About HCC

Student FAQs

Below you'll find answers to our most frequently asked questions. Didn't find an answer to your question? Email us at coronavirus@hcc.edu.

remote resources

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus and has been declared a global pandemic, infecting people in China, Iran, Italy, Europe, and other countries, including the United States. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation being closely monitored by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), WHO (World Health Organization) and other public health agencies, and it is important for everyone to take precautions against the transmission of COVID-19.


The CDC states that at this time, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The three main symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
CDC resources

The CDC has established a coronavirus website that includes a wealth of information about transmission, symptoms, prevention and treatment of the virus, as well as situation updates:

What if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you are sick and a healthcare provider tests you for COVID-19, or you are told by a healthcare provider that you have COVID-19, you must remain in isolation until a public health authority (the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, your local Board of Health, or the Community Tracing Collaborative)* says that you can leave your home.

Let us know! If you are enrolled in a program that includes face-to-face instruction, please contact your professors to inform them, and they will make accommodations for you.

If you need to withdraw from one or more classes, you may be considered for a waiver of the tuition and fees you paid this semester to be applied to the same course(s) in a future semester. To be considered for this waiver, please complete the Administrative Action appeal form.

*How to verify if MA COVID Team or your local health department is calling

Calls from the MA COVID Team will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will say the call is from "MA COVID Team." Calls will be made daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Your local health department will use their local phone numbers to contact you.https://www.mass.gov/guidance/information-and-guidance-for-persons-in-isolation-due-to-covid-19

What if someone I know tests positive for COVID-19?

You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
What if I've been exposed as described above?

If you were in close contact with an individual with COVID-19, you should quarantine at home for 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the person with COVID-19. You should monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath. Additional information is available on the CDC website.

This includes exposure to:
  • Person with COVID-19 who has symptoms (in the period from 2 days before symptom onset until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation; can be laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness)
  • Person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (laboratory confirmed) but has not had any symptoms (in the 2 days before the date of specimen collection until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation).

Note: This is irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask or whether the contact was wearing respiratory personal protective equipment (PPE) 

You must quarantine if you are not sick but are a close contact to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you've been traveling outside Massachusetts. You may be contacted by a local health official or the Commonwealth's Community Tracing Collaborative regarding any contact with those who have COVID-19.Please take these steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19 while you quarantine:

  • Stay at home and use a separate bedroom and bathroom if possible.
  • Do your best to stay at least 6 feet away from other people in the house.
  • Do not leave your house to go to school, work or run errands.
  • Do not have any visitors to your house during this time.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not share eating or drinking utensils with anybody.
  • Monitor your health every day.
  • If you get sick with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other signs of respiratory illness, call your healthcare provider and schedule a COVID-19 test. Be sure to tell them you have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • If you need to seek routine medical care call ahead to your doctor and tell them you are under COVID-19 quarantine.
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares to get to your appointment.

Staying at least six feet away from other people and avoiding crowded spaces are examples of social distancing. Staying home and not having visitors are examples of self-quarantining. Please take a moment to read Johns Hopkins excellent definitions and recommendations.

Please refer to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' travel advisory prior to making travel plans. Additionally, we encourage all members of our community to consult and follow the CDC's guidelines for travel.

To ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, and community, HCC is primarily teaching, learning, and operating remotely, with the exception of some Health Sciences and Culinary Arts courses, which have been approved to conduct limited face-to-face instruction as necessary to meet program requirements. However, this does not mean that HCC is now an online college, and we look forward to being back on campus when vaccines are more widely available.

What is remote learning?

Remote teaching and learning utilizes a combination of tools like Zoom and WebEx video for class in "real time" while also having materials and assignments readily available digitally for students to complete on their own and post to Moodle. Faculty teaching remotely will still provide materials to students outside of these virtual spaces, for example via a PDF or Word document.

