Hope College to start fall semester early

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Hope College will begin its fall 2020 semester Aug. 17. Photo by iStock

Hope College will begin its 2020 fall classes Aug. 17, two weeks earlier than expected.

As a result, the fall semester will end Nov. 24 as opposed to Dec. 18. To implement the changes, Hope College will eliminate its four-day fall recess and its four-day Thanksgiving recess.

“These changes aim to limit movement to and from campus, helping mitigate the risk of a resurgence of COVID-19,” said Matthew A. Scogin, president of Hope College. “Our framework was developed after many hours of information gathering and analysis, discussion amongst the COVID-19 Steering Committee, consultation with other colleges and input from local health officials.

“As we know from the spring semester, a second wave of COVID-19 could prompt a shift to remote learning. We would pursue this shift only if federal or state restrictions or local health conditions required us to do so.”

Hope College still is revising its schedules and operations for the fall semester, but, the majority of classes will be in-person and others will be online or a hybrid blend.

“Given the need for physical distancing in shared spaces, we will be reducing occupancy in classrooms, labs and creative spaces,” Scogin said. “This puts pressure on instructional space in ways we’ve never experienced. The combination of in-person, online and hybrid formats will allow us to maximize our instructional space and continue offering all the courses that were originally scheduled for the fall.”

Among other adjustments in the works:

  • The college will emphasize physical distancing, the wearing of face coverings in public spaces or when a 6-foot distance can’t be maintained, hygiene, cleaning and monitoring of symptoms.
  • Hope’s orientation for new students will be modified, and the move-in process for students living on campus will be staggered to reduce the number of people who are together during that time.
  • Regarding on-campus living, there will be guidelines for shared spaces such as bathrooms and common areas in residence halls.
  • Dining-services options will include on-site dining, as well as to-go dining with a possibility for online ordering. The college is working with local health officials to understand additional needs for dining areas and, in its planning, is following all Michigan restaurant requirements and all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Hope College has not yet determined whether there will be any changes to the spring semester. It is currently scheduled to begin Jan. 11 and end April 30 with final exams running May 3-7.

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