Fall 2020 - FAQ

This page was last updated Aug. 19, 2020 and is no longer being updated. If you have a question that is not answered here, you can email coronavirus@holycross.edu.


Why has Holy Cross decided to have a remote Fall 2020 semester?

As President Boroughs wrote in his August 10 email, recent developments in the trajectory of the virus, likely delays for test results, and increasingly restrictive local health and safety guidelines have made it clear that a shift to remote learning is now the only course that allows us to meet our varied responsibilities to our students, faculty, staff and local Worcester community. In addition, the restrictions and modifications that we would have to put into place to comply with the guidelines and to mitigate the spread of the virus on campus and in our local community would leave students with an extremely limited campus experience.  

Why is this decision being made now?

Our highest priorities since the beginning of this crisis have remained the health and safety of our community and the quality of the academic and student life experience. Over the past week, the changing health and safety guidelines, the significant outbreaks we have seen at schools and organizations across the country, and the warnings of possible delays in test results have made it clear that this is now the most responsible course of action for our community.

Update August 12: The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which will process our tests, has not advised of delays in test processing for college programs at the start of the year. A testing program on the scale envisioned for the fall has many components and we have been advised that there may be logistical delays during the start of the semester as a large number of colleges begin large-scale testing operations. We still plan to work with the Broad Institute to handle tests for those students who are approved to live on campus in the fall. As we said in our initial communication, our decision to move to a mostly-remote semester was based on many factors, including larger public health trends and our overarching concern for the safety of our entire community.

Which students will be able to live on campus for the Fall semester?

The College will have limited on campus housing available. We recognize that personal and family circumstances can make it more difficult for some students to succeed academically if they do not have access to campus.

Students may apply for on campus housing for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. They have limited access to technology or internet connectivity at home and may require access to campus resources in order to be successful academically
  2. They require access to campus resources, including labs or studio spaces, in order to complete specific academic work required for graduation
  3. They have concerns related to personal well-being at home
  4. They are international students who have been unable to return home
  5. They are a member of one of the winter sports teams with an approved need to train on campus prior to the winter competitive season

How can students apply to live on campus for the Fall semester?

The Exception to Live on Campus Form is available here. Students who applied were notified of the decision by August 17.

I am a Holy Cross student. Can I come onto campus to use the gym, track, or other facilities?

Right now, the College's services are fully remote. Faculty, students, and staff are not permitted on campus without prior permission. Students who have been approved to live on campus, may not return until their specific return date.

Will students living off campus in Worcester or who were planning to commute to campus have access to campus? 

Students who are planning to live off campus or who live locally who have a compelling need to access campus for academic or personal reasons can apply through this On Campus Request Form. Any student who is approved to access campus facilities or services will participate in the viral testing program.

At this time, our first responsibility is to respond to the students who are applying to reside on campus or to access campus for academic and personal reasons. We will have more information later this week about access to campus for other students who are living locally off campus.

What will the spring semester look like? Who will be invited to campus in the Spring?

We will continue to monitor the virus and public health guidance in order to make final decisions on these as the terms approach. Because we have developed the plans for a full return already, we will be able to quickly implement them when the conditions allow. 

Tuition and Financial Aid

Will the College be reducing tuition for the Fall 2020 semester?

In recognition of the financial impact of the pandemic on students and families, the College has rolled back our planned 3.25% tuition increase for the 2020-2021 academic year. We have also adjusted our financial aid packaging model by eliminating the $2,400 expected student contribution. We remain committed to meeting every student’s full demonstrated financial need and to reviewing each student’s award if their financial circumstances have changed.
In addition to these changes, we will eliminate the student activities fee for the fall semester for all students, and remove the health services fee for students who will not be accessing campus this fall. There are no additional changes planned for the 2020–21 pricing structure.

While courses will certainly be different when experienced remotely, they are still Holy Cross courses developed and taught by our faculty who are committed to teaching, who are accessible to students and will continue to provide students with personalized attention, advising and support. The courses will not be large, basically self-guided, asynchronous experiences. All of our online courses will have synchronous components to ensure that students are connected to their professors as well as to one another.

Last spring our faculty did not have much time to prepare before moving online. For the fall, all of the courses are being redesigned to fit the format of the course. The commitment of our faculty is that all courses will continue to be engaging, challenging and of the highest quality. To that end, faculty are engaging in a series of professional development workshops this summer with members of our digital teaching and learning group as well as with outside consultants on instructional design and online course development. The College has also recently installed a second learning management platform, Canvas, to support faculty in their development of online materials, and a team of experts from Canvas will be consulting with faculty as they redesign their courses.

