Change UCO’s Fall 2020 Semester Grading Policy to Pass/ No Pass

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Author: Jessica Addai

Co-Author: Katelyn Sargeant

​In the Spring of 2020, the University of Central Oklahoma implemented policies for grading options that allowed students to choose between the standard letter grades or a Pass/No-Pass option (P/NP) due to the global pandemic of the COVID-19 disease. 

​"UCO is implementing new grading policies for spring 2020 to give students some flexibility as they adjust to the unprecedented circumstances.... " - Per the email ‘New Grading Policies for Spring 2020’ sent on March 27th, 2020 from the University of Central Oklahoma’s Academic Affairs Office. 

​Under these mentally taxing and "unprecedented circumstances" of the pandemic and the newly arising political unrest, integrating a Pass/No-Pass option would be a safety net for all of UCO’s community. "The P/NP option is grade neutral (meaning no impact one way or the other on a GPA) and the student will receive credit toward completing their degree..." this measure allows student’s the piece of mind that they will not be punished for the uncontrollable circumstances they have been thrusted unto by the world’s continuous predicament of uncertainty and terror. (Quote per the email ‘New Grading Policies for Spring 2020’ sent on March 27th, 2020 from the University of Central Oklahoma’s Academic Affairs Office.)

​These changes to Fall 2020’s grading policy would be student-centric, wellness focused option that encourage positive learning outcomes, allow students to be more immersed in their learning and continued survival. Without the reduction of this semesters tuition cost, the removal of fall break, and additional extenuating circumstances the current grading policy does not accurate reflect UCO’s students’ academic abilities or their dedication to their academia.

​As of today, November 11th, the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state of Oklahoma has reached above 142, 334 with an increase of 2,177 and 1,470 deaths which is an increase of 19 within the last 24 hour cycle (per the Oklahoma State Government website’s COVID-19 Data: https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/  With the need for constant COVID-19 testing and waiting for results, students face isolationism, uncertainty, and anxiety while in quarantine. We pride ourselves in our commuter college status, intersectional identities, and diverse backgrounds. We call the UCO’s administration to implement these grading policy changes to acknowledge the challenging and diverse circumstances students face. By doing so, this will enable us to achieve our learning goals.

​Professors, staff, and students have endured an intense semester unlike any other. Hours worth of lectures into compacted into Cliff-note overviews. Students find remote, online, and "extended" learning difficult in comparison to traditional learning. Research-based classes that require in-person instruction have transitioned to virtual learning platforms. The last week of October’s ice storm impacting more than 400,000 individuals. Necessitating canceling classes for the week. 40,000 individuals were still reporting outages as of the 7th of November (Per the National Weather Service: https://weather.com/news/news/2020-11-06-power-outages-oklahoma-ice-winter-storm ).Though power has slowly resumed, there are many students that still have limited WiFi capabilities.

​UCO consistently advocates for mindfulness. I now ask for the mindfulness to be extended towards all of UCO’s community to accommodate this semester’s academic disruption.