In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, faculty across the country have turned on a dime to teach, do committee work and mentor their students — all on screens. Students are stressed about their classes and jobs and feeling a mix of emotions about leaving their campuses. Amid all the confusions and hassles, one element of academic life persists more or less unchanged: evaluation.

Students won’t get the experiences in the classroom or on campus that they signed up for, but they will get grades. If they’re lucky, their faculty and administrations are permitting flexibility with grading, including offering professors the sensible options of pass/fail or credit/no credit. Columbia University and other institutions are applying this policy universally, so that students are not faced with having