Students who faced ‘COVID-related problems’ this fall can opt for a ‘pass’ grade

Social distancing has become the norm around WKU’s campus, with lines, computer labs and classrooms being restructured to allow for space between people. Students in finance professor Mohsen Mollagholamali’s classes have been seated six feet apart from each other all semester, as WKU and the United States continues the fight against COVID-19.

Sean Snyder

WKU is allowing students who faced “COVID-related problems” in the fall semester to opt for a “pass” grade instead of a “B” or “C.”

Provost Cheryl Stevens sent an email to faculty on Tuesday about the modification. 

The option comes at the end of a semester plagued with challenges for students such as missing class from quarantining, adapting to online classes and stress from the global pandemic.

WKU Faculty Senate voted 40-9 in favor and SGA voted unanimously for a “Pass/D/Fail” option, similar to one used last spring. SGA also presented nearly 20 pages of student testimonies in favor of the option.

Stevens explained the delay of any decision in the email to faculty.

“We were hesitant because the situations have been fundamentally different—in the spring, students and faculty had to shift to remote learning without warning while in the fall students and faculty had time to prepare.”

The revised grading option comes with limitations. Students must email their professor with a case as to why they need the “P” option, and the professor will ultimately make the decision.

“This is a reasonable solution that keeps final grade assignments in the hands of individual faculty, diminishes potential problems with financial aid, keeps us more aligned with our normal processes, and slows down the decision-making process” Stevens said in the email.

Earlier this semester SGA released a petition started calling for the option garnering over 3,500 signatures in three days, with many citing the difficulty of online classes and stress.

“This takes a huge load of stress off of me and a lot of other students I know.” said junior Destiny Weddle. “College is hard enough, then I got sick and was unable to attend in person classes so I fell way behind.”

Students interested will need to email their professor with their 800 number and make a case for the option by Jan. 13. 

Sean Snyder can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @seanwsnyder.