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About Virginia Western :: College Policies

I-68: VCCS Policy Exceptions due to COVID-19

Policy Number: I-68
Last Reviewed: June 18, 2020
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs

A signed copy of this policy is available in the President's Office.

The following policy exceptions have been made to VCCS policy due to COVID-19.

A. VCCS Policy 6.4.0.2 Placement of New Students

Because colleges have closed testing centers to minimize students' presence on campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chancellor has temporarily suspended the portions of placement policy 6.4.0.2 related to the Virginia Placement Test and authorizes each college president to work with his or her math and English faculty to determine appropriate processes and procedures for enrolling and placing students. This temporary suspension of policy is effective until further notice.

(Memorandum #7 to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, March 17, 2020)

B. VCCS Policy 6.6.3 Admission and Placement of New Dual Enrollment Students

The Chancellor has temporarily approved a modification to VCCS Policy 6.6.3, Dual Enrollment Student Admissions, that adds flexibility to use additional measures for dual enrollment admission and placement. 

For rising high school juniors and seniors who have not already taken the VPT or who do not have access to other test scores (Compass, Asset, PSAT, SAT, ACT, SOL), colleges are encouraged to use the Dual Enrollment COVID-19 Emergency Admission and Placement Procedures, outlined below, for enrolling students in summer and fall 2020 terms:

Dual Enrollment COVID-19 Emergency Admission and Placement Measures
Rising Junior or Rising Senior
Cumulative High School GPA*
Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 Eligible for Placement in:
English
2.00-2.99 ENG 115 or ENG 131
3.00 or greater ENG 115, ENG 131, or ENG 111
Math
2.00 - 2.99 MTH 101-130
3.00 or greater without Algebra 2 MTH 101-130, 132, MTH 154, or MTH 155
3.0 or greater with Algebra 2 MTH 101-133, MTH 154, MTH 155, MTH 161 or MTH 167

* Cumulative GPA may be weighted or unweighted and may be self-reported.

Please note the following:

  • The Dual Enrollment Emergency Admission and Placement Measures are consistent with VCCS Multiple Measures Policy 6.4.0.2.
  • These emergency procedures apply to rising high school and home school juniors and seniors enrolling in summer and fall 2020 terms.
  • We encourage colleges to create an Advising Form to gather information about Algebra 2 completion and GPA for students who cannot provide transcript information.
  • We do not have GPA guidance for admission and placement of freshmen and sophomores, and we ask that colleges continue to determine their college readiness on a case-by-case basis, per Policy 6.6.3.
  • Documentation of parental permission remains as a requirement for all dual enrollment students.
  • Colleges may not enroll high school or home school students in developmental education courses.

(Memorandum #8 to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, March 18, 2020)

C. VCCS Policy 3.8.4 Teaching Overloads

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many of you are adjusting faculty schedules and workload to ensure classes may be completed online and in a timely fashion. VCCS Policy 3.8.4 Teaching Overloads states, "…the college president has the authority to develop optional overload plans; such plans shall be developed in consultation with the faculty and must be approved by the Chancellor."  In order to allow college presidents maximum flexibility to ensure continuity of instruction and promote student completion, the Chancellor is delegating full authority to college presidents to develop optional overload plans without additional approval for spring semester 2020. Please note that this is a one-time discretionary waiver due to the exigent circumstances brought on by the Governor's declaration of a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

(Memorandum #10 to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, March 20, 2020)

D. Withdrawal Deadline Exception

Given the inequities in broadband access that our students are encountering as instruction moves online, their possible unfamiliarity with the online learning environment, and the unknown negative impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic during the remainder of spring semester, Chancellor DuBois has extended the deadline to withdraw without penalty to the spring semester course end date. This extension will not impact Return-to-Title-IV.

Effective immediately and for the remainder of spring semester, a student who withdraws or is withdrawn after the add/drop period but before the course end date shall be assigned a grade of "W."

This ruling does not impact assignment of the "I" grade. A student who has satisfactorily completed more than 60% of the course and attendance requirements may request an "Incomplete" and, if approved by the faculty member, be given the opportunity to satisfy the requirements for completion of the course in the subsequent semester, per VCCS Policy 5.6.0.

