Updates on Pass/Fail Policy for Spring 2020

March 26, 2020

Dear Eastman Faculty and Students,

Over the last few days we have received a range of comments and questions on the recently announced Pass/Fail policy for Spring 2020. Under this policy, all courses transitioned to the Pass/Fail grading option as of March 23, with students allowed to select a letter grade (A-E) option for any/all of their courses through submitting a formal request. We continue to believe that this is the best approach to assist students and instructors in navigating the transition to online courses and the broader situation with COVID-19.

It is with this intent that we have made the decision to extend the deadline for students to select the letter grade option to April 10. This decision is in response to the concerns expressed by some students, faculty, and staff that students would need some additional time to adjust to the online version of courses. We will continue to monitor how students and instructors are adapting to their new circumstances moving forward.

In addition, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of instructors and students pulling together to achieve the original learning outcomes of the courses to the greatest degree possible. The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted the semester and we know that the new Pass/Fail policy may create some additional challenges. However, we firmly believe in the dedication of our instructors and the resiliency of our students. We strongly encourage all instructors to design exams, papers, and other assessments in ways consonant with the current online learning environment and that ensure student learning regardless of the grading basis (pass/fail or letter grade) of the student. On their side, students should commit to achieving course goals to the highest degree possible in their current environment and actively reach out for assistance from instructors, advisors, and other support staff when necessary.

Finally, we want to clarify a few important points regarding the new policy. We have released a FAQ to answer some common questions on the Pass/Fail system for Spring 2020, but these points bear special note:

  • The S/F policy for Spring 2020 applies to all courses taken by undergraduates at Eastman and the College, as well as all graduate courses at Eastman, AS&E, Warner, and other professional schools.
  • The webform to select the letter grade option for courses in Spring 2020 will be released shortly. Links to the form will be emailed to students and posted on the Registrar’s Office site (http://www.esm.rochester.edu/registrar/).
  • Faculty will receive a list of students selecting the letter grade option during the week of April 13.
  • Faculty will submit “pass” or “fail” grades directly into Instructor Access.  The grade submitted for “pass” will be “P” and the grade for “fail” will be “F” in Spring 2020. These are the grades that will appear on student transcripts as well.


As always, we appreciate your dedication and willingness to adapt to the evolving situation with COVID-19. We continue to feel confident that we can ensure the success of our students and the achievement of our educational goals in these challenging times.  We will continue to support these efforts as we move forward with the semester.

All the best,

Donna Brink Fox
Senior Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs

John Hain
Associate Dean of Academic and International Affairs