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 are not able to be on campus during the academic year — stay on schedule for their planned graduation date, Hope’s course schedules for the fall and spring 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 have reduced occupancy in classrooms, labs and creative spaces. This puts pressure on instructional space in ways we’ve never experienced. We went through an extensive process of reassigning layouts and locations for classes, using both traditional classrooms and other flexible spaces to meet safe distancing guidelines. We also reconfigured and outfitted 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 allows us to maximize our instructional space, which in turn allows us to offer all the courses that were originally scheduled for the fall.
- Keeping students on track: We know that some students and professors are 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 '20 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. Our faculty spent the summer 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 had 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
- Classes Begin: Monday, August 17
- Spring and Summer 2021 Academic Calendar
This calendar was designed to maximize our chances of maintaining in-person operations through the end of the academic year.
In this modified schedule, spring break no longer occurs during the semester; instead those break days have been tagged onto the end of the semester, so students conclude their classes and take exams one week earlier. There will be days off throughout the term, on January 11, February 2, March 25, April 2 (Good Friday) and April 5 (Easter Monday). The goal of this modification is to reduce students’ and employees’ travel to and from campus, and curb viral spread to the Hope community and to communities outside of campus.
Tuesday, January 12: Classes begin
Tuesday, February 2: No classes
Tuesday, March 2: First half ends
Wednesday, March 3: Last half begins (using Monday class schedule)
Thursday, March 25: No classes
Friday, April 2: Good Friday — No classes
Monday, April 5: Easter Monday — No classes
Friday, April 23: Last day of classes
Monday, April 26 - Friday, April 30: Final examinations
Sunday, May 2: Commencement
May Term: May 10 - June 5
June Term: June 7 - July 2
July Term: July 5 - July 30
Fall 2021: Semester begins August 31
- Reminder About FERPA
As the college continues operations during the pandemic, 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 students are to foster academic success, independence, self-reliance, good judgment and mature relationships with others. Our best advice for parents is to talk with their student about what information they think should be shared. Even though we cannot release specific academic information about students, we are happy to respond to 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.
COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM STEERING COMMITTEE
Submit questions about Hope’s preparation for COVID-19 to email@example.com