(Memorandum #11 to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, March 23, 2020)

E. Temporary Authority to Move Forward Items that Require Local College Board Approval

Because local boards cannot meet without a quorum of the members physically present in one location during the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, a question has been raised about matters that require local board approval, such as new programs. On the advice of System Counsel Greer Saunders, the Chancellor grants temporary authority to presidents to move forward with items that require VCCS staff or State Board approval. This temporary authority will extend until local boards can reconvene.

Ms. Greer recommends that presidents notify board members that they will move items forward and will fully brief the board members at their next meeting. Further, communications to board members should be via mailed correspondence rather than by email.

(Memorandum #11 to VCCS Presidents from Sharon Morrissey, May 5, 2020)

Because local boards cannot meet without a quorum of the members physically present in one location during the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, a question has been raised about matters that require local board approval, such as new programs. On the advice of System Counsel Greer Saunders, the Chancellor grants temporary authority to presidents to move forward with items that require VCCS staff or State Board approval. This temporary authority will extend until local boards can reconvene.
Ms. Greer recommends that presidents notify board members that they will move items forward and will fully brief the board members at their next meeting. Further, communications to board members should be via mailed correspondence rather than by email.
(Memorandum #11 to VCCS Presidents from Sharon Morrissey, May 5, 2020)

F. Spring Semester 2020 Grading Policy

The COVID-19 emergency, and the resulting closure of college campuses and transition to online instruction, has created access and learning challenges for many VCCS students. To ensure that students' academic progress is not adversely impacted this semester, Chancellor DuBois is instituting a default Pass/Withdraw/Incomplete grading scale for Spring Semester, with the option to allow students to request their earned letter grades. This grading policy supports students' progress toward degree requirements and is compliant with federal and state financial aid guidelines.

Policy Guidance:
  1. Courses that have already ended, such as first session 8-week courses, will follow the standard grading scale.
  2. All courses that have not reached the course end date by April 6, 2020, will use the following grading scale:
    P+ Pass with a grade of "C" or higher Applies to college transfer, technical education, and developmental courses. A grade of P+ will not impact a student's GPA.
    P- Pass with a grade of "D" Applies to college transfer, technical education, and developmental courses. A grade of P- will not impact a student's GPA.

    W

    WC

    Withdraw

    Withdraw/COVID-19

    A student may withdraw up until the last day of instruction without penalty. See VCCS Policy 5.6.0 and COVID-19 Guidance Message 11.

    A faculty member may award a WC for a student who did not initiate the withdrawal.

    I Incomplete Colleges have local flexibility to waive the requirement that students must complete 60% of course competencies and attendance requirements in order to receive a grade of Incomplete. Colleges may allow students up to two semesters to complete the requirements for the course.
  3. Each college must develop internal business processes to allow a student to request his/her earned letter grade/s (A, B, C, D, F). Requests must be submitted by not later than the last day of class instruction (prior to administering the final exam or project for the course). A student may submit only one grade request per course, and the request is not revocable. The college must maintain documentation of a student's request for earned letter grades.
  4. Presidents are responsible for developing internal business processes, communicating this information to students, and ensuring adherence to this policy guidance. Presidents have flexibility to approve limited exceptions to address local situations that are not addressed by this policy guidance.
Policy Implementation
  • To the extent possible, System Office IT staff will add the P+ and P- options to all course grading scales for spring semester 2020. For Spring Semester 2020 courses, the grading options in SIS will be A, B, C, D, F, W, WC, I, P+, or P-.
  • A grade of P+ or P- will not impact a student's GPA, Satisfactory Academic Progress, or Degree Audit processes.
  • A transcript notation for Spring 2020 will document the grade definitions for P+ and P-. For college transfer courses, the P+ grade indicates that the student has completed the course with a grade of C or higher.
  • Awarding a grade of W may impact some students who are receiving benefits, i.e., post 9-11 GI Bill benefits. Colleges should recommend that these students consult with an advisor to discuss opting into the standard grading scale in order to maintain their benefits.
  • This grading policy applies to uncompleted dual enrollment courses. Dual enrollment instructors should report grades as required to the high school. College grades should be reported following this policy guidance.
  • This grading policy guidance is effective only for Spring Semester 2020.

