/ Campus Health

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Hope College is closely monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 and assessing the potential impact on the campus community and college operations.

Updated June 29, 2020

Dear Hope Students, Families, Staff and Faculty,

It has been 99 days since we last held an in-person class at Hope College, and we could not be more eager to have you back on campus!

For the past two months, we have been working around the clock to develop a framework for re-opening campus to provide a safe, in-person living and learning experience. Today we are excited to share what we believe is an innovative approach to the 2020–2021 academic year, which maximizes the student experience and campus health. 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.

The most significant change relates to the academic calendar. We will start classes earlier than originally planned in order to complete the fall semester prior to Thanksgiving. The first day of classes will take place on Monday, August 17, and the semester will end on Tuesday, November 24. Fall break also will be changed. Rather than two consecutive days in October, the break will be staggered as two individual, mid-week days off. These changes aim to limit movement to and from campus, helping mitigate the risk of a resurgence of COVID-19.

Additional details on our fall framework are below. You undoubtedly will have many questions, and we do not have all the answers yet. We will, of course, share more over the coming weeks, and in the meantime, I ask for your continued patience and grace.

Staying healthy this fall will involve some sacrifices from all of us. But these adjustments are made in order to provide our students with the maximized opportunity for in-person learning.

I am proud of how we came together this past spring. And as we look to the future, I am confident that we will once again show each other — and the world — what makes Hope College so special. Because in this time of uncertainty, the one thing that is certain is HOPE.

Spera in Deo!

President Matthew A. Scogin

Additional Information

Academic Calendar

The first day of classes will take place on Monday, August 17, and the semester will end on Tuesday, November 24. Rather than two consecutive days in October, Fall Break will be staggered as two individual, mid-week days off.

  • Classes Begin: Monday, August 17
    *Monday, September 14, follows a Wednesday schedule
  • Mid-Semester Break: Wednesday, September 16
  • Last Day of Classes: Monday, November 16
  • Study Break: Tuesday, November 17
  • Semester Exams: Wednesday, November 18–Tuesday, November 24

With this adjusted calendar, we will be updating our plans for pre-semester activities. We will keep you posted on details regarding First-Year Orientation and pre-orientation programs such as Summer Bridge, Step2Success and Day1, and courses that have pre-academic-year components.

At this point, it is too early to make changes to the Spring 2021 semester calendar. Per the current schedule, classes will begin on January 11 and end on April 30, with exams May 3–7. If public health concerns prompt us to begin reconsidering dates for the spring semester, we will let you know as soon as possible.


One of our guiding principles has been that we will leave no student behind. In order to make sure that all our students — including those who will not be able to be on campus in the fall — stay on schedule for their planned graduation date, Hope’s course schedule for the fall semester will include in-person classes and online classes. Some courses, in order to accommodate distancing requirements, may be hybrid, which will feature a blend of in-person and online components done from campus. The majority of classes will be in-person. We are working to finalize the format for each class, and that information should be available to students by mid-July. This combination of course formats will allow students to continue making progress toward graduation and continue living and learning on campus.

Two major considerations in our academic planning are:

  • Adapting instructional spaces: Given the need for physical distancing in shared spaces, we will be reducing occupancy in classrooms, labs and creative spaces. This puts pressure on instructional space in ways we’ve never experienced. Currently, we are in the process of reassigning layouts and locations for classes, using both traditional classrooms and other flexible spaces to meet safe distancing guidelines. We also are reconfiguring and outfitting some instructional spaces with additional equipment, such as plexiglass, and technology, such as cameras and microphones. The combination of in-person, online and hybrid formats will allow us to maximize our instructional space, which in turn will allow us to offer all the courses that were originally scheduled for the fall.
  • Keeping students on track: We anticipate that some students and professors will be unable to return to campus, due to underlying health conditions, travel restrictions in their country, or other personal circumstances. It is also possible that some students or professors may need to be quarantined or isolated if they test positive for COVID-19 or they have been exposed to the virus. The different class formats will allow professors who cannot be on campus to continue teaching and students who cannot be on campus to continue taking classes. In some cases, due to program requirements, students who are attending remotely may still need to take classes that are being offered in-person; we are identifying technology options to accommodate those students, wherever possible.