Online teaching and learning uses instructional methods that are carefully designed for that environment, which is why it's important to be clear about the distinctions between the two and where HCC is moving in response to this unprecedented time. We are not redesigning courses to be an "online college." We are providing the flexibility necessary to enable our students to successfully complete the semester. HCC's transition to remote teaching and learning allows faculty and students used to in-person environments to modify their course experience in order to be effective at a distance.

What resources are available?

We know that not all students have reliable internet access or the computers they need at home. The HCC Library has Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots that students can borrow, and again, faculty are making every effort to provide alternatives for students who don't have access to technology at home.

CAPS tutoring is available via Zoom/video, chat, email and phone to assist students, as are offices including advising, career, financial aid, student engagement, student records, Thrive and others. To connect with them, simply visit their web pages or use the links on this How to Connect page. 

The Library has WiFi hotspots and Google Chromebooks available for borrowing. Simply click here for information on how to request a device, and we will send it directly to you without you needing to come to campus.

In addition, both Comcast and Charter Spectrum are offering 60 days of free access to broadband wi-fi and low cost computers for qualifying households. Information can be found below:

Charter free internet access 

Comcast free internet access

Comcast low-cost resources

Though we are moving to a remote business environment, some work-study students may be able to continue working. Students should consult with their supervisor to see if it is possible for their position. If a work-study student's current job duties are changing as a result of the college's new remote work, the supervisor should document the changes and send them to the financial aid office.

HCC's Thrive Student Resource Center will provide access to grab and go meals and groceries, and can assist you with securing SNAP and access to other resources. Hours are posted at hcc.edu/thrive, and staff can be reached at thrive@hcc.edu or by leaving a message at 413.552.2783.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered utility companies to not shut off gas, electric or water for people who fail to pay their bills.

The order will last until the governor's state of emergency is lifted or the state Department of Public Utilities determines otherwise. Details are in this press release from the Governor's office. 

At this time, it's especially important to find ways to reduce anxiety and care for yourself. Try to find a balance between staying informed and limiting media consumption, and stick to reliable sources of information, such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok have seen a number of false and misleading posts about COVID-19. While they are taking steps to limit or label misinformation, it's nearly impossible to catch them all. The World Health Organization has put together a Myth Busters page to counter this and other misinformation.

Please also take advantage of the resources HCC provides to our students and their families. Our free WellConnect Student Assistance Program offers 24/7 phone and in-person mental health counseling, as well as health and wellness coaching, legal consultation and a variety of other services. You can find comprehensive information about their services, and directions on accessing WellConnect content online, at hcc.edu/wellconnect. They can also be reached at 866.640.4777 (voice/TTY). If you'd like to speak to someone at HCC, reach out to the office of Student Affairs at 413.552.2231.

You can also take advantage of the Disaster Distress Helpline, at 1.800.985.5990. This is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.

Finally, if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255). You'll also find helpful information on their Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak webpage.

Review the CDC's excellent guidance on how to keep yourself and your family safe. 

You're not alone! Moving to remote learning is a challenge, but there is help – and other options – available. We encourage you to reach out and share your concerns with your instructor.

In addition to your instructor, all of our traditional learning resources are still available in a virtual format. You can still contact HCC offices (CAPS, Writing Center, Math Center, financial aid, STRIVE, etc.) by phone or email, and many offices are using Google Chat or Zoom. Click here for information about how to connect with HCC.

Contact our friendly team of tech-savvy students! HCC's Multi-Environment Resource Consultants (MERC) is a group of students ready to help you with all your technology related questions. Click here to contact MERC or email merc@hcc.edu.

And of course, you always have access to the HCC Help Desk, at 413.552.2075 or helpdesk@hcc.edu.

First: We're so sorry to hear that. If you have lost your job due to a COVID-19 related layoff or furlough, you can request a deferral of your account balance, an extension on your payment plan, or emergency aid. To do this, email studentaccounts@hcc.edu.

We understand how difficult and stressful this semester has been – but please speak with your professor, your advisor, and HCC support services before making the decision to withdraw from classes. Don't forget, we've extended the date to withdraw to give our students time to adjust: You have until May 13, 2020 to make this decision.

