy, as in-house experts can offer much-needed guidance to their peers. This represents the best of the Winthrop spirit!

8.2.4 Training opportunities on virtual office hours, advising, and high-flex instruction using tools such as Zoom are under development and will be offered on an ongoing basis.

8.2.5 Dacus Library will offer to faculty virtual training opportunities for the Open Textbook Network service via PASCAL throughout July 2020. Trainings will be recorded and available to interested employees.

8.3. Promotion & Tenure

8.3.1. The Provost’s Office developed accommodations for faculty undergoing review for promotion and tenure in the post-COVID future.  

8.3.2. Faculty have been given the option on whether to include student evaluations of teaching from spring 2020 courses in their subsequent promotion, pre-tenure, tenure, and post-tenure review packets. The Provost’s Office has been tasked with reviewing how we use student course evaluations in future faculty evaluation processes. Findings from that review will be used to inform future discussions of student evaluations. Spring 2021 student course evaluations will be included in promotion, pre-tenure, tenure, and post-tenure review packets according to the appropriate policy.

8.3.3. Faculty will be provided guidance at the college-level using discipline-specific norms on how to indicate in their list of accomplishments professional activities that were cancelled, postponed, or disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

8.3.4. Guidelines will be provided at the college-level to all those involved in annual, promotion, tenure (including pre-tenure and post-tenure), and merit reviews to ensure that faculty whose cases are reviewed in current or future years will be given fair consideration considering the disruption caused by COVID-19.  The guidance instructs department chairs, promotion and tenure committee members, and mentors to avoid prejudicial judgments against faculty who choose not to include their spring 2020 course evaluations in their annual reports or cases or who were not able to present at a conference or otherwise fulfill a professional activity due to the pandemic.

8.4. Faculty Governance

8.4.1. Faculty Conference and its constituent groups will continue to play a key role in academic policy decisions that arise from COVID-19 conditions.

8.4.2.  The Winthrop Office of Online Learning will work with Academic Council and respective assessment staff in each department and college to continually monitor the quality of our online programs. WOOL staff have worked in partnership with Wiley colleagues to observe and improve online course design and ensure alignment with online excellence indicators.

8.4.3. Faculty Conference meetings, both in full and in standing committees, will continue to meet virtually for the Spring 2021 semester.

Academic support units

9.1. Academic advising for major programs and courses will continue to be available virtually through academic departments and individual faculty advisors.

9.2. Student services offices will continue to provide balanced virtual appointment structures, serving students with questions regarding major changes, overrides, petitions, and other typical student support and problem-solving activities. Limited in-person meetings will be available by appointment only and will take place in a location where physical distancing can be observed.

9.3. Professional advising and student support staff in the degree-granting colleges and University College will continue to provide select in-person and flexible access to virtual student support services through online appointment systems.

9.4. Academic support units will continue to provide virtual services to students in need of improving skills and knowledge, whether related to course material or becoming successful in other areas. The Academic Success Center provides widespread tutoring support; the Writing Center provides guidance on writing skills; the Math Tutorial Center provides math supports; the Chemistry Tutoring Center provides specific supports to STEM students; and library faculty provide specific research and information literacy supports for students.  

9.5. Academic supports will be offered in a variety of formats recognizing the needs of students who may not have ideal study environments and lack consistent access to reliable devices, internet access, quiet workspaces, and/or freedom from caring for others.

9.6. Support for career development is more crucial now than ever given the economic fallout of COVID-19. Individual academic colleges and departments will partner with staff in the Center for Career Development and Internships (CDI) to ensure supports are tailored to the changing economy and the safety needs of our students as they engage in internships and other career-exploration activities. Delivery of career services supports will include virtual activities and services as much as possible.

9.7. Faculty and staff who support student professional development will use labor economics data to gauge the employment environment for their programs’ graduates, including wage rates, employment demand, regional disparities, and especially areas of decreasing employment.

9.8. Academic leadership will continue to evaluate Winthrop’s program portfolio given the regional employment environment and changing demand.

9.9. Career services collaborations between academic units and CDI will consider ways to expand outreach efforts to the local community to find internships and employment for its students.

9.10. Any students engaged in internship and employment activities must adhere to both site-based and campus expectations for masking and physical distancing, as well as ongoing attention to hygiene practices designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

International Center

10.1 The International Center (IC) has provided recommendations for international academic support impacted by federal immigration regulations and Winthrop COVID-19 policies.

10.2. IC continues to process immigration documents for newly admitted international students.  IC also regularly monitors the U.S. Department of State visa issuance processes and availability, White House Executive Orders, travel restrictions and bans, and relevant updates from the Department of Homeland Security.  IC follows relevant protocols related to travel and quarantine as advised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

10.3 In the event that Winthrop moves to fully online instruction again and closes campus facilities, IC will coordinate with University Housing to assist with on-campus housing needs for international students as well as provide support for immigration and student services. 

10.4. IC and Center for Student Wellness will continue to provide international students with any needed mental health support, which may include native language support, in the event of quarantine. 

10.5. Remote and in-person learning along with relevant student services are being provided to international students who are unable to join in-person classes at the start of the semester/term. 

10.6. The IC Director and staff continue to monitor immigration needs and support services required by international students during any transition process and have developed plans to support students appropriately. 

10.7. Support service options have been and will continue to be communicated to international students, relevant constituents, and institutional support services including academic departments, Athletics, Student Services offices, Center for Student Wellness, and Residence Life. 

10.8. In-person study abroad programs for Spring 2021 have been postponed, cancelled, or rescheduled.  Virtual study abroad options have been offered to impacted students.

10.9 International faculty and staff with immigration needs (e.g. H1-B visas, TN visas, pending Permanent Residency petitions, etc.) continue to be managed by IC staff with support from Human Resources Employee Diversity and Wellness, the Provost’s Office, and the employee’s respective Dean/Division as federal policy continues to shift.


Archived updates from the Provost