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University of Hawaii offers students alternative grading system for coronavirus-disrupted spring semester

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / FEB. 7
                                Students in the University of Hawaii system have options for their course grading for the spring semester, which was disrupted by the coronavirus threat.

    STAR-ADVERTISER / FEB. 7

    Students in the University of Hawaii system have options for their course grading for the spring semester, which was disrupted by the coronavirus threat.

The University of Hawaii is giving its students the option of choosing credit or no credit rather than letter grades for the spring semester, according to an email sent to students.

“UH recognizes that the academic, personal, and financial situations of students, faculty, and staff have been abruptly transformed,” the email said. “The guidelines developed by the vice chancellors were then distributed to each campus faculty senate for consultation.”

Final grades are expected to come out on May 20, and students have until May 22 to choose between the options. Those who choose credit or no credit will have a note on their transcript that would say, “semester disrupted by COVID-19.”

Faculty will continue with the grading period and award letter grades this semester through MY UH, a website for students.

The email said if students receive a letter grade of C or better, they may choose credit, and students with C- or lower may opt for no credit, which would not affect their GPA.

Donald Straney, vice president for Academic Planning and Policy, said UH is working on changing and clarifying the grading policy for the spring semester. He added that the university will go back to giving letter grades in the summer – if COVID-19 clears up. The policy will be available to the public on April 17.

Straney also said UH had discussions about changing the grading policy before spring break.

“Students know their situation the best,” he said in an interview. “I just wanted to make sure that we got out something quick.”

All 10 campuses moved to online from in-person classes on March 23 as a precaution for the coronavirus pandemic. The campus had been closed to the public, but dorms and other campus facilities such as libraries remained open. Students who were living in the dorms have been packing up and moving home.

The UH student government passed a resolution on March 26 to urge the university to consider the grading transition, while the faculty senate was working on changing the grading policies.

Raiyan Rafid, vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said the option would help students while they’re adapting to online learning and moving back home. He noted that the decision would ease the stress over grades for students who are on scholarships or financial aid.

“At this difficult time, grades are the last thing that students should have to worry about,” he said. “Having the option to decide credit or no credit after the grades are posted gives students the necessary flexibility.”

UH Manoa Associate Specialist Julianne Walsh said she missed sharing a classroom with her students but is “glad we will finish the semester strong and students have options for what works best for their unique circumstances.”

“We all want to get through this isolation with strong relationships, support, and positive moments and memories,” she said in an email. “If that means extending deadlines of shifting final assignments and assessments, I’m more than happy to do that. And I appreciate how my students also support me as I juggle work and children at home.”

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