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Taylor Johnston and Ellen Wagner make important decisions about the Post in the editors' office on the evening of Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

Editorial: Students are still living through a pandemic. Bring back the S grade.

Most of us have felt it by now. 

You’re sitting in a classroom for your first in-person exam in 18 months. There’s no computer, and there’s no comfort of being in your bedroom — it’s just you, pencil and test. 

For nearly all freshmen and sophomores at Ohio University, their last in-person exam was back in high school. Those students are now forced to adapt to a situation that no other college student has faced before them. It’s like being thrown into the deep end for the first time and being expected to swim. 

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on college students across the country, with the number of people who report feelings of depression and anxiety rising dramatically. Fatigue has set in, and it feels like the pandemic might last forever. It is for that reason students at OU should be offered some type of relief from the stressors of their course load. 

Enter the return of the Satisfactory/No Credit grading system.

In March 2020, when the world changed, so did OU. The university gave most students the opportunity to opt-in to an alternative grading system for certain classes. Instead of As, Bs, Cs and so on, one could simply choose to get a “satisfactory” grade for a course if they earned a C- or higher. If a student fell below the C- threshold, they could opt to get “no credit” for the course. Both options had no impact on a student’s GPA, only their credit. 

Offering the S/NC system was a sign of grace from OU, recognizing how the pandemic was pulling students in different directions mentally, physically and emotionally.

During the 2021 Spring Semester, that same grace was eventually realized. There was a period of indecision from OU’s Academic Policy and Process group before the eventual announcement of the S/NC grading system returning with a more “robust” exemption process. Students made petitions to make their thoughts on the need for the alternative grading system known, one of which racked up over 1,000 signatures before the decision was announced. 

As of Wednesday, OU’s website still has the S/NC deadlines for Spring Semester posted, and there is no indication from the university that the S/NC option will be available this fall. This comes as students are continuing to live through a pandemic and taking some courses online while new COVID-19 cases are being reported within Athens County on a daily basis.

Many — if not all — of the same factors impacting students these past two semesters remain. There is still a fear of contracting COVID-19, and there are still classes to balance alongside jobs and internships. Now, many student organizations and other time commitments are coming back in full force, taking up even more of students’ time. We continue to be spread thin while living through historical, unprecedented times, and the combination of trying to push students back to normal academic practices while not offering them the same academic support is damaging. We need a smoother transition.

S/NC options aren’t viewed as a reason to give up trying. They’re simply a breath of fresh air. If OU truly cares about its students, it will prioritize their mental health during this endlessly hectic time. 

It only takes five seconds for a student to discover they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or to get the dreaded email from Vault with a positive test result, inevitably causing their mindset to plummet. The good news? It only takes one easy decision from the university to make the after-effects — clouded mental health, missed classes and more — less strenuous.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Abby Miller, Managing Editor Bre Offenberger and Digital Managing Editor Matt Geiger. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage. 

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