“Students can decide effectively on a course-by-course basis how they want to do this,” said Thomas Chase, U of R provost and vice-president.
The university is giving students four options to choose from for each course they are enrolled in.
Students can finish the course and receive a final grade percentage.
Students can choose to withdraw from a course and receive a ‘W.’ That grade won’t count as a failing mark and it won’t affect the student’s GPA.
The university extended the deadline to withdraw from a course to the last day of classes, April 9.
“If, however, things have not gone well, you’ve been stressed by the COVID-19 situation, by life in a time of pandemic, we’ve given another two options,” Chase said.
The university is also offering students a pass-fail option, which would replace the percentage grade with either Credit COVID-19 (CRC) or a No Credit COVID-19 (NCC).
“It’s what we call a ‘transcript notation,’ indicating to other schools that you might go on for graduate work of the special circumstances arising from the pandemic,” Chase said.
“It can be used in degree completion requirements so you can continue in your course of study. Let’s say that course is a prerequisite for another, you can go on and take the next course.”
A grade of CRC or NCC won’t affect a student’s GPA.
The deadline for the pass-fail option is May 31.
These changes come after faculties received a number of emails from concerned students, according to Chase.
“Student’s program needs differ from faculty to faculty; individual student needs vary greatly,” Chase said.
“Those options, we think, give the maximum number of students the maximum flexibility in a situation where none of us dreamt would arise and none of us had hoped to live through.”
More than 4,000 students signed an online petition calling on the U of R to switch to a pass-fail grading system.
“It shouldn’t be business as usual,” said U of R education student Ret Brailsford. “The university needs to take steps to accommodate students in the midst of a global pandemic.”
The U of R suspended classes March 16 to March 19, before switching to online lectures and eliminating face-to-face instruction.
The move to virtual classrooms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t an easy transition for many students.
“It’s a really unprecedented time with a lot of fear, uncertainty and anxiety,” Brailsford said. “There’s greater things to worry about than what grade is on my history paper.”
Between Wi-Fi issues, lack of classroom supports and worrying about their own health, Brailsford said it’s hard to focus on marks.
“Expecting [students] to complete the same amount of course work with no supports while they worry about paying rent and bills is inhumane,” the petition stated.
Brailsford wanted options from the university and is in favour of the pass-fail grade.
Levi Perrault, a fourth-year politics, philosophy and economics student, also wanted options because he said a pass-fail grade wouldn’t reflect students’ achievements this semester.
“It undercuts a lot of people trying to get into graduate programs who need the marks, who need to prove they’ve achieved that higher level.”
Perrault starts law school in the fall. While he’s already been accepted, he said he still needs to maintain his average.
“Law school requires a certain standard of marks,” Perrault said. “If I only have a pass-fail and I can’t prove that I achieved that standard, it could be very bad for my acceptance.”
Students said professors are accommodating throughout the entire transition. They’ve extended deadlines, shifted grade weights on assignments and in some cases made final assignments optional.
The last day of classes is April 9.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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