Classrooms, Study, and Grading for Fall 2020

Spes Unica HallIn an email to students on Friday, July 10, Provost and Senior Vice President Titilayo Ufomata highlighted how academics will look for the fall 2020 semester.

“I suspect you have been wondering if or how classrooms and other academic support areas would change for the fall semester,” Ufomata wrote. “Over the summer, we’ve reimagined our entire campus so that when you arrive, you will have an engaging and purposeful academic experience, one that focuses on the safety of our community.”

Ufomata outlined several key areas in a question and answer format:

What will the classrooms look like?
For a start, the seats will be carefully spaced to maintain the physical distance recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In addition, you and your professors will be wearing a mask and you will wipe down your area and disinfect it at the start of each class period. For most classes, you will come to class with your laptop. If you do not have one, please let Gloria Jenkins, Interim VP for Student Affairs, know and we will arrange for you to get a loaner for the semester.

What will instruction look like?
Many of the classes will be face to face as usual. Some will be a mix of online and face-to-face — the online part will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. The synchronous online parts will be conducted through a live meeting program such as Collaborate that allows professors and students to see and hear each other and, most importantly, to interact in real time all together or in breakout rooms for group work. The asynchronous parts will include materials that are posted online for you to work through at your own pace. This type of hybrid learning should not be new to those of you who have participated in hybrid courses on campus in the past. A few classes will be fully online, but you will still engage with the instructor as a group, in real-time, at least once a week.

Faculty are committed to quality, discussion-based teaching. They have designed their courses with the blend best suited to safely achieve that goal. Also, to the extent possible, we will run a paperless campus to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Can I still meet with my faculty and academic advisors?
Yes! Faculty members will hold office hours virtually. When necessary, faculty will meet you in assigned rooms that are large enough to maintain appropriate physical distance. The academic advising office will also be open to meet with you in person and virtually.

What will happen if I get sick?
As we have always done, your professors will work with you to develop an individualized plan to allow you to continue being part of the class in as seamless a way as possible taking into account your physical condition, the nature of the upcoming work in the class and your individual learning style.

What other academic services will be available?
We want you to know that you will be receiving the same level of academic support that you have always had.

  • Disability Resource Office counselors will provide both in-person and virtual individual meetings. Proctored testing will be available in a larger space that will ensure adequate physical distancing.
  • The Career Crossings Office will continue to provide a full level of one-on-one services to assist students with choosing majors, exploring and discerning career paths, searching for internships and jobs, and preparing for graduate and professional school applications.
  • The Success Program will continue working with students, providing individual academic coaching and study tables.
  • The Cushwa-Leighton Library will be open with several safety protocols in place, including arranging study spaces to encourage social distancing. The circulation desk will be staffed, and library users will be able to check out books while reference consultations will be virtual. The Library will offer curbside pick-up for library users who wish to retrieve material without coming into the library.


Will I have the option for Pass/Fail grades?
Yes. We will provide flexibility regarding the deadline to declare a pass/fail grade. Normally, we would only allow a course to be counted as pass/fail if the student declared the desire for such in the first 10 days of the semester. However, we are extending the opportunity to declare one course for pass/fail grading up until November 12, 2020, the last day of classes.

What is Pass/Fail grading?
If you earn a passing grade (i.e., A-D) it will be recorded on your transcript as a pass and not factor into your GPA. If you earn a failing grade, it will be recorded as an F on your transcript and will be included in the calculation of your GPA. Students are allowed only a maximum of two courses pass/fail per semester which cannot be taken for Sophia, major or minor courses; and only a total maximum of six such courses can count toward your degree. Courses taken as pass/fail in Spring 2020 semester do not count towards this maximum. Remember also that a course taken pass/fail does not apply to the 12 graded hours required for the calculation of honors. If you have any questions about this policy please contact the advising office at

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