May 12, 2023 | NEWS | By Leigh Walden, News Editor

Sitting in Tutt Library on Colorado College’s campus is casual again. Students can meet up to talk, study, snack, cough, laugh, sneeze, and collaborate without worry. In spring of 2023, many Colorado College students have fully returned to a pre-COVID-19 college experience. As the United States starts to march out of their restrictions and concerns for the pandemic, CC is being faced with how, when, and if to remove some Pandemic-era policies. One such policy is the grade track change policy.

The grade track change policy currently stipulates that a student can change the way they’re being graded from letter grades to pass/fail (or vice versa) up till Fourth Tuesday. This change was made as a COVID-19 precaution to allow students more time to make this change within the Block during a period where so many were facing uncertainty.

Before COVID-19, the grade track change policy had a much shorter deadline; students had to decide to change how they were being graded by the first Thursday of the Block. There was room in this policy for unforeseen circumstances later in the Block, but after the fourth day those changes needed to be approved.

Right now, students can still choose to change from pass/fail to letter grades or vice versa up till Fourth Tuesday without having to consult other college professionals. The Curriculum Executive Committee has unanimously decided to support the current policy to be adopted as permanent. Now the decision moves forward to a vote for full faculty that will happen late in Block 8.

For some students making the current policy permanent makes a lot of sense. By nature, the Block Plan moves quickly, and for some classes it’s hard for students to gauge their standing before even the fourth week of the Block. Aidan Boyd ’25, who changed his grading track in a block where he got COVID-19, believes that the current policy being adopted long term makes sense.

“The original rule … was no time at all,” Boyd said, “I think it makes sense to actually have some time to think about those decisions or if something’s not going right at the beginning of the block or something bad happens mid-block to be able to just decide then that your capacity’s changing.”

Luke Ortiz-Grabe ’25 has had similar experiences using the current grading track change policy with positive outcomes. He changed his grading track in the middle of a course after getting sick, while also having a concussion. Ortiz-Grabe said “You don’t really know how the block is going to go in the first three days. So, having the flexibility of it all is good. I think it’s just a nice policy and I don’t think people abuse it that often either.”

For both students, there was a distinct need to use the policy because of COVID-19, but they recognized that a lot of components that make the policy make sense haven’t disappeared. Students still get sick on the Block Plan or have other unexpected circumstances pop up that change how they encounter the three-and-a-half weeks within their class.

This policy was not proposed to last long term at CC. No member of the Curriculum Executive Committee wanted to go on the record regarding this story, but they did share privately that the current policy will lapse by next fall unless made permanent by faculty.

Faculty will have the final say on how late CC students will be able to make the decision to change their grading track. Though this issue may appear smaller to some, it is just one example of CC still navigating through the return from the Pandemic.

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