The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the everyday routines of millions of people. As preventive measures such as social distancing and the closure of all nonessential businesses continue to be implemented, individuals are forced to navigate unprecedented obstacles. Students of MSU and campuses around the world are no exception. On Wednesday, March 18, MSU announced they would be moving all their classes online for the rest of the spring semester. 

For the remainder of spring break, the anxiety of remote learning loomed. Now, the first week has passed and students have had the first taste of their “new” classes. While hopefully, everyone can adapt to these new changes, the campus and faculty understand that these are strange times we are living in. They are committed to ensuring students will still have the opportunities, resources and guidance needed to succeed.

That’s why on Sunday, March 22, the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost sent an email to the student body announcing that MSU was implementing an expanded Pass/Fail (P/F) grading option for all undergraduate courses for the spring 2020 semester.

The Pass/Fail grading option gives students the choice to trade any number of their classes’ assigned letter grades for a “pass” for all grades marked C- or higher. The “Pass” mark will not be factored toward student's GPA’s, but will indeed count toward earned semester hours. MSU will also include a special designation on transcripts making note of the extraordinary circumstances of the current times. Students wishing to exchange their letter grades for a P/F mark must submit the form available on the University Registrar’s website no later than five calendar days after final grades have been posted at the conclusion of the spring semester. MSU hopes these changes will offer flexibility to students struggling with the online format. This option is voluntary, and students who want their normal letter grade will be allowed to keep it for all or select classes if they so choose.

Tracy Ellig, Vice President of Communications at MSU, shared that right now there are two important tasks for students: “Take social distancing and the governor’s stay-at-home directive very seriously to help slow the spread of this pandemic.” On Saturday, March 28, Governor Steve Bullock’s stay-at-home directive went into effect, requiring all non-essential businesses and operations to be suspended. Public and private gatherings of any number of people are also prohibited outside of a household or place of residence. 

The second most important task for students is to maintain open communications with their instructors. “If you have a question, email your faculty,” says Ellig. “If you need help, reach out.” Campus services are still available to students through email, phone or online. These include the services of the Writing Center, the Math Learning Center, SmartyCats tutoring, counseling and academic advising. MSU faculty and staff are working hard to make many campus resources continually available to ensure student success as courses move to various online forums. If you are struggling adjusting to online classes, feel reassured in the fact that you can make any or all of your courses Pass/Fail if you don’t pull the letter grade you were hoping for.