(Memorandum #14 to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, March 26, 2020)

G. COVID-19 Guidance Message 15: Faculty Workload Flexibility

Among the recommendations submitted by the Beyond the Pandemic Task Force, colleges are encouraged to "Allow flexibility in faculty workload adjustments due to class schedule changes." The following guidance discusses the flexibility already available in policy and provides a temporary waiver to VCCS Policy 3.8.4 and Policy 3.8.2.

Workload Adjustments for Full-time Teaching Faculty

Certain existing, relevant VCCS policies already permit the type of flexibility recommended by the BTP Task Force.  For example, VCCS Policy 3.5.0, Teaching Load, includes the following provisions for full-time faculty:

A faculty teaching load may also be adjusted by the college to take into consideration such factors as the use of instructional assistance, team teaching, the use of non-traditional instructional delivery systems, special assignments, and curriculum development.  

Teaching-load adjustments shall be expressed in terms of an equivalent teaching load for the purpose of computing a faculty member's total teaching load.

Pursuant to this policy, colleges may wish to consider adjustments to full-time faculty teaching loads to acknowledge additional workload demands and/or contact hours for non-traditional instructional delivery strategies necessitated by social distancing or other mitigation measures employed in the interest of student and faculty safety and health precautions.

Such teaching load adjustments shall be expressed in terms of equivalent teaching load normally associated with the corresponding course description (credits, workload credits, and contact hours).

Workload Adjustments for Full-time Teaching Faculty Summer Pay

Effective for Summer Session, 2020 and until further notice, colleges may incorporate adjustments to full-time faculty teaching loads to acknowledge additional workload demands and/or contact hours for non-traditional instructional delivery strategies necessitated by social distancing or other mitigation measures employed in the interest of student and faculty safety and health precautions.

Such teaching load adjustments shall be expressed in terms of equivalent teaching load normally associated with the corresponding course description (credits, workload credits, and contact hours).

Workload Adjustments for Adjunct Faculty

As stated in VCCS Policy 3.0.8, adjunct faculty workloads are governed by the equivalent workload credit hour limits established in the Virginia Manpower Control Program, Section 4-7.0.1 of the Code of Virginia:

Code of Virginia 4-7.0.1 (paragraph g): Adjunct faculty at institutions of higher education may not work more than 29 hours per week on average over a twelve- month period, including classroom or other instructional time plus additional hours determined by the institution as necessary to perform the adjunct faculty's duties.

The VCCS has established that compliance with this mandate is achieved by limiting adjunct faculty to no more than 80% of a fulltime workload per semester (12 workload credits in the fall semester, 12 workload credits in the spring semester, and 8 workload credits in the summer session).

Adjustments to adjunct faculty teaching loads to acknowledge additional workload demands and/or contact hours for non-traditional instructional delivery strategies necessitated by social distancing or other mitigation measures employed in the interest of student and faculty safety and health precautions are permissible.  However, such adjustments must be expressed in terms of equivalent teaching load normally associated with the corresponding course description (credits, workload credits, and contact hours) and the resulting workloads may not exceed the workload credit and average weekly work hour limits set forth in the Code of Virginia and VCCS Policy.

Temporary Relaxation of Overload Limits for Full-time Teaching Faculty

VCCS policy 3.8.4 prescribes the maximum allowable overload for full-time teaching faculty as follows:  A faculty member may be offered a teaching overload not exceeding ten (10) credit hours for pay per academic year (fall and spring semesters).

In addition, VCCS Policy 3.8.2 prescribes the maximum allowable overload for full-time teaching faculty as follows:  Faculty may be offered a teaching overload of not more than three credit hours or equivalent during the summer term.

Effective for Summer Session 2020, Fall Session 2020, and Spring Session 2021, colleges are authorized to develop optional overload plans to allow faculty to receive pay for overload credits in excess of those prescribed above.       

(Memorandum #15 to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, May 15, 2020)

H. Payment for Professional Duties beyond regular contractual requirements

After reviewing the rare circumstances under which this might occur, we agreed that SBCC HR policy 3.8.10 which may be used for other professional duties beyond regular classroom instruction could also be applied in these circumstances.

