Because of COVID (my spellecheck says covid and Covid are not words, but COVID is) various schools have done various things to make school less traumatic. Students already have problems, either getting COVID or having their friends got family get it (I've had four relatives get it, and one died) . Some do not adjust to learning online. Some do not have good computer connection to learn on line. So what is a good policy? Here are some things I have either seen schools do or heard that they might do.
1) Be more generous with Tuition-Refunds if a student has to withdraw.
2) Be more generous with Housing-Refunds if a students comes to campus thinking it will be courses on campus and there are no courses on campus. Or if a student has to withdraw.
3) Make the deadlines for dropping-without-a-W, or taking-it-pass-fail, later in the semester.
4) Tell the teachers to `just teach them the bare min they need for the next course.'
5) Allow students to take courses P/F in their major and still allow them to count, so a student might get a D in Discrete Math and be able to go on in the major.
6) How far to extend deadlines? How is this: extend deadline to make it P/F until the last day of classes (but before the final) and then after the final is given, the school changes its mind and says - OH, you can change to P/F now if you want to.
7) Allow either an absolute number (say 7) or a fraction (say 1/3) of the courses to be changed to P/F by the last day of class.
8) Combine 6 or 7 with saying NO- a D is an F for a P/F course. Perhaps only if its in the major, but that maybe hard to work out. since majors can change. Some schools do A-B-C-NO CREDIT, where the NC grade does not go into the GPA.
9) Give standard letter grades and tell the students to tough it out. Recall the following inspirational quotes
When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping
When the going gets tough, the tough take a nap
If at first you don't succeed, quit. Why make a damn fool of yourself.
If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving is not for you.
10) Decide later in the term what to do depending on who yells the loudest.
11) Any combination of the above that makes sense, and even some that don't.
On the one hand, there are students who are going through very hard times because of COVID and should be given a break. On the other hand, we want to give people a good education and give grades that are meaningful (the logic of how to give grades in normal times is another issue for another blog post).
What is your school doing? Is it working? What does it mean to be working?
The problems I am talking about are first-world problems or even champagne-problems. I know there are people who have far worse problems then getting a bad grade or dropping courses.