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Hope College starting fall semester early to limit COVID-19 impact on campus

Incoming freshmen will begin arriving at Hope College Wednesday — a full two weeks earlier than usual.

HOLLAND, Mich — Freshmen Hope College students began moving onto campus on Wednesday for the first of several scheduled move in days. Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 17, a full two weeks earlier than usual. 

The college announced earlier this summer it would begin the fall semester early, in hopes of limiting the impact of COVID-19 on campus by rearranging scheduled breaks. 

"It's to maximize our ability to stay on campus for the entire semester and keep people together in community. Instead of spreading them out and going into different places that might not be practicing the same safeguards as we have here at Hope," said Ellen Awad, associate dean of student life. 

Traditionally, move-in would happen in a single day, but it's being spread out this year with students arriving at staggered times over the next several days to limit the number of people in each building. Freshmen will move in first, followed by returning students. Over 2,300 students will have moved onto campus by Sunday. In order to arrive on campus, every student and staff member had to take an at-home COVID-19 test. 

In addition, the college will conduct surveillance testing of a 1% sample of the student population every weekday. In coordination with the City of Holland, Hope will also be conducting wastewater testing from specific residential zones. If the virus is detected in the water, follow-up testing of residents in those zones will be conducted. 

Read about Hope College's testing processes here. 

Hope is among several colleges and universities in West Michigan welcoming students back to campus this fall. 

To make campus as safe as possible, Hope says it is reducing capacity in classrooms and residence halls, offering a mix of in-person and online class formats and requiring its roughly 3,000 students to wear face masks and practice social distancing. 

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