Coronavirus response: Grading policies for the spring semester

UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate Oliver O’Reilly, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Cathy Koshland, and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division Lisa García Bedolla, sent the following message to the campus community on Friday:

The campus has faced tremendous challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions and actions have been taken at an extraordinary pace and the response from our community has been inspirational. Guiding the decision making has been the principle of prioritizing the health and well-being of the community. In addition, every effort has been made to preserve the instructional and research missions of our university.

In response to the unusual and challenging circumstances that instructors and students are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we write to let you know that the Academic Senate has approved the following changes for the spring 2020 semester:

  • The default grading basis for all undergraduate courses for the spring 2020 semester will be changed to Passed/Not Passed (P/NP).

  • Instructors must continue to maintain and submit records of letter grades earned.

  • Students will be permitted to change their grading option to letter grade until at least May 6, 2020 (the Wednesday of RRR week).

  • The policy does not apply to courses that can only be taken P/NP. The exact deadline during RRR week for changing grading options will be announced at a later date.

    Further, the Divisional Council (DIVCO) and Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI), on behalf of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, have authorized the temporary suspension of some regulations. This has enabled schools and colleges to temporarily modify requirements for students affected by the COVID-19 emergency and ensure that progress toward a degree or a minor will not be affected should a student take a class P/NP. A notation will be included on transcripts indicating the exceptional change to grading during spring 2020.

    Graduate students may change the grading of their courses to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) until Friday, May 8, 2020. As part of the relaxation of regulations approved, graduate programs may increase the fraction of S/U courses that can count toward degree requirements beyond the existing cap of 1/3. We remind instructors that they must continue to maintain and submit records of letter grades earned.

    Advice and additional details on implementation of these policies to students will be forthcoming by the end of next week and we ask students for their patience. Rest assured your health and well-being is our primary concern. Companion messaging and guidance on the policy will be sent to instructors, staff, and student advisors; we are very grateful to them for the additional effort that will be required to implement the policy.

    We thank all of you for your efforts to maintain the mission of our campus. The sacrifices you are making now will save lives and help to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. 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.

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