CapU to give students options for COVID semester’s final grades

Capilano University students will finish their semester and have a chance to graduate but final grades might not look how they used to.

The school’s senate voted Tuesday for a new approach to grades and credits as the spring semester has been thrown into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Under the new rules, students may choose whether they receive a final grade that they earned through their coursework and exams or simply receive a credit that counts towards their degree or diploma but doesn’t sway their grade point average.

“We’re really trying to look for the balance of maintaining strong academic standards and also recognizing this, as you know, is very unprecedented in terms of what we're experiencing as community and as a university,” said Laureen Styles, vice-president academic and provost.

That was option the Capilano Students’ Union had been hoping for, said Emily Bridge, CSU president.

“The benefits to this for students is basically a lot of flexibility in making sure that, just because we're in the midst of a public health crisis, doesn't mean that your GPA, your scholarships, or whatever your future goals are, will be affected,” she said. “We're all dealing with something that we could not prepare for.”

UBC and SFU have adopted the same approach, Styles said.

Students who were counting on their final grades to apply for acceptance into another post-secondary program can still fall back on their GPAs leading up to this semester, Styles said, although academia has been opening up its criteria for acceptance to consider things beyond grades alone.

“So for students who are doing well and excelling up until the chaos of COVID-19, that would continue to put them in good stead applying to new programs,’ she said

The last classes of the semester wrapped on Thursday, albeit with instructors delivering lectures to their students via webcam, as they had been doing since the middle of March.

“This was a very quick pivot to respond to the calls from public health to maintain physical distancing in supportive of the health and safety of our communities,” said Laureen Styles, vice-president academic and provost.

Some teachers have chosen to remove final exams from the curriculum but for those who haven’t, online exams begin next week.

“We are using all of the tools at our disposal within our university to maximize academic integrity,” Styles said.

The summer semester is going ahead, although it too will be online only. As for fall semester and start of the 2020-2021 academic year, it’s too soon to say whether classes will be delivered in person, or what to expect in terms of enrollment

“That’s the million-dollar question isn’t it?” Styles said. “I believe all post-secondary institutions in the province and across the country and probably across the globe have been really thinking about how we can best provide a level of certainty and support students and faculty in whatever that decision may be.”

Styles added she has been nothing but impressed with the flexibility Capilano University’s faculty and students and shown in such uncertain times.

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