Our faculty, class deans, and academic advisors are committed to supporting students and engaging with students "live" via Zoom for office hours, class time and advising appointments. The learning experience will not be exactly the same, but you should expect that faculty will be developing creative ways to engage with students online.

At the same time, the Holy Cross experience, whether in person or online, is more than just classes. The cocurricular opportunities being developed will allow for internships, research, civic engagement and other experiential learning for students who are remote. Online social activities, small group communities, and opportunities for spiritual development and physical wellness are also being developed by our Office of Student Involvement, Chaplain's Office and a working group of professionals from all disciplines across campus. There will be extensive opportunities for students' growth and development of mind, body and spirit, as well as opportunities for meeting and building lasting relationships with peers.

How will my financial aid be impacted by this change?

All financial aid packages will be recalculated based on the revised cost of attendance. New bills will be issued by August 19, and payment will be due by August 28.

I have work study as part of my financial aid package? What will happen with that?

Work study will not be awarded as part of financial aid packages for the fall semester. The revised financial aid packages will be structured to meet students’ need without a work study award.

If I have already paid my bill, will I get a refund for my room and board?

Financial aid packages will be recalculated and new bills without any room and board charges will be issued by August 19. Payment will be due by August 28.  If you have a positive balance on your bill based on your prior payment, that money will be available as a credit for next semester or as a refund.

I just paid for an off campus apartment. Are you covering my costs?

No. Students who have entered into leases with local landlords are responsible for working with the landlords to fulfill the terms of their leases.

Will there be opportunities for student employment for the fall semester?

There will be limited opportunities for student employment for the fall semester. We are working on understanding implications of students outside of Massachusetts working for the College.

Will bills still be due on August 17?

No. We will be reissuing new bills on August 19, and payment will be due by August 28.

Will the college reimburse travel or housing expenses for students who were planning on traveling to Holy Cross in August?

Unfortunately, the College is not able to reimburse these expenses. 

Academics and Enrollment

Will there be any changes to the academic calendar?

No, there will be no change to the Fall 2020 academic calendar.  The academic calendar for Spring 2021 will be set in September.

Will there be changes to student course schedules/registration?

No. Course schedules will remain the same, and there will be no need to register again for classes.

I am concerned about taking four online courses, can I take fewer?

The normal course load for a student is four courses per semester. Some students have expressed concern about completing four online courses. If this is a concern for you, we encourage you to contact your faculty advisor or your class dean.

If you choose to enroll in only three courses this semester you will still be a full-time student for the purposes of billing and financial aid. The College is committed to finding ways for you to complete a full course load this year. A limited number of courses will be offered during a new January term.  We expect to offer a greater array of courses in Summer 2021. If you choose to enroll in only three courses this fall, the College will allow you to enroll in one January term or one summer session course at Holy Cross with no additional tuition charge. While there may be some in person classes offered during the January and summer sessions, most will be offered online. If you are able to enroll in an in-person summer school or January term course, you will be responsible for any room and board charges for the session.

Please note that if you are scheduled to graduate in May 2021, a summer session course can not be used to fulfill a graduation requirement. Please ensure that you will complete all graduation requirements before Summer 2021.

Can I take a leave of absence or defer admission for a year?

If you are considering taking time off this year, we encourage you to consult your class dean or faculty advisor.

If you are a returning student, you can request a leave of absence by contacting your class dean. Please note that if you are on a leave of absence, you cannot enroll full-time at another institution. You can take courses to fulfill deficiencies or meet requirements (if approved by the class dean) but you cannot advance your standing. Your expected graduation date will be postponed by the number of semesters of leave. To request a leave of absence, please review the College’s Voluntary Leave of Absence Policy and send your request to your class dean. 

Students who request a leave of absence by August 31 will be dropped from courses without record.  The semester does not count as a full-time semester in residence. For further questions, please contact your class dean.

If you are a student in the Class of 2024, you can request a deferral of your admission to Fall 2021.  If you would like to do so, please contact Ann McDermott, Director of Admissions, at amcdermo@holycross.edu to request a Deferral Request Form. Your form must be submitted by Monday, August 17.  If you defer your admission, you can take up to two courses while you are away, but you cannot apply to other institutions for admission as a full-time student.

How do I get my books?

You can find a listing of the books required for each of your classes at the Virtual Holy Cross Bookstore.  If you choose to order your books from this site, the books will be shipped to you.

