New students will be arriving at Hope College on Wednesday-Friday, Aug. 12-14, in anticipation of the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 17.

As announced in June, Hope is beginning and concluding the fall semester earlier than usual to help limit the impact of COVID-19 on the campus community.  The semester was originally to have run Tuesday, Sept. 1, through Friday, Dec. 18, but will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 24, prior to Thanksgiving, with the mid-semester break also revised to reduce travel during the term.

The move-in process has traditionally occupied a single day but has been spread out this year, with students’ arrival times staggered through advance scheduling to promote physical distancing.  Orientation activities, which have also been adjusted, will begin the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 12, and continue through Sunday, Aug. 16.  Most returning students are arriving on a staggered-schedule basis later in the week, although more than 400 are already on campus for roles such as assisting in New Student Orientation or serving as resident assistants.  The college anticipates an overall enrollment of about 3,000 students, including approximately 800 new students.

Hope is among the several colleges and universities in West Michigan that have announced that they are planning to have students on campus this fall, with adjustments such as physical distancing, a mix of course formats, and/or revised academic schedules.  According to a report released by the Institute of International Education in July, 87 percent of colleges and universities nationwide intend to open this fall with a hybrid model featuring in-person and remote instruction.

Among other accommodations to provide for physical distancing in shared spaces, Hope has reduced occupancy in locations including classrooms, laboratories, studios, dining facilities and select residence halls.  Corresponding adjustments include instruction via a mix of in-person, hybrid and online formats; extended dining-hall hours with an emphasis on to-go options and additional locations to pick up meals; and limiting visits to campus residences to common areas.  The college’s measures to reduce the potential for exposure to the virus also include requiring the wearing of face coverings in public spaces or when a 6-foot distance can’t be maintained, emphasis on hygiene, cleaning, and monitoring symptoms and testing.

The impact on college events and activities across the semester is being determined on a case-by-case basis.  Changes thus far include the postponement of fall athletic competition; cancelation of the Hope-Holland Community Day picnic that would have taken place on Sept. 12 as well as the fall Great Performance Series and Knickerbocker film series; and the transition of the Oct. 16-18 One Big Weekend (Homecoming and Family Weekend) to an online format.  Planning is ongoing for events such as the multiple concerts, plays and other presentations organized by academic departments, and information will be announced as available; possibilities range from musical performances and guest lectures that will be online instead of hosting in-person audiences, to theatrical productions held outside to facilitate physical distancing.

Decisions regarding the spring semester will be made later this fall based on conditions at that time.  Spring-semester classes are currently scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 11, and end on Friday, April 30, with final exams running Monday-Friday, May 3-7.

Additional and updated information about the college’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and related effects on college operations is available at