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Winthrop University ‘strongly’ recommending masks, vaccines for coming semester

“Please know that the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty/staff, and guests remain our top priority.”
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 12:56 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Winthrop University has announced its COVID-19 requirements for the coming semester.

All students who will be on campus for class or work will need to provide a proof of negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test no more than five days prior to coming on campus.

To opt out of testing, students can bring a proof of prior positive infection within the last 90 days or a completed vaccination record that was recorded within two weeks prior to coming back.

“Please know that the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty/staff, and guests remain our top priority. Our mitigation strategy for COVID-19 is a dynamic situation, and while we had hoped to have some autonomy in making decisions that are best for our campus community, we do not have that at this time,” Interim President George Hynd wrote in a statement on the school’s website.

Auzhane Allard is no stranger to COVID-driven changes. She spent her entire sophomore year at Winthrop experiencing them.

”I could focus more academically but I was bored,” says Allard.

She feels boredom was an easy price to pay to keep from catching COVID, especially after she got back in class and had to wear a mask.

”I was fine with it like…every class I had everybody wore their masks nobody went against it or anything,” she says.

It is one of the major changes to this year’s protocols—no more mask requirement.

”I would have required it,” she says. “Because if you don’t it’s gonna be an outbreak.”

In an email Interim Winthrop President George Hynd sent to the Winthrop community he says “...while we had hoped to have some autonomy in making decisions that are best for our campus community, we do not have that at this time.”

State laws passed just this year keep the university from making certain safety decisions like mask requirements. Instead, the university will have to rely on students to make their own decisions like wearing a mask inside campus buildings and getting vaccinated. It is one thing both the interim president and Allard are confident people here are capable of doing.

“Let me say that I fully expect the Winthrop family to do the right thing and take these measures seriously.” says Hynd.

”From the beginning we just started doing that. We weren’t really just letting it fly or letting stuff get bad so. We think did stuff early on,” says Allard.

Voluntary, free testing will be available to all students, faculty and staff throughout the semester.

Three free vaccination events are scheduled throughout the semester. Anyone who has already been fully vaccinated is to upload their record into the Medicat Patient Portal.

“Our decisions are now and will continue to be informed by public health guidance, as well as federal and state laws,” wrote Hynd.

Face coverings are highly recommended by the university, but only required on university transportation.

Those who test positive for the virus will be required to isolate away from campus. Students living on campus are required to file a quarantine isolation plan.

“The best defense is a good offense, and getting vaccinated has proven the best option for not contracting and/or reducing symptoms of COVID-19. I cannot stress vaccination enough,” Hynd wrote. “Additionally, with positive cases again on the rise, we strongly encourage masking while in campus buildings. We met the COVID-19 challenge last year, and I know that together, taking responsibility for each other, we will overcome it again this fall.”

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