One of our guiding principles is 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 includes in-person, hybrid and online classes. Hybrid courses feature a blend of in-person and online components done from campus. The majority of classes being offered are in-person. No matter what format your classes take — in-person, online or hybrid — you’ll be part of a community that cares for you. As always, you’ll engage with your coursework, your professors and your classmates within the context of Hope’s residential, liberal arts experience.
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.
- Online Classes
What can I expect from my online classes?
We believe that an online course at Hope College is distinctly different from online courses elsewhere. That’s especially the case for the fall semester, when most students will be taking online classes while still living in community with one another on Hope’s campus. Our online courses will offer the advantages of the full Hope experience. Professors will be readily available to consult and advise students, often face-to-face, always with safeguards. Students will be able to study together, go to help sessions and receive the same type of support they receive in a typical semester. In some cases, online courses will be complemented with face-to-face lab components.
Hope’s commitment to online learning is a longstanding tradition. Hope offered its first summer online course in 1999 and by 2006 was offering online classes regularly in the summer. Our history includes more than 70 unique courses taught by 65 faculty from more than 20 departments to more than 4,000 students! On average, nearly 350 students per year have opted to take online courses at Hope. From the time Hope first began offering these classes, we have held to a commitment: Our online courses will feature the same content, same rigor and same enrollment caps as their in-person equivalent, and will be taught by the same professor who normally teaches them in the classroom. Hope’s online classes were never designed to save money or increase the student-faculty ratio, but rather to give students more options to complete their degrees on time. The pandemic has not lessened our existing commitments; we are honoring these same principles during the fall semester.
What if I’m nervous about the online components of classes?
In the spring, students and faculty had a matter of days to make the leap from in-person, on-campus classes to online, at-home classes. That was a lot of change in a short period of time! For the fall semester, however, our faculty have had all summer to prepare. Over the summer months, faculty have invested their time in training opportunities to strengthen their online teaching. If you know your Hope professors, you won’t be surprised to know they are driven by a genuine commitment to improve the student experience, whether their classes are online, in-person or hybrid.
If you are feeling nervous about an aspect of your fall classes, share your specific concerns with your professors at the beginning of the semester. And remember, you have many resources available to you, including the Academic Success Center, the David J. Klooster Center for Excellence in Writing, and Van Wylen Library, to name just a few. The Registrar and Academic Advising offices are always available to answer your questions and help you identify needed resources. And if you need to talk to somebody about your mental health and well-being, our Counseling and Psychological Services team will be standing ready to assist!
- Fall 2020 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.
- Classes Begin: Monday, August 17
- Summer Classes Are Online
All of Hope’s May, June and July classes are remote. We are offering far more options than ever before, and students are still rigorously learning in small classes with the same Hope College professors they love. Students will continue to have the flexibility and convenience of remote learning, which we understand is especially important during the summer months.
- Pass-Fail Requests
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.
- Registrar's Office Offering Virtual Services
The Registrar’s Office is now offering all of its services online. The office will remain open and staff will be available, but they have shifted their focus to virtual operations, including:
- Processing transcript requests, major/minor declarations, substitutions/waivers, grade changes, overrides for class registration, enrollment verifications and Michigan Guest Applications
- Fall 2020 class registration
- Pass/fail requests (Note: The pass/fail deadline for full semester and last-half courses has been extended to July 31, 2020.)
You can find forms and more details about the online processes on the Registrar’s Office website.
- Reminder About FERPA
As the college continues its shift to remote instruction, we’ve received requests from parents for specific information about their student’s schedule, grades or overall academic progress.
As required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), when a student goes to college, the right to see such information transfers from family members to the student. Our goals for your student are the same as yours: to foster academic success, independence, self-reliance, good judgment and mature relationships with others. Our best advice is to talk with your student about what information you think should be shared. Even though we cannot release specific academic information about students, we are happy to respond to your questions about campus policies and any concerns you may have about your student so we can follow up appropriately.
For more information about Hope College policies and practices supporting FERPA, please see the Hope’s FERPA website.
- Off-Campus Study
The decision has been made to cancel all participation in study abroad programming this fall semester. As you can imagine, this decision was not made lightly. It came after weeks of hard work and careful consideration by the Risk and Responsibility team and the Center for Global Engagement team, who have been monitoring the continued spread and impact of COVID-19 around the world. Prioritizing the health and safety of our students, the teams took into account:
- Travel and health alerts: Hope has a longstanding policy of prohibiting college-sponsored travel to countries assigned Level 3 or 4 travel warnings by the U.S. Department of State. To date, the Department of State and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) have maintained their highest travel and health alerts for global travel, which we do not foresee being lowered in the coming months.
- Program suspensions: In the last few weeks, numerous program providers have informed us that they are suspending their fall programming. Last week alone, 10 Hope students were notified that their program had been suspended and they had to defer their plans to study abroad to the spring 2021 or the following fall.
- Hope’s timing: By suspending all participation in fall study abroad programming now, students who were planning to study abroad still have six weeks to secure their fall housing and confirm their Hope classes.
- In-country travel restrictions: Many program providers have adjusted their programs by announcing additional travel restrictions. We realize that our study abroad students often travel to neighboring countries, thereby encountering further risks and potentially exposing the host community to which they are returning.
- Impact on host community: We have been sensitive to the question of what risk students may pose to the local community where they would be living and studying, especially given the fact that the United States currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. While many communities have sufficient resources and capacity to care for sick individuals, we recognize that some of our students may put an additional strain on resources in areas with restricted access to health care.
Domestic Off-Campus Programs
The Risk and Responsibility team anticipates making a decision about domestic off-campus programs in mid-July.
COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM STEERING COMMITTEE
Submit questions about Hope’s preparation for COVID-19 to firstname.lastname@example.org