Secondary students in the Alpine School District will not receive failing grades during the fourth quarter of the school year, the district’s board of education heard from ASD officials April 21.
“No student will be harmed because the circumstances that we are in that are out of their control,” Rhonda Bromley, an assistant superintendent for the Alpine School District, told its board of education during an April 21 business meeting.
The district’s more than 80,000 students have been transitioned to online learning since the middle of March due to the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak, with the soft closure of schools planned to continue through the end of the academic year.
Bromley presented a report to the board outlining the district’s plan for secondary schools, which will apply to students in seventh through 12th grades.
No F grades will be given during the fourth quarter, only grades A through C. Any grade below a C will be assigned a “pass” grade, which still gives students credit for the course without impacting their grade point average. Students who receive a C or above grade will be able to choose between keeping their grade or getting a “pass” grade.
No assignments will be given after May 12, except for review work in Advanced Placement classes as those students prepare for AP exams. Students will have until May 19 to turn in work, and all late work will be accepted up until that date. “The goal is to keep students engaged, keep them working for something, keep them working for their higher grade if that is what their goal is,” Bromley said.
Grades will be updated by May 21 to give students the ability to declare if they want their letter grade or a “pass.” Bromley said some students haven’t been as engaged in their coursework as schools would like during the online learning process, while others have thrived.
“We have from one extreme to the other,” Bromley told the board.
ASD looked to what other districts across the country are doing in response to COVID-19 shutdowns while formulating its plan. Bromley said the district found a variety of responses nationwide and hopes the plan will help with stress, anxiety, and depression.
The Alpine School District Board of Education voiced support for the plan.
“I really love the ‘no harm’ approach,” Sarah Beeson, a board member, said. “I think that’s the right way to go.”
Julie King, a member of the board of education, said the plan demonstrates mercy instead of imposing penalties for students.
“I think it is absolutely the right path to take, that we are showing grace to not only our students but to our parents and our teachers,” King said.
Board members mentioned that there can be multiple reasons why some students aren’t turning in assignments and engaging in classes, which can vary from technology issues, to stress, to working to support their families during the pandemic, to babysitting younger siblings.
“We have no way of knowing what is going on in a lot of these homes,” said board member Amber Bonner.
The district referred to teachers — who had two days to prepare for the transition to online learning — as some of the pandemic’s unsung heroes.
“A lot of them are burning the midnight oil every single night just trying to make it work for the kids,” said Sara Hacken, a member of the board. “I wish there was a way we could thank teachers appropriately.”