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. Right now, our faculty are strengthening their skills in online teaching. As opposed to the spring semester, when we had a matter of days to shift and prepare, our faculty now have an entire summer to build excellent online class experiences for their students, should they need to make the shift at any point.

First-Year Students

We were thrilled to talk to nearly 400 first-year students and their families on Tuesday evening at a virtual “Welcoming You to Hope” event. It was great to see you all! Here a few additional notes for first-year students:

Information on work-awarded aid: Over the next few days, Human Resources will be sending an email to all first-year students who have work-awarded aid as part of their financial aid package. This email will provide an explanation of work-awarded positions and details on how to sign up for them. Watch your inbox for a message coming soon!

New Student Orientation: As a reminder, you can find information about Orientation at hope.edu/orientation — and don’t forget to follow Orientation on Instagram @hopeorientation.

  • For families: This year’s family orientation will be virtual and will include something every Tuesday, from July 7 to August 4. We’re excited to be able to connect with families regularly and help them prepare for the year ahead.
  • For students: For new students, the first in-person event to kick off our on-campus orientation program will take place the evening of Friday, August 14. We look forward to celebrating with you.

If you have questions about Orientation or any other aspect of the transition into your first year at Hope, please email firstyear@hope.edu.

Commitment to a Healthy Community

Students, staff and faculty all play an important role in building and sustaining a culture of accountability and personal responsibility at Hope. Certain safeguards work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and every person on campus will be asked to fully participate in our mitigation strategy so that we have the best chance of remaining in-person, on campus for as long as possible.

As we get closer to the beginning of the academic year, we will be issuing more detailed guidelines about our shared commitment to living and learning on campus, including our specific responsibilities to one another and to our community. Until then, we are developing a framework with the following assumptions:

  • Distancing: We will do our best to physically distance from one another whenever possible. We understand that there are some situations where we may not be able to maintain a 6-foot distance, and in these situations, the use of face coverings is especially critical.
  • Face coverings: We will wear face coverings in public spaces, classrooms and common areas, as well as any close-quarters situation where we cannot maintain a 6-foot distance. Face masks will be provided to the campus community, and face shields will be available and used where appropriate. (See additional information in "On Campus? Wear a Face Covering" below.)
  • Hygiene: We will wash our hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Cleaning: We will play an active role in keeping our areas clean. This may entail wiping down surfaces before and after use, as well as keeping clothing, belongings, personal spaces and shared spaces clean.
  • Monitoring symptoms: We will screen ourselves for the symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis, and if symptoms are present, will: 1) stay home from classes and work, and 2) report to a medical professional or the Health Center.
On Campus? Wear a Face Covering

Help us build a healthy community based on personal responsibility. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says: Your face covering may protect them. Their face covering may protect you. In the article “How much protection do face masks offer?,” the Mayo Clinic explains the importance of face coverings. For more information, check out the CDC’s online resource, Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19, which includes details about making, wearing and washing face coverings.

Confused about whether or not you should be wearing a face covering? Let’s clear up the confusion! All students, employees and visitors must wear a covering over their nose and mouth at all times while on campus unless they are: 1) in their private living space; or 2) the sole occupant of an enclosed office; or 3) outdoors and continually more than 6 feet from every other person.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Face coverings play a critical role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. We all help build a healthy campus by wearing face coverings and encouraging others to do the same.

  • If you see somebody on campus without a face covering or if somebody enters your space without wearing a face covering, please ask that person to put one on. It may feel awkward, but in doing so, you are increasing our chances of remaining healthy and in-person through the entire fall semester.