If, after consultation with your professor, advisor, and support services, you determine that withdrawing from classes is your only option, complete this withdrawal form.

When you withdraw from a course, a grade of "W" is issued on your transcript. This "W" grade does not impact your grade point average.

If the course is a requirement for your degree or certificate program, you will need to retake the course in a future semester.

If you withdraw from all of your classes for COVID-19 reasons, there may be no adjustment to your financial aid.

The recently passed CARES Act allows schools to waive the requirement to return the "unearned" portion of a student's financial aid when the student withdraws from school due to COVID-19.

For more information, contact HCC's financial aid office at financialaid@hcc.edu or at 413.552.2150.

To continue to be eligible to receive financial aid you must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards, including successfully completing at least two-thirds of your cumulative attempted credit hours.

If you lose your financial aid for falling below the SAP standards, your financial aid can be reinstated based on an approved appeal. With proper documentation, conditions related to COVID-19 may be considered extenuating circumstances for your SAP appeal.

For more information, contact HCC's financial aid office at financialaid@hcc.edu or at 413.552.2150.

If you withdrew from one or more classes due to COVID-19 related issues, you may be considered for a waiver of the tuition and fees you paid this semester to be applied to the same course(s) in a future semester. The following circumstances may qualify you for this waiver:

  • You have tested positive for the virus or have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have been in self-isolation, quarantined, hospitalized, fallen ill, or are caring for a family member in a similar situation
  • You are caring for dependent children who are at home because of school closure and/or childcare closures
  • You have been deployed into the National Guard to support the COVID-19 crisis
  • You do not have access to the necessary technology to complete courses online/remotely

To be considered for this waiver, please complete the Administrative Action appeal form.

Do you have questions about the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading option? Explore the following FAQs. 

Is HCC Offering a Pass/Fail Grading Option for Spring 2020?

In recognition of the new challenges our students are facing, HCC has changed our existing Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option for the Spring 2020 semester. This is equivalent to a Pass/Fail grading option. If you're interested in S/U, please talk with your academic advisor to make sure this decision won't disrupt your educational goals. Applications for S/U may be submitted using this form, and must be received by the last day of classes, May 13, 2020, by 4:30 p.m.

HCC can't guarantee how other institutions will view a “satisfactory” grade, or whether they will accept it for transfer. We continue to work closely with our four-year partner institutions to help you transfer successfully. Your professor will still submit an earned letter grade for your class, regardless of whether or not you have requested to apply the S/U option. If you have chosen the S/U option, the grade of “S” or “U” will appear on your transcript rather than the letter grade. The S/U grade is not calculated into your GPA, and may not transfer to another institution. You will have up to two years to revert back to the letter grade submitted by your professor if you decide to.

What Does "Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U)” Mean?

If you have chosen the S/U grading option, at the end of the semester and after your professor submits final grades for the class, your grade will be recorded as “S” if your earned grade is equivalent to one of the following: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, or C-. If your final grade for the class is D+, D, D-, or F, you will see “U” recorded on your transcript. Neither the “S” or “U” grades affect your grade point average.

why would someone choose a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade?

S/U grades don't affect your grade point average (GPA) at HCC. This allows you to earn credits for passing your class with a grade of “S” without damaging your GPA. “U” grades will not provide you with credit for your class, but will also not harm your GPA.

Why would someone decide not to choose a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade?

Many four-year colleges and universities typically do not accept “S” grades for transfer. While HCC has been in close communication with many of our transfer partners, we can't guarantee acceptance of an “S” grade by transfer institutions.

Which Classes ARE NOT Allowing the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Option During Spring 2020 Semester?

Courses that require a minimum letter grade as a prerequisite (or requirement) for another course, and courses that require minimum letter grades for admission into selective programs (such as nursing, radiologic technology, and veterinary technician) are not allowing the S/U option. Please meet with your advisor to discuss whether this is the right option for you.

