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COVID-19 Academic Senate Updates

Academic Senate Guidance for Changes in Campus Operating Status

The information on this page is a summary of temporary changes approved and guidance provided by the Academic Senate due to changes in campus operating status during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please contact Senate Associate Director Lori Hullings (lhullings@ucsd.edu) with questions. 

For updates on campus operating status and educational continuity, visit UC San Diego COVID-19 Information and COVID-19 Academic Affairs FAQs and Resources.

Spring 2020 Instruction

Remote Delivery of Courses

The Senate approved the temporary delivery of conventional courses via telepresence, including lectures, course documents, assignments, and exams. The courses will still be conventional courses, not R-courses.

  • The Educational Policy Committee (EPC) approved on March 13, 2020 a request from the Chancellor for a one-time emergency exception to EPC’s Policy on Distance Education to allow for the use of remote instruction for the entire duration of Spring 2020 due to the current public health emergency associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate's decision was based on the following:

  • Per EPC's policy, the requirements for in-person instruction in conventional (not R) courses may be suspended for the duration of five weeks. It was determined that instructors are able to utilize remote delivery (alternative technologies) for up to 50% of a course’s scheduled interaction time (the equivalent of five weeks) in a conventional course, without requiring Senate approval. 
  • If an emergency extends beyond five weeks, the Chancellor may submit a request to the Senate Chair for a limited-term exception to extend the approval for up to five weeks. The request may not exceed five weeks.

Pass/No Pass (P/NP) and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades

It is important that students are informed about the full implications of their grading option and course enrollment choices. The Senate encourages instructors and instructional assistants to make clear that students should consult with their department and college advisors and financial aid advisors about their individual circumstances prior to any final election for their grading options or course schedule.

The Academic Senate’s Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and Senate Council do not support approving any blanket exceptions that would require all undergraduate and graduate courses to be offered on a P/NP or S/U basis in Spring 2020. 

In order to provide more flexibility to students who prefer taking courses on a P/NP or S/U basis in Spring 2020, Senate Council approved on March 19, 2020, the following limited-term exceptions to Senate Regulations related to P/NP and S/U grades, as proposed by EPC. 

  • A one-time exception to the San Diego Senate Regulation on the P/NP grade limit (500.D.1) to exempt all P/NP courses taken during Spring 2020 from the 25% limit on the number of UCSD units that undergraduate students are allowed to complete on a P/NP basis. P/NP courses completed during Spring 2020 should be removed from both the numerator and denominator when calculating the percentage of courses taken on a P/NP basis.
  • A one-time exception to San Diego Senate Regulations on P/NP and S/U grades (500.D.2 and 500.E.6) to extend the deadlines for undergraduate and graduate students to register on a P/NP or S/U basis to the end of the finals week (June 12) in Spring 2020.

The Undergraduate and Graduate Councils authorized allowing departments and colleges to offer undergraduate and graduate courses approved with the grading option of "Letter Grade Only" on a P/NP or S/U basis. This is a one-time exception for Spring 2020.

Additional Information for Temporary Changes in Pass/No Pass (P/NP) and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading

  • Senate Council supports allowing departments, programs, and colleges to relax letter grade requirements when possible.
    • Many departments, programs, and colleges require courses applied to the major or general education requirements to be taken on a letter grade basis. It is up to the individual departments and colleges to decide whether to make an exception to their requirements and allow courses taken on a P/NP or S/U basis to apply towards major or degree requirements. To the extent possible, Senate Council strongly encourages departments, programs, and colleges to relax letter grade requirements for major courses, degree requirements, and prerequisites during Spring 2020 as such actions have the potential to mitigate stress and anxiety among students.
  • Instructors may not require that all students enroll in their course on a P/NP or S/U basis.
    • Senate Council's approval to relax the current requirements for enrollment on a P/NP or S/U basis is not a license for an instructor to require that all students must register for their course on a P/NP basis in a course that allows for letter grade or P/NP grading. These accommodations are being made to afford flexibility to students. 

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping, and Withdrawing from Courses

Senate Council approved on March 19, 2020 extending the following deadlines for adding and dropping courses and withdrawals (San Diego Senate Regulation 501) as a limited-term exception for Spring 2020. These deadlines are being extended to support students and faculty adjusting to remote instruction.
  • Deadline to Add a Course:
    • The deadline for both undergraduate and graduate students to add a course is extended from the end of the second week of instruction to the end of the third week of instruction.
  • Deadline to Drop a Course without a W grade or Withdraw from the Quarter without W grades:
    • The deadline for both undergraduate and graduate students to drop a course or all courses without a W grade on the transcript (i.e. a drop without a W grade) is extended from the end of the fourth week of instruction to the end of the fifth week of instruction. 
  • Deadline to Drop a Course with a W grade or Withdraw from the Quarter with W grades:
    • The deadline for undergraduate students to drop a course or all courses, with the assignment of a W grade(s), is extended from the end of the sixth week of instruction to the end of the seventh week of instruction.
    • The deadline for graduate students to drop a course or all courses, with the assignment of a W grade(s), is the end of the ninth week of instruction (no change).
    • An undergraduate student may petition to drop a course or withdraw from the University for emergency reasons after the end of the seventh week of instruction and before the end of the tenth week of instruction. For such petitions, approval may be granted by the appropriate provost for undergraduate students.
    • A graduate student may petition to drop a course of withdraw from the University for emergency reasons after the end of the ninth week of instruction and before the end of the tenth week of instruction. For such petitions, approval may be granted by the Dean of the Graduate Division.