  • If you are on campus and need a face covering, please contact our Physical Plant team. They have extra masks on hand and would be delighted to provide you with one. If you are planning your fall semester and anticipate needing a special kind of face covering, please get in touch with Kara Slater, director of operations, ASAP; we can’t guarantee Kara will be able to find or order the kind you need, but she will try her hardest and keep you informed.
Housing and Dining

In the current environment, student participation in residential, dining, social and recreational activities will look different. While we are still working on the details — and will be throughout the summer — we can offer a preview of housing and dining in the fall:

  • Housing cohorts: One important aspect of residential life will be Hope housing cohorts, small groups of students united as a community by their housing location, such as a cottage, residential hall floor/cluster or apartment. These cohorts will serve as a point of connection and engagement for residents. Together, cohort members will create and honor expectations for living in their shared space, with the goal of ensuring a sense of both security and comfort in their home. We will continue to provide details about how housing cohorts will operate. We also are working on guidelines for shared areas in residence halls, such as bathrooms and lounges.
  • Isolation/Quarantine housing: We are working to designate and prepare the spaces on campus that will serve as housing for students that are in isolation or in quarantine due to a potential or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. In these situations, we would make accommodations so that students could continue to progress in their coursework.
  • Move-in: We are planning a staggered, phased move-in for students living on campus. This means that the move-in schedule will take place over a longer period of time than usual. Watch your email for more details regarding move-in plans.
  • Dining: At Hope, we value the tradition of eating with our community, and we are working to keep that tradition available and safe for all. As our Dining Services team develops our on-campus dining plan for the fall semester, we are following all Michigan restaurant requirements and all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. We also are working with local health officials to understand additional needs for dining areas. Options will include on-site dining, with specific protocols for distancing and cleaning, as well as to-go dining. Currently, we are exploring possibilities for online ordering. As always, Dining Services will continue to offer high standards for health, variety and convenience.

Testing is just one component of an overall strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We take seriously our responsibility to test any student who is symptomatic, and we urge students to take seriously their responsibility to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms. If students experience any symptoms, they should contact the Health Center immediately — and never wait for the symptoms to get worse. We will have formal processes in place for this kind of diagnostic testing, and will share more about those processes as we finalize details.

“Baseline testing” is a form of screening that involves testing individuals who are not symptomatic, in order to find unrecognized cases of disease. Asymptomatic baseline testing alone does not serve as a preventative measure, as it captures only a moment in time. And, because false positives and false negatives continue to be a challenge, asymptomatic testing must be managed carefully. We are still finalizing our approach to asymptomatic testing, and will be sharing those details soon as well.

Pass/Fail Option

A recently approved temporary adaptation of Hope’s Pass/Fail Option Policy will allow all students to request pass-fail (P/F) options for any or all full-semester and last-half semester Spring 2020 courses; there will be no changes to courses that were taken in the first-half of the semester, which ended on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

For many students, taking letter grades off the table reduced pressure and allowed them to focus on their learning. For some, earning reported letter grades was important or even necessary based on specific circumstances, including academic programs that have highly sequenced, grade-dependent prerequisites or were externally accredited programs where external requirements may not allow P/F courses in the major. The hope was that this adaptation provided the balance everyone needed while also alleviating at least some of the anxiety everyone was feeling during this challenging semester.

Registrar Carol De Jong has shared more details about the P/F option so that students and families fully understand the implications of choosing P/F vs. lettered grades. Visit the Spring 2020 Pass/Fail page for more information. The deadline for application for a P/F option is Friday, July 31, 2020, at 5 p.m.

Summer Research

The associate provost for academic affairs has released guidelines regarding on-campus, student-faculty collaborative research in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer Camps and Conferences

No matter the nature of the program or the age of participants, all events on campus will follow specific guidelines and protocols for the health and safety of all involved (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, hygiene practices, and regular cleaning of surfaces and shared spaces). Please refer to the Summer Camps and Conferences website for additional information


Our team made a valiant attempt to plan a commencement ceremony in August, but in the end we determined it was not going to be the proper celebration our students have earned and deserve. For this reason, we have decided to further postpone in-person commencement for the Class of 2020 to May 2021. For the full message from President Scogin to recent graduates and their families, please visit the Commencement website.

COVID-19 Resources

Check these resources for up-to-date information:

Stay connected

Thank you for staying connected with us. Please continue sending your questions to campushealth@hope.edu!
— COVID-19 Response Team Steering Committee Members: Jennifer Fellinger, Kristyn Bochniak, Lindsey Engelsman, Jeff Pestun, Dr. Cady Short-Thompson