UC Berkeley spring 2020 undergraduate courses to default to pass/no pass grading

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All of UC Berkeley’s spring 2020 undergraduate courses will default to the pass/no pass grading system, according to a campuswide email sent Friday.

Because of the COVID-19, the new coronavirus, pandemic, all spring 2020 courses are now online. While many lecture and discussion classes have been relocated onto Zoom, many students have expressed that the online academic experience is overwhelmingly lesser compared to in-person classes.

This information was sent midday Friday by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division Lisa García Bedolla and campus Academic Senate chair Oliver O’Reilly.

If a student wishes to take a class for a letter grade, they will be able to change their grading option until May 6. Instructors will also continue submitting letter grade records.

Certain regulations have also been temporarily suspended, allowing the campus to temporarily modify student requirements toward a degree or minor if students chose to take pass/no pass classes. There will be a notation on transcripts regarding spring 2020 grades to denote the semester’s extenuating circumstances.

Students have been petitioning for changes to the grading system because of the interruption that online classes have caused to their education. Two petitions have been made on the topic already; one calls for classes to adopt the pass/no pass system, while the other calls for 90% of every class to receive some variant of an A.

Graduate students will not have their classes defaulted to a “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” option, according to the email, but they will be allowed to change their grading options until May 8. Campus administration will also be allowing graduate programs to increase the fraction of classes not taken for a letter grade counting toward a degree beyond the one-third cap.

More information about these policies will be released soon, according to the email, with similar messages also having been sent to instructors, staff and student advisors. 

“The sacrifices you are making now will save lives and help to protect the most vulnerable members of our society,” campus administration said in the email. “This time will pass and will become a chapter in our campus’s history that we can all be proud of. In the meantime, please take care of yourself and your loved ones.”

Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Kate Finman at [email protected].