What will health professions advising at Holy Cross look like during this online semester?

For this and more specific questions about health professions advising, including questions about labs and leaves of absence, see here.

Health and Safety

Will students be required to self-quarantine when they arrive on campus?

Any student living on campus who will be arriving from outside of the seven specific lower-risk states will be required to adhere to the Massachusetts travel order. We expect that all students impacted will follow the arrival plan that they have already confirmed with the College. Those students who planned to be tested on campus and quarantine on campus or in a hotel with their families should still plan to arrive on August 23. They will quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

What is the health and safety plan for those students who will live on campus or have access to campus?

The health and safety plan has not changed with the shift to remote learning. All students who will live on campus or have access to campus will be required to adhere to the Colleges health and safety plan, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. All students who choose to return to campus this fall, whether they live on or off campus, will be screened and tested for COVID-19. In addition to universal testing upon arrival, tests will be administered to all students on a regular basis, as directed by medical consultants.
  2. All students are required to wear face coverings that completely cover mouth and nose at all times when on and off campus, in both indoor and outdoor spaces. The only times face coverings are not required are when students are (1) in their bedroom/suite/apartment with only their suite/apartment mates, (2) eating with adequate physical distancing, or (3) undertaking personal grooming.
  3. Students are required to maintain six feet of distance.
  4. Students will be required to adhere to regulated space occupancy limits, which will be posted in every space on campus. During gatherings, face coverings and physical distancing must be followed.

On-campus Students

What facilities are available to those living on campus?

Most facilities on campus will be open for those students who are approved to live on campus. However, spaces and their operations will be modified to meet health and safety guidelines. For example, Kimball Dining Hall will not be open for sit-down meals and will offer grab and go meals only. Workout facilities will be modified to meet distancing guidelines. More detailed information about facilities will be provided shortly to those students who are approved to access them.

What will happen with the room selection process?

We will be reassigning rooms in order for most students to be placed in single bedrooms and minimize sharing of bathrooms.


What College services and support will be available virtually?

All offices on campus have been working this summer to develop remote engagement opportunities for students for the fall semester. The Office of Student Involvement, the Chaplains Office, the Office of Multicultural Education, the J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World, the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, and many others are planning for virtual events and experiences.

We will continue to provide support services virtually for our students, including the Writers’ Workshop, Academic Services and Learning Resources, tutoring and mentoring programs.

In addition, our Center for Career Development has been cultivating remote internship opportunities and offering remote counseling, networking and career planning workshops over the summer. These will continue throughout the fall semester. Our alumni community has been extremely generous with their time in mentoring and creating opportunities for our students during this pandemic.

Will there be opportunities for experiential learning, internships and other programming outside of classes?

The Holy Cross experience, whether in person or online, encompasses more than the classroom experience. For students studying remotely, and living away from campus, there will still be opportunities for remote internships, research, and other community-based learning and civic engagement opportunities.  In addition, online social activities, small group communities, and opportunities for spiritual development and physical wellness are being developed by our Office of Student Involvement, Chaplain's Office and a working group of professionals from all disciplines across campus. You will be able to participate in activities and programs that interest you, and through these you will also have the opportunity to meet and build lasting relationships with other students.

I would like to study from home, but don’t have good internet access. What can I do?

Students who prefer to stay home but need help meeting technology needs should complete this Technology Support Form. The College will make every effort to assist students with the technology required for remote learning and engagement. The form is due no later than Wednesday, August 19.

I will be living in or around Worcester, can I access campus during the semester?

We may be able to allow a limited number of other students limited access to campus for other academic or personal reasons. Students who are planning to live off campus or live locally and have a compelling need to access campus for academic or personal reasons can apply through this Request for Access to Campus Form. Any student who is approved to access campus facilities or services will be required to participate in the COVID-19 testing program. This form is due Monday, August 17.

Faculty and Staff

Do we expect additional furloughs for staff?

We do not know at this time. The work of the College will continue for the fall semester, and campus will be open for those students and employees approved to access it. We will have a better understanding of our resource needs and the financial forecast for the fall semester in the next few weeks.

How can faculty and staff access campus buildings?

Faculty and staff who are able to work from home are still required to do so. Employees who have a need to work on campus and have received approval from their Vice President should email accesstocampus@holycross.edu for next steps. All employees who are approved to work on campus must comply with state Safety Standards, which will be communicated through a campus training and attestation module. More information can be found on the Faculty and Staff section of the COVID-19 Response and Reopening website.