Additional Information for Temporary Changes to Enrollment Deadlines

  • As Spring 2020 progresses, instructors are reminded to be mindful about providing feedback at multiple points during the quarter.
    • It is important that students are able to make informed decisions about their course enrollments.

Final Exams During Remote Instruction

The Educational Policy Committee (EPC) provides the following guidance to instructors with regard to the end of the quarter and final exams. The COVID-19 situation is highly unusual, and under these circumstances, the Senate Policy on Examinations might be confusing. EPC's guidance on final exams, including existing policy and areas where there are opportunities for flexibility can be found below. 

Please also see the June 3, 2020 Academic Senate notice, Support for Students During Finals.

The following requirements remain in effect:

  • Final examinations are required in all undergraduate courses, unless the Undergraduate Council (UGC) has approved an alternative on the course approval form. Consequently, if a course has a scheduled final exam, instructors must provide some type of final assessment in keeping with this requirement; it is not permissible to cancel the exam or base students' grades on any alternate arrangement.
    • Final examinations in undergraduate courses may not be given at any time before examination week without explicit approval from the Undergraduate Council (UGC).
    • An instructor may administer an examination at an alternative time to individual students if a valid reason is given by the student for not taking the regularly scheduled examination.
    • No student may be excused from assigned final examinations.
    • No instructor may require a "take-home" final examination or any final examination be turned in before the date and hour at which the examination for the course was scheduled by the Registrar's Office.

Areas where flexibility may be exercised:

Instructors should consider student challenges when deciding on a final exam strategy. Examples include time zone differences (maybe vastly different), internet issues, technical issues, and a myriad of unforeseen circumstances that may crop up with students participating remotely from all around the globe. Flexibility and understanding are important. EPC has determined that the following flexibility is allowable under the circumstances with remote instruction:
  • Instructors may substitute a take-home exam or other assignment for a final exam. This substitute may not be due before the date and hour at which the examination for the course was scheduled by the Registrar's Office.
  • Instructors may hold a final exam online.
    • An online final exam may not exceed three hours duration and instructors are required to make the exam available during the date and hour at which the examination for the course was scheduled by the Registrar's Office. Instructors should be mindful that unforeseen circumstances may arise and that students may have difficulty submitting the exam in the allotted time period due to a variety of technical issues. Reasonable accommodation for students is appreciated.
    • Final exams designed as "take-home" exams may exceed three hours duration. Instructors are reminded that students are completing exams in multiple courses during final exam week and to please be sensitive to the challenges our students are facing.
    • Instructors may offer asynchronous final exams and are allowed to open a final exam earlier than the date and hour scheduled by the Registrar's Office, without approval from the Undergraduate Council. However, the final may not be made available before the start of finals week and it should not be made due until the end of the regularly scheduled final exam session. It is very important to clearly communicate to all students in a course when the final will be available.
    • Instructors are not required to be physically present for the duration of the exam. However, it is highly desirable under the circumstances that the instructor is available (remotely) in some fashion so that students can ask questions during the exam.
    • While it is not required that all exams are offered asynchronously, instructors are asked to please be mindful of the unique needs of students during the crisis and to promote equity during the exam period. In the event that a synchronous exam is scheduled, reasonable student requests for asynchronous exams or make-up options should be accommodated.

For more information on remote assessment and proctoring, please visit the Teaching + Learning Commons' webpage.

Telepresence for Graduate Master's and Doctoral Examinations 

Due to the current exceptional circumstances related to the spread of COVID-19, the Graduate Council authorized a limited-term exception to the general rules approved by the Graduate Council on October 8, 2018 for how Master’s and doctoral committee members conduct master’s thesis defenses and doctoral qualifying exams and defenses. Effective through the end of Fall Quarter 2020, any and/or all members of a master’s or doctoral committee or the student being examined may be telepresent (meaning participation by live video teleconference) for a thesis defense, qualifying examination and final oral examination (the dissertation defense). If these circumstances remain in effect beyond the end of Fall Quarter 2020, the Graduate Council may authorize an extension upon request by the Dean of the Graduate Division or Chancellor.

Doctoral Time Limits

The Graduate Council approved extending time limits by one quarter for all current doctoral students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council noted that the extensions to allow for additional time and eligibility for funding but do not per se provide additional or continued funding, as funding availability is not the purview of the Graduate Council.

Summer 2020 Instruction

Remote Delivery of Courses

The Educational Policy Committee (EPC) approved on April 2, 2020 a request from the Chancellor for a one-time emergency exception to EPC’s Policy on Distance Education to allow for the use of remote instruction for the entire duration of Summer 2020 due to the current public health emergency associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fall 2020 Instruction

Remote Delivery of Courses

The Educational Policy Committee (EPC) approved on May 10, 2020 a request from the Chancellor for a one-time emergency exception to EPC’s Policy on Distance Education to allow for the use of remote instruction in Fall 2020 as part of a flexible instruction plan due to the current public health emergency associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.