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Spring term 2020 will continue online

We have made the difficult decision to  continue with  an alternative delivery system for Spring Term. This means that we are not going to deliver in-person course activity. All courses and exams, including graduate research milestones, will take place online.  

The spring term will start on May 11, 2020

 All courses will happen online or using alternative delivery methods  starting  May  11, 2020 – a week later than originally scheduled. 

Courses  will run for  a full 12-week term, to August 5, 2020. There will be a limited  one-week exam  period, ending, August 15, 2020, during which there may be online exams or final assessments due.

To prepare for the alternative delivery of courses, we have revised some important dates to the Spring Term.

Revised important dates to note:

  • April 2-3: Drop/Add Period begins with gradual appointments in Quest
  • April 4 to May 25: add period for all students
  • April 8: tuition fee bills viewable in Quest
  • May 11: classes and co-op work terms begin
  • May 15: deadline to pay tuition and fees or become fees arranged
  • June 1: last day to drop classes with 100% refund

Course programming

With no in-person course activity this term (with the exception of CLIN and PRA courses), all classes and exams will be online. This may mean that we will not be offering students some courses and/or labs.

Faculties and departments are working on contingency plans to allow students to complete their programs as efficiently as possible. I am grateful to instructors and staff for their extraordinary efforts to provide students with a quality learning experience during the Spring Term.

Completing winter term

In order to protect the safety of our students, employees and our community, the University of Waterloo has suspended in-person course activity for the remainder of winter term as well as spring term. We are working to ensure students get the best outcomes from their hard work so far this term.

Course activities in alternative formats began Monday, March 23

  • Instructors will provide students with information on how they will complete their courses.
  • The Centre for Extended Learning’s fully online courses will continue. 
  • The winter term's Drop with WD Period has been extended to March 30, giving students more time to make choices once course instructors have determined how courses will proceed for the remainder of the term.
  • Accordingly, the Drop with WF Period has been shifted to be March 31 to April 7, inclusive.
  • Instructors will inform students how assessment will happen.
  • The cancellation of in-person exams includes the in-person exams for fully online courses. 

Course instructors can elect to use CR or NCR in place of numeric grades

The Senate approved two motions intended to support students’ learning experience at Waterloo during these unprecedented times and to ensure that we provide equitable opportunities for students to progress in their academic studies.

Motion 1: Senate endorses that some courses originally set to use numerical grades for the Winter 2020 term will instead use CR/NCR (for all students in the course), at the discretion of the Instructor and with the approval of the Faculty.

Motion 2: For courses using numerical grading for the Winter 2020 Term, Senate directs the Registrar’s Office and the Associate Vice Presidents, Academic, and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, in consultation with the Faculties, to develop a process by which, after the completion of the Winter 2020 Term, within a specified time limit a student may convert a numerical grade to a CR/NCR without need for a Policy 70 petition.

We know that changes due to COVID-19 are difficult for many students – and instructors – to face. The changes we have made have the potential to leave some instructors with limited information about the degree to which students have shown mastery of course objectives. We also know these changes could have a negative effect on some students’ likelihood of success.

The first motion is intended to allow instructors who feel that circumstances mean that they have insufficient information to provide a numerical grade to nevertheless allow students to complete their courses and progress towards completion of their academic programs. We are still encouraging instructors to use numeric grading schemes when possible, but are introducing this as an option in the cases identified.

The second motion intends to provide some agency to students as to how the Winter 2020 term may be represented on their academic record.

Note that Policy 70 currently allows students to seek relief from an academic decision, including marks in a course, if the student can demonstrate extenuating circumstances. Our belief is that the events of Winter 2020 will, in many cases, constitute extenuating circumstances. The second motion is intended to allow the process to be simplified.

If you have any questions about these changes, please discuss with your Associate Dean.

Stay well, stay home and watch for more information

This continues to be an exceptional time. We know we need to keep taking action that will slow the spread of COVID-19. We also know we have an important job that we must keep doing.

There are people across the University community who are available to support our students along the way. We know we can’t provide you with answers to all your questions at this time, but there are people working tirelessly to make sure we can answer those questions soon.