What are all of the available Course Grading Options?
  1. Standard letter grade: The standard course letter grade of A through F is automatically applied to most courses. Each grade carries grade points that get calculated into your GPA.
  2. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory: This option does not impact GPA. To use the S/U option, meet with your professor to review your current grade, and talk with your academic advisor. If you plan to transfer to a four-year college or university, you should also meet with a transfer counselor to discuss how S/U might affect your ability to transfer. Once you've decided that selecting the S/U grading option is the right choice, complete this form by 4:30 p.m. on May 13, 2020.
  3. Incomplete grade option: If you're temporarily unable to complete your coursework, this option can be selected. It must be done in consultation with your professor. Incomplete course material must be completed by the middle of the following semester in order to earn a letter grade. A grade of “F” will be recorded if the incomplete coursework is not submitted as required.
  4. Withdrawal: This option is available if you are unable to complete your coursework for a variety of reasons. To select this option, complete this form by 4:30 p.m. by May 13, 2020.
How do I know which is the right option for Me?

Talk with your academic advisor. They can help review your educational goals to decide if satisfactory/unsatisfactory is the right choice.

What Is The Deadline For Making My Choices?

Applications for the S/U grading option or withdrawing from one or more classes must be received by the last day of classes, May 13, 2020, by 4:30 p.m.

Will A Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade Impact My Financial Aid?

The S/U grade is not counted in your GPA, so it will not impact the "qualitative component" of financial aid's Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. However, the S grade is counted as both attempted and earned credit hours, and the U grade is counted as attempted, but not earned credits. This means that the S/U grade could impact the "quantitative component" of the SAP standards, which require students to successfully complete at least two-thirds of cumulative attempted credit hours.

how do i submit My Request To Use A Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade?

First, you need to talk with your professor to verify your grade. Second, talk with your academic advisor about how this option will impact your educational goals. Third, talk with a transfer counselor about how this option may impact the transferability of your course(s). After these discussions, if you and your professor/advisor/counselor believe the S/U grading option is right for you, complete this form.

I'm Planning To Transfer To Another School After I Finish At HCC. How Does A Satisfactory Grade Transfer?

While S/U grades are not calculated into your GPA at HCC, we can't guarantee how other schools will calculate your GPA.

HCC's transfer office can assist students with questions regarding transfer and the S/U option. To schedule an appointment, contact Mark Broadbent at mbroadbent@hcc.edu. Students considering transferring to selective private colleges such as Amherst, Smith, or Mount Holyoke should contact the Pathways program. To schedule an appointment, contact Irma Medina at imedina@hcc.edu.

Please meet with your advisor to discuss whether S/U is the right option for you.

Can I do S/U For Some Of My Classes But Not For Others?

Yes! You can pick the grading option that works best for you in each of your classes.

I'm graduating This Spring. How Does This Impact Me?

You should still review whether S/U is a good option for you in light of your future academic goals. You will be able to graduate from HCC as scheduled, assuming you pass your classes this semester to earn the necessary credits.

I'm On Academic Probation. How would s/u Impact Me?

Please discuss your situation with your academic advisor. The college will review cases holistically, and your academic advisor will be able to discuss your options with you.

What If I'm Retaking A Class In This Semester To Replace a Previous Grade?

If you want, you can select a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade to replace the previous grade. This will essentially wipe the grade from your GPA calculation. Please note that this option is not available for courses that require a minimum letter grade as a prerequisite for another course and courses that require minimum letter grades for admission into selective programs (such as nursing, radiologic technology, and veterinary technician). Please meet with your advisor to discuss whether this is the right option for you.

What If I'm Taking A Class As A Pre-Requisite For Future Coursework? Will an "S" Grade Satisfy The Pre-Requisite?

Courses that require a minimum letter grade as a prerequisite for another course and courses that require minimum letter grades for admission into selective programs (such as nursing, radiologic technology, and veterinary technician) are not allowing the S/U option. Please meet with your advisor to discuss whether this is the right option for you.

Can High School Students Enrolled In College Courses Take Advantage Of This S/U Grading Option?

Please talk to your high school counselor first to make sure this option won't impact your ability to satisfy your high school graduation requirements. If your counselor approves you using the S/U option, you can talk with your HCC dual enrollment/early college advisor to begin the process.

