Graphic by Marlena Lang // THE CHIMES
Due to unforeseen circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, students will be allowed to choose credit or no credit options for their classes as part of a temporary grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester. Senior Vice President and Provost Deborah Taylor announced the changes via a school-wide email on April 9.
“Through our transition to remote delivery formats, we have been committed to providing remote education that maintains the highest quality instruction possible,” Taylor said via email. “We trust that you have fully engaged in your courses. However, we know that some students have faced extraordinary circumstances beyond their control during this transition, but more specifically with the circumstances created by the pandemic.”
Faculty will submit letter grades for this semester as usual, by the end of finals week on May 15. After this, students will have 10 business days, until May 30, to petition to move their grades to credit or no credit. For undergraduate students, grades C- or higher are eligible to be converted to a CR credit standing, which means the course will count for credit toward degree completion but will not impact the student’s GPA. For graduate students, a course grade must be at least a B- to qualify for credit.
Students that receive a D or an F are eligible to convert their grades to a NC, no credit standing. This would be due to extenuating circumstances and would have no effect on the student’s overall GPA. The class would not count toward degree completion.
Some program specific courses may not qualify for CR/NC status due to degree requirements, noted Biola’s coronavirus webpage. Students will receive more information on program specific requirements on or before April 24.
Taylor also clarified the school’s policy on requests for an Incomplete Grade. Students can request an incomplete mark if they are facing “unforeseeable emergencies beyond his/her control and are serious enough to prevent completion of course assignments before the semester ends (e.g., extended illness, mental health crisis, critical family emergency),” according to the Student Handbook.
An incomplete allows a student five weeks after the Friday of finals week to complete the remainder of their coursework. If graduate students request an incomplete they will need to collaborate with the dean of the school. However, if a student receives an incomplete, they will not be able to petition for credit/no credit for that class.
All summer classes taught on campus will be fully transitioned to remote formats, Taylor’s email also announced. This change will only affect 30% of summer classes, as the other 70% are already online. Taylor assured students that post-traditional programs would not be affected by this transition.
Taylor said university personnel would consider allowing students to meet on campus for support activities if social distancing and other regulations were lifted.
Taylor encouraged students to seek counsel from faculty and staff advisors before making decisions in regard to petitioning for credits to change from credit or no credit, as students will not be able to revoke their decision once they’ve made it.
“Advisors are ready to assist students in determining what is in their best interest in the short- and long-term regarding Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) decisions,” reads an update on Biola’s coronavirus webpage.
Taylor’s announcement comes after over 1,000 Biola students signed a petition to move to a pass/fail grading system last week. The petition urged the university to switch to pass/fail in light of student anxiety and logistical challenges following the transition to remote learning on March 12. It referenced other universities like University of California Berkeley, Stanford University and Harvard College, which have given students the option of pass/fail grading.
Editor’s note: This article was edited on April 16 at 6:30 p.m. to clarify the effect a no credit standing would have toward degree completion. It was also edited on April 17 at 2:04 p.m. to clarify the minimum grade graduate students must earn in order to receive credit for a course.