Joseph Kasko

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University has joined the growing list of schools across the country that have suspended in-person meetings in favor of online classes, due to concerns related to the coronavirus.

Winthrop will observe spring break next week, March 16-20, but will hold classes online for the next two weeks until April 3.

The school made the announcement via email March 12 from interim President George Hynd.

“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,” said Hynd.

Students who travel home for the break are advised to stay there during the two-week remote instructional period.

Additionally, all cultural and academic events from March 15 to April 3 will be canceled.

However, the campus will remain open and some students, including international students and “other populations with specific needs,” and faculty will be allowed to remain on campus, if they choose to do so.

As a result, there will be limited access to residence halls and dining services.

The move comes after the University of South Carolina announced March 11 that it would extend the school’s spring break by a week, by canceling classes and events until March 22.

USC will then move to virtual learning, by suspending in-person meetings, until April 3.

“This unprecedented public health challenge demands that all of us do our part for the public good. It is in this spirit that we ask each of you to rise to the occasion and remain flexible over the coming weeks,” said USC President Bob Caslen, in a press release.

The Columbia campus will also remain open to students, including residence halls and dining services, but students are being encouraged to remain home until April 3.

Clemson University and the College of Charleston have taken similar measures in response to COVID-19.

As of March 11, there have been 10 people in South Carolina, including one in Lancaster County, who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Additionally, Winthrop announced plans to recall students studying abroad and limit university travel.

“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,” said Hynd, via email.

“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.”

The university also said it is prohibiting university business travel through the end of April to international destinations designated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as travel warning level 3 or higher.

It has also encouraged community members to avoid non-essential domestic travel to areas where COVID-19 cases have been identified.

“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,” said Hynd.