Offer Student Selected Pass/Fail Grading Option at USM After Semester Grades Are Released

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To whom it may concern:

Spring semester 2020 at the University of Southern Maine was unlike any other semester due to the rapid transition of classes from in-person to remote as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the difficulty of navigating nearly two full months of unexpected remote learning, the University of Southern Maine provided its students with the option to select pass/fail grading after seeing their final letter grades for the semester. This allowed students to ensure that the challenges that come from remote learning did not have a major impact on their overall GPA.

The fall 2020 semester has hardly been different from the spring semester, with remote learning the reality for most of USM's students. In addition, while COVID prevention policies are in place on campus, it still feels like a risk to go to campus for classes while a pandemic continues to rage on. Many students have gone back to work with the end of federal unemployment benefits and the false sense of security that was felt when Maine's COVID numbers remained relatively low. Essentially, things are arguably worse than they were in the spring (both COVID-wise and student stress-wise), yet students do not have the same grading options that were afforded last semester. 

The University of Maine is offering a student selected pass/fail option, so why not follow the lead of the largest UMaine system school and lift a major weight from many students' shoulders by offering it at USM as well?

Thank you for your consideration, 

Emily Skvorak, USM '21