CUNY will undergo a recalibration period beginning March 27 through April 1, during which no classes will occur, and a special policy will take effect that allows students to decide whether they want a letter grade or a credit/no credit option, according to a Tuesday announcement by Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
CUNY enacted this break so professors could improve distance learning methods and so colleges could continue to provide students in need with equipment they need for online education, according to the Chancellor. Due to the new recess, the spring break period has been reduced by six days to April 8 through April 10. Chancellor Rodríguez said all of these changes reflect equity and access issues across different campuses.
“We are making this move before we get deeper into the semester, to ensure that we are upholding the University’s mission and giving each and every CUNY student an opportunity to thrive,” said Rodríguez in his email to all CUNY campuses.
After Governor Cuomo declared all CUNY and SUNY schools would move to distance learning for the rest of the semester, students, faculty and staff started adjusting to online classes, closed campuses and other work-from-home policies. Some students, however, do not understand the reason for the recalibration period.
“For the most part all of my professors already converted and they’re ready to go with their new updated syllabuses,” said Ihor Bakhnak, a senior studying human biology at Hunter College. “I don’t see them changing anything within these four or five days of recalibration. Like what are they gonna change?”
In his email, the Chancellor said the administration implemented different policies to aid students who needed computer equipment and internet access for coursework. After Governor Cuomo issued a New York State on PAUSE executive order, students in need of this technology could not access on-campus computers, so CUNY started providing loaner laptops during limited timeframes. During the recalibration period, schools will continue to buy and distribute additional hardware.
As for the new grading policy, CUNY enacted a flexible credit/no credit (CR/NC) policy, said the Chancellor. He explained students will have 20 days after receiving their grades to ask for any or all letter grades to be changed to credit/no credit if they choose. Grades of A, B, C or D will count as “credit,” meaning the student fulfilled that class for the appropriate requirement, while grades of F will count as “no credit.” Neither credit nor no credit counts towards a student’s GPA. Hunter’s usual credit/no credit policies include restrictions and prohibit CR/NC in some major courses, such as education or nursing, although it is not clear at this time whether it will allow exceptions given the unique circumstances.
Assuming it is passed by the Board of Trustees, the policy will take effect April 1. Each college should follow up about how this change will affect students’ financial aid or academic progress, said Rodríguez.
Some students such as Victoria Cecere can see themselves using the new policy. “I do appreciate the efforts from CUNY about the new credit/no credit policy because there are many students, myself included, that have trouble learning and grasping information via technology,” said Cecere, a freshman at Hunter College.
Online courses and programs can proceed with approval from campus presidents and deans, the Chancellor said. Graduate and professional schools, as well as colleges that operate under different semester schedules such as Guttman, LaGuardia and Kingsborough Community Colleges, will follow former policies and observe the original spring break period.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the translation of letter grades to CR/NC grades. Under CUNY’s spring 2020 grading policy, grades of A, B, C and D translated to CR. CUNY’s policy overrode Hunter’s CR/NC policy, which converts D grades to NC. The story has been updated to reflect this correction. The Envoy apologizes for this error.