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Compassionate measures intended to help students cope with pandemic

Read a message from Anne Whitelaw, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic
December 3, 2020
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By Anne Whitelaw

Dear colleagues,

Last month I shared in a note to the Concordia community my concern that the ongoing pandemic was having a worrying impact on the anxiety levels of many Concordians.

Students appear to be among those hardest hit by the feelings of physical and social isolation that can accompany living and learning remotely over a prolonged period of time. With the winter months looming and health directives continuing to advise against social gatherings, that sense of isolation could soon be exacerbated.

With this in mind, Concordia has developed a number of compassionate measures intended to support those students who might be struggling and could benefit from options regarding final assessments.

As outlined on Concordia’s website, these options are available to undergraduate students and graduate students, and apply to both the fall 2020 and winter 2021 terms as exceptional measures intended to ease pandemic-related stress in these extraordinary times. We will begin communicating them to students later today.

As a first measure, we will be allowing students the option to convert one of their courses to a pass/fail notation in each of the fall and winter terms. All fails will automatically be converted to a DISC with the exception of courses for which the student has been sanctioned for an academic code violation. It bears noting that not all courses will be eligible for a pass notation. We are working with departments as well as accreditation and professional bodies to finalize that list.

We are also simplifying the process by which students may request that exams be deferred. For many students, knowing that they can select an exam to write at a later date will allow them to focus their energies on other final assessments.

Responding to requests for additional time for all other assignments (whether they be term papers, take-home exams, final creative projects or performances) remains at the discretion of the professor. That said, we urge faculty members to be as flexible and compassionate as possible, given these unprecedented circumstances.

Graduate students have access to all the options above, as well as greater flexibility when it comes to deadlines for Comprehensive Exams and Proposals, the application of IP and IPM notations and Time Limit Extensions. More details on options available to graduate students can be found here.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your ongoing dedication to supporting student success and for your continuous efforts in adapting your classes for remote delivery. The measures we are launching are no reflection on the quality of remote instruction at Concordia. Rather, they are intended to mitigate the effect of external factors beyond our control, and to recognize that not all students have the optimal learning environment that will allow them to succeed to their full potential during the pandemic.

Should you have any questions or comments, I encourage you to reach out to your departmental chair.

Keep well, and take care of each other,


Anne Whitelaw
Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic




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