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University of Mississippi approves change in grading scale for spring semester

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a change to everyone’s daily routines, so to help with the ever-changing landscape of the education sector during the crisis, the University of Mississippi approved a change to alleviate some pressure for students.

The Council of Academic Administrators (CAA) and Chancellor Glenn Boyce approved changes to the University’s grading policy for the spring 2020 semester. The change was approved on Saturday during a special meeting called by the CAA to give students some accommodations in light of the suspension of in-person instruction for the remainder of the semester.

The changes will allow undergraduate students to choose to change to a grade of C or better to a Z grade. Grades between a C-minus and D can be changed to P, or passing, grade. The proposal included an amendment to allow the School of Pharmacy to opt-out of these changes.

The University’s Associated Student Body issued a statement in support of the change to the grading policy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the daily lives of every member of the University community,” the statement read. “Considering the challenges that students, faculty, staff, and administrators at the University of Mississippi are now facing — and in acknowledging that existing grading policies were written under the assumptions that no longer apply —  we believe that allowing students the option to choose a passing grade in lieu of a traditional letter grade will allow students impacted by this crisis to move forward in their coursework, while still allowing some students to maintain their letter grade, if they so choose.”

A student’s grade-point average will be affected only if they opt to have a Z grade. If students keep the grades they earn, those will count toward their GPA, but if a student changes a class grade to the Z grade, it will not affect their GPA positively or negatively. The decision to change the grade at the end of the semester will be up to the student’s, not the professor’s, discretion.

The approved change does not pertain to graduate students. The Graduate Council deferred action in hopes of gaining more information to understand the implications of the changes for graduate students.

The CAA also passed a resolution requesting Deans’ offices exercise greater flexibility in allowing late withdrawal requests in light of the COVID-19 emergency.

After an extended spring break, mandated by the Institutes of Higher Learning, all of Mississippi’s public universities resumed their semesters on Monday.