3.8.10 Payment for Professional Duties and Consulting 

Purpose: Payments are only to be used in conjunction with Policy 3.8.9 Professional Duties and Consulting; all provisions of that policy must be met. This policy provides a method to pay eligible faculty for their provision of professional services such as consulting or conducting workshops as needed by a college or the System Office.  A payment agreement must be entered into between the faculty member and the college or System Office receiving services (the policy further references the compensation provisions contained in the complete policy which is attached for reference).

This policy may be applied under certain "Exceptional Circumstances" by the employing college defined as "an event of such magnitude that a clear and distinct disruption of the standard instructional activities has occurred, resulting in additional time for student's to complete non-classroom course requirements outside of the regular academic calendar through no fault of their own or the faculty member". 

The proposed professional duties must clearly require additional work beyond the faculty member's regular contractual requirements that occurred during the term in which the exceptional circumstances occurred.

This policy would not apply for faculty to complete regular classroom instruction for students to complete courses. Each college should set parameters to identify the faculty who would fall within the category of "exceptional circumstance" and determine the payment amount within the guidelines.  As with all compensation actions, these would be subject to  funds availability within each College's budget. 

(Memorandum Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, May 12, 2020)

I. Practical Nursing Pre-requisite Exception

Because of the extenuating circumstances caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent impact on students' program progression, I will approve VWCC's request for an exception to allow the PNG courses identified in your email below to be taught as co-requisites instead of prerequisites. However, I make this exception with the expectation that VWCC faculty organize the curriculum in such a way to ensure that students who enter the clinical sites are prepared for the clinical experience. Further, I expect VWCC to monitor students' success in the corequisite model for fall semester before continuing the corequisite model for spring semester. It is my expectation that students' progression and success rates will not be negatively impacted by this change.

This exception approval is effective for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 only. Please keep a record of this email, in case of future audits.

Fall 2020
  • PNG 115 and PNG 120 as coreqs instead of prereqs
  • PNG 120 and PNG 125 as coreqs instead of prereqs
Spring 2021
  • PNG 215 and PNG 220 as coreqs instead of prereqs

(Memorandum to Elizabeth Wilmer from Sharon Morrissey, May 19, 2020)

J. Update to COVID-19 Guidance Messages 7 and 8: Placement of New Students

Background:

COVID-19 Guidance Message 7 temporarily suspended until further notice the portions of placement policy 6.4.0.2 related to the Virginia Placement Test and authorized each college president to determine appropriate procedures for enrolling and placing students. Subsequent guidance was shared with college admissions officers and registrars by VCCS Director of Student Services, Heather Sorrell.

COVID-19 Guidance Message 8 provided a temporary modification to VCCS Policy 6.6.3 to allow colleges to use additional measures for dual enrollment admission and placement.

Copies of Guidance Messages 7 and 8 are attached.

Update:

Because of uncertainties about the timeline for reopening colleges and safety protocols for allowing students back on campus, the Beyond the Pandemic Task Force recommended that the waiver of placement testing be continued for fall semester 2020. The Task Force also recommended that placement testing for dual enrolled students be suspended for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Based on these recommendations, Chancellor DuBois has approved the continued waiver of portions of VCCS Policy 6.4.0.2 for fall semester 2020 and Policy 6.6.3 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

(Memorandum to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, May 20, 2020)

K. Update to COVID-19 Guidance Messages 14: Spring Semester 2020 Grading Policy

On March 26, Chancellor DuBois instituted a default Pass/Withdraw/Incomplete grading scale for Spring Semester, with the option to allow students to request their earned letter grades. This emergency grading policy change was made in response to the closing of college campuses and the rapid transition to online instruction, which created access and learning challenges for many VCCS students.

The Beyond the Pandemic Task Force considered whether to recommend an extension of the temporary grading policy. Recognizing that the temporary policy was implemented in response to an emergency that disrupted face-to-face instruction during spring semester and that students enrolling in the summer knew they were enrolling in online courses, the Task Force recommended that the standard grading policy be reinstated for summer term and beyond. Therefore, the standard VCCS grading policy is in effect for summer term and will continue thereafter.

(Memorandum to VCCS Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from Sharon Morrissey, May 20, 2020)

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