ROCK HILL, S.C. — Winthrop University’s campus will look a little bare over the next few weeks.
Amid coronavirus concerns, the university has decided to extend it’s spring break from one week to three weeks.
After President Trump’s announcement last night limiting travel from European countries, university leaders released a statement saying that they’re working to get students studying abroad to get home safely.
President George Hynd says the school has been in contact with the students since that start of the outbreak.
He says the school is committed to helping them return and the “wheels are in motion.”
And with student’s extended break, instead of returning to class, the school is telling students to preparing to take courses online.
“Some classes said that we might have to do video chats, “said Hannah Pittman, a freshman at Winthrop University. “I don’t know how other people are with internet, but I know a lot of people aren’t gonna have access to internet, it’s gonna be kinda tricky.”
“It’s a little stressful or quite stressful because as future teachers we worry about how they’re going to do that online – and switching to online from in person,” said Jade Tanner, Winthrop University junior.
Many other students expressed that they’re are actually excited for the extended break where they’ll be able to spend more time with friends and family.
President Hynd’s full message about how COVID-19 will affect campus below:
A Message from President George W. Hynd
We are shifting our COVID-19 campus response as new information is coming quickly and the ability to be nimble is what we have been working toward for several weeks. I am pleased that our vice presidents and unit leaders are following recommendations from the CDC, DHEC, and their professional associations, as well as modeling plans from peer institutions as we learn of them. As a result of widespread campus consultation in the last few days, primarily through leadership in the academic and student affairs divisions, Winthrop’s senior leadership has new recommendations. Based on their recommendations and on further due considerations, I am informing you of the following.
Changes to Instructional Delivery Post-Spring Break
Out of an abundance of caution, we will move to remote instruction for March 23-April 3, which are the two weeks following Spring Break. To prepare for this shift, faculty will start now preparing for delivery of remote instruction, and their efforts will continue March 16-20, while students are away on the break. The Academic Affairs division has been working on this for the last two weeks, and Winthrop’s Office of Online Learning has prepared a Continuity of Instruction (COI) website to support this effort. It is important to note that despite this shift to remote instruction, all university offices will remain open and staffed until further notice. The work of this fine university must continue so students will receive the full advantage of the Winthrop experience!
Residence Halls and Dining Services
Understandably, the above action should decrease the number of students who are residing on campus which, in turn, will decrease the chance of COVID-19 exposure to our campus community. Students traveling home for break should stay home during the two-week remote instructional period, while international students and other populations with specific needs will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis. In general, there will limited access during this two-week period, March 23-April 3, for students to enjoy the full range of residential and dining services to which they are accustomed. But more on that will come from the Division of Student Affairs as details are determined.
Recall of Students Studying Abroad
With President Trump’s directive last night that travel into the U.S. from a large number of European countries will tighten considerably for the next month, it is prudent for us to recall from those countries. While we have been in regular contact with them and know they are enjoying their experiences, there remains too much uncertainty in international travel for us to allow them to continue their experiences. We are committed to assisting them on their return, and those wheels already are in motion. We will continue to monitor all of our students abroad and take action as appropriate.
Travel During and After Spring Break
As we have noted, we recognize that some members of the Winthrop community will be traveling over the break. Per earlier information shared, Winthrop is prohibiting university business travel through the end of April to international destinations designated by the CDC as travel warning level 3 or higher and strongly encouraging our community members to avoid non-essential domestic travel to areas where COVID-19 cases have been identified. Again, out of an abundance of caution, Winthrop’s senior leadership has decided that no new non-essential Winthrop business travel will be approved through April 30, 2020. Faculty and staff should not make new, work related travel plans during this period.
Until further notice, all university-sponsored events scheduled between Sunday, March 15 and Friday, April 3 are cancelled, and alternative options for holding or rescheduling events in key areas are being considered. Of note, we have decided that our athletics events will follow recommendations and guidance from the NCAA. Student-athletes should look to their coaches for the latest details on games and events.
Health Information and COVID-19 Case Response Planning
The Critical Incident Management Team and its sub-groups have been meeting daily to prepare for possible spread of COVID-19 to the Winthrop campus. Guidance on prevention, screening, self-quarantine and more has been communicated via email and uploaded to our COVID-19 information page. Of note most recently, Health and Counseling Services, 803/323-2206, will move to telephone triage for responding to health issues after the break, and will do the same for tele-mental health, as appropriate. This ensures the high level of service students have come to expect, while at the same time protecting our front-line health care professionals.
Thank you for your patience as we have worked on solutions that we believe to be in the best interests of students and the university. As you can imagine, there are many moving parts here, and the situation is changing rapidly. It would be helpful for you to direct your questions to the respective divisional offices, or you may reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please know that at the forefront of any institutional decisions are your health and safety.