By Abeer Khan and Madi Wong
Ryerson students enrolled in undergraduate and Chang School courses will have the option of receiving letter grades or replacing their grades with a credit in light of COVID-19.
“We understand that these last few weeks have been challenging, as COVID-19 has caused a number of disruptions to your day-to-day lives,” the office of the provost and vice-president, academic stated in an email on Wednesday.
“[The university knows] that you’ve worked hard to get to where you are, and the value of your Ryerson education matters to you.”
For winter 2020 courses only, Ryerson students now have the option to either maintain an assigned letter grade, replacing their grade with a credit or dropping their course without academic penalty with a no credit grade.
However, the credit/no credit option is not currently available for Yeates School of Graduate Studies (YSGS) students “given some of the complexities related to graduate education,” the statement reads.
Ryerson has extended the deadline for graduate students to drop their courses to April 9 and extended the date to clear any graduation requirements for spring convocation for YSGS students.
On March 13, Ryerson announced the switch to online classes in response to COVID-19 in a statement earlier this month.
A petition started by a Ryerson student on March 19 asked the university to consider a pass or fail grading system, stating that the “students’ health and safety comes before assignments and grades.” It has since received over 3,000 signatures.
“It’s hard to focus on school work when there’s an actual pandemic going on and nobody knows what’s going to happen in the next few weeks or few months,” said Isabella Castellano, a first-year social work student.
She says the ongoing pandemic has severely impacted her mental health and she would like to see a pass/fail grading system implemented in order to take some stress away from students.
Earlier this week, president Mohamed Lachemi said in an interview with The Eyeopener that a pass or fail system may not be the best-suited option for Ryerson, but he stated that changes were currently being proposed.
“We are working on a solution that can accommodate most of the students, but that solution requires also an approval of Senate.”
In an email to The Eyeopener on Monday, Secretary of Senate Donna Bell also confirmed that “there is consideration to grading options being proposed.”
Omar Ha-Redeye, an adjunct professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management was optimistic that Ryerson would look at the unique circumstances students are in, and make a progressive decision.
“In order to minimize the impact that this pandemic has had on our students’ academic careers, I would definitely be in support of moving towards a pass or fail system for this semester,” said Ha-Redeye.
“Simply because people are at home doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the luxury and the ability to be able to focus, for example, on their schoolwork in the same way,” he said.
However, some students were not in favour of school-wide change.
“It is a really stressful time and needing to be accommodated is vital,” said Charmaine Reid, a fourth-year politics and governance student. “But I don’t think it will be effective school-wide.”
Reid aspires to continue her education and go to law school, but she says she needs her grades from this semester to have a better chance for acceptance and scholarships. “A lot of scholarships are dependent on maintaining a certain GPA. I’m worried that many of these scholarships won’t be able to accommodate for the change in grading school-wide,” she said.
The University of Toronto (UofT) offers a Credit/No Credit (CR/NCR) program which gives students the option to gain a credit for a course, without the course grade counting towards the students’ CGPAs. Students who have achieved a 50 per cent or higher in the course can use the CR/NCR option.
In an email to UofT students earlier this month, the university announced changes to the program to accommodate for the switch to online classes applicable only for the winter semester.
These changes will allow students to use the CR/NCR option on any or all winter term courses, removing the previous two-credit limit. They also stated that this option will be applicable to courses that are program requirements.
The University of Waterloo has also implemented a CR/NCR program for the winter semester.