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The City University Of New York – Special Covid-19 Flexible Grading Policy For The Spring 2020 Semester

WHEREAS, On March 13, 2020, in response to the threat presented by the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, and in an effort to reduce the density of faculty, staff and students on City University of New York (the “University”) campuses, the University announced that, effective on March 19, 2020 all University academic courses would be moved on-line or alternatively to a distance learning modality; and

WHEREAS, On March 20, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Executive Order 202.6, or the “New York State PAUSE” Executive Order, a 10-point policy directive, which directed all non-essential businesses statewide to close in-office personnel functions and temporarily ban all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason; and

WHEREAS, In response to this change in instructional modality and the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the lives of our students, faculty and staff, the University Office of Academic Affairs, in consultation with campus Presidents and Deans, the University Faculty Senate, and the University Student Senate, has determined the need for a flexible grading policy that will provide students maximum flexibility as they navigate the challenges associated with the University’s move to distance learning and the effects of our City’s social distancing guidelines on their personal lives; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, That during the Spring 2020 semester, all students shall have the option to convert any or all of the (A-F) letter grades they earn in their classes, to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading; and be it further

RESOLVED, That students shall be able to make this decision up to 20 business days after the University’s final grade submission deadline. Once selected, the CR/NC option cannot be reversed; and be it further

RESOLVED, That if a student chooses to exercise this option, a passing letter grade (A, B, C, or D) will convert to ‘CR’ with credit for the class being awarded, while a failing grade (F) will convert to ‘NC’, with no credit awarded. Credit/No Credit grades will not impact the student’s GPA; and be it further

RESOLVED, That courses taken for a letter grade will continue to be included in the semester and general GPA, while courses taken for a Credit/Non-credit grade will be excluded, just as is the case with such courses taken at a student’s home institution; and be it further

RESOLVED, That if a student exercises the option of Credit/No Credit, the Credit (CR) grade will not negatively impact the student’s satisfactory progress toward degree completion; and be it further RESOLVED, That Students with Credit/No Credit grades will be able to transfer those courses across colleges within CUNY, per current CUNY policy; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall apply to coursework completed on Permit and will not affect Board of Trustees Policy 1.14 – Policy on Coursework Completed on Permit; and be it further RESOLVED, That students placed on academic probation by their institution at the start of the Spring 2020 semester shall not be penalized with academic dismissal based upon their grades earned this semester; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall not affect the University standards of student retention and progress in accordance with Board of Trustees Policy 1.26; and be it further

RESOLVED, That before choosing this grading option for one or more of their classes, students shall consult with their academic and financial aid advisors regarding potential impact to their financial aid, licensure requirements, and graduate school admissions; and be it further

RESOLVED, The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall supersede and override all undergraduate and graduate program-level grading policies currently in effect at CUNY colleges and schools, including those related to required and elective courses within the major, minor, general education (Pathways), pre-requisite courses, honors courses, courses taken on permit and maximum number of credits that a student can earn with Credit/No Credit grades; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the grade glossary, attached to each transcript, will be updated to include a notation denoting that all Spring 2020 grades, including CR or NC, were earned during a major disruption to instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall apply to all CUNY colleges and schools, except the School of Law and the School of Medicine, which may develop their own Pass/Fail policies, subject to approval of the Board of Trustees, to conform to norms in legal and medical education; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy, which shall be effective April 1, 2020, applies to the Spring 2020 semester only and that the Chancellor, may, in his discretion, to meet health emergency policies and practices, extend this policy to future semesters, if necessary and report such extension to the Board of Trustees immediately; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy shall be codified in the Manual of General Policy as Policy 1.4. and cannot be overwritten by any individual units of the University, including presidents, provosts, or college councils.

EXPLANATION: Beginning March 19, 2020 and continuing through the end of the Spring 2020 Semester, CUNY classes are being conducted through distance education methods utilizing the University’s digital resources. The transition to distance learning serves to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining academic continuity and ensuring students are able to finish the semester and protect their financial aid. By moving all of its students and faculty to distance learning and all staff to distance working, CUNY is also heeding the call of State and City Officials to reduce density to the greatest extent possible, while making sure the University stays focused on its educational mission. In the days since CUNY moved to distance education, matters of equity and access have already begun to surface on our campuses and the magnitude of the disruption of COVID-19 in the lives of our campus communities have become evident. In order to make sure that all students are equipped for distance learning, campuses have been purchasing and distributing additional hardware to students who need in order to continue to fully participate in distance learning. Additionally, faculty have been asked to fine tune their practices to improve educational outcomes, including granting flexibility to students who might have limited access to equipment since the rollout of distance learning began. The Special COVID-19 Flexible Grading Policy is an important part of the flexibility we all must offer to our students during this difficult time. The policy will allow students to feel less pressure and anxiety about their grades as they navigate this new distance education environment against the backdrop of the disruptions to daily live resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy will remain in effect for the Spring 2020 semester and will be reviewed by the Chancellor and extended as necessary to meet public health emergency policies and practices.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on SAP Processes

Spring 2020

The guidance outlined below pertains to the Spring 2020 semester; while this policy was enacted for Spring 2020, any NC and applicable withdrawal grades from Spring 2020 will be perpetually excluded from the quantitative SAP calculation each subsequent year.

 Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, CUNY has adjusted the federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for the Spring 2020 semester according to the May 15th , 2020 FSA Electronic Announcement, under Section 3509 of the CARES Act. According to the University issued policy on Academic Continuity in response to COVID-19, any student who cannot complete any attempted credits for the Spring 2020 as of the onset of the pandemic on March13th, 2020, will have these credits excluded from the quantitative/pace component on the Federal SAP calculation. Moreover, a student is not required to submit a 2020-2021 SAP appeal to exclude the COVID-19 related withdrawals (as of March 13th, 2020) and NC grades from the quantitative evaluation (Maximum Timeframe and Pace) as a result of a college transitioning to distance learning (for instance, students moved from ground-based instruction to distance learning/closed campus housing/other campus facilities, or experienced other education interruptions during Spring 2020 and Fall 2020). As such, CUNY’s policy considers all Spring 2020 withdrawals (as of March 13th, 2020) from students enrolled in affected programs and NC grades to have been the result of circumstances related to the COVID-19 national emergency.

 Fall 2020
For Fall 2020, colleges had the option to exclude withdrawal grades on a case by case basis with documented COVID-19 information from the student. This analysis was done on the campus level.
 Fall 2020 NC grades were excluded from the quantitative component (Maximum Timeframe and Pace). The Fall 2020 NC grades and manual withdrawal grade exclusion will continue to be cumulatively excluded from all future SAP evaluations for the student’s enrollment in their academic career.

 Spring 2021
NC and withdrawal grades from the Spring 2021 semester were included in the SAP calculation and will continue to be included in all future SAP evaluations for the student’s enrollment in their academic career.

NOTE:  The CUNY policy provides guidance for the student to choose a CR/NC grade for A-F grades. Each college may have its discretion of a W-type grade that can be converted to an NC grade and the college should make its policy with documentation. This decision should be treated as an academic appeal.