Does This Impact My Options To Withdraw (Listed As a “W” on your Transcript) or Request an Incomplete (Listed as an “I” on your Transcript)?

After discussing it with your advisor, you can withdraw from a course using this form. The deadline for course withdrawal is the same as the deadline for selecting the S/U option: May 13, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. You will not receive credit or a grade in a class from which you withdraw, and it could negatively impact your financial aid. If you're worried about your grade, selecting the S/U option might be better than withdrawal, because it still allows you to receive credit for your work without impacting your GPA. If you believe extraordinary circumstances have caused you to withdraw, you can file an administrative action appeal.

If you request and receive an "incomplete" grade from your faculty member, an "I" grade will be listed on your transcript. If you complete coursework before the midpoint of the fall 2020 semester, your "I" grade will be replaced by your final grade on your transcript. If you do not complete your coursework, your "I" grade will be replaced by an “F."

I chose the S/U Grading Option But Want A Letter Grade On My Transcript. how can i get this?

If you have elected for the S/U option, the grade of “S” or “U” will appear on your transcript. You will have up to two years to revert back to the letter grade submitted by your professor should you so choose.

Will The S/U Grading Option Be Available For Summer or Fall 2020 Classes?

This option as amended by the HCC College Senate on April 20, 2020 is only available for Spring 2020 courses at this time.

Are you a Holyoke Community College student with expenses related to the disruption of HCC operations due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic? You may qualify for a federal CARES Act grant which provides emergency funding for college students. 

About the CARES Act Grant

The CARES Act funds were issued to Holyoke Community College from the federal government based on a funding formula. These funds are to be distributed directly to students who meet the following eligibility requirements:

CARES Act Eligibility
  1. You must be currently enrolled for the spring 2020 semester at Holyoke Community College.
  2. You must have at least one class that, prior to March 13, 2020, met face-to-face during the spring 2020 semester. Students enrolled in entirely online courses during the spring 2020 semester are not eligible. 
  3. You must be eligible to receive Federal financial aid. The best way to know if you are eligible to receive Federal financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you have already completed the FAFSA for the 2019-20 or 2020-21 financial aid award year, that's great! If you did not complete a FAFSA for either of those award years, complete your 2019-20 FAFSA today!

If you meet all three of the eligibility requirements listed above, you will receive a one-time grant.*   

This grant will be distributed to you based on the refund preferences you set up in Online Services.  To check your preferences, login to Online Services  and go to the  eRefund/eBill Statement/Payments/Payment Plan link under the Student Services tab.


Does the money need to be repaid? 

No, money received through this fund does not need to be repaid.

Does this funding reduce my financial aid? 

The CARES Act grant will not reduce your financial aid. 

When will I receive my money?

HCC is working right now to determine who is eligible and deliver funds to students as quickly as possible. We hope to have the first group of grants processed by May 15. To get your money as quickly as possible, log into Online Services to set up your refund preference. Money that is deposited directly into a bank account will come more quickly than a check that comes through the mail.

What kind of expenses are eligible for grant consideration?

  • Buying or renting a Chromebook or laptop
  • Internet access
  • Utilities based on increased time at home
  • Increase in cost of food based on loss of food subsidized by HCC

What if my income or expenses have changed for reasons other than the disruption of campus services?

You can contact the Financial Aid Office at 413.552.2150 or financialaid@hcc.edu to discuss the possibility of a review of your Title IV financial aid based on changes to your financial situation. 

What if I withdrew from the college or my course or program ended prior to March 13? Can I still apply for this money?

No. These funds are only for students who are currently enrolled at HCC.

I don't qualify for CARES Act funding, but I, too, have incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. Is there funding available for me? 

The college has established the President's Student Emergency Fund to help students overcome financial barriers to success. To learn more about this emergency fund, go here

*CARES Act grants were calculated as a minimal baseline estimate of the incremental costs to students related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, such as increased internet usage, expenses related to technology needs, increased utility usage, and to some extent, expenses related to food costs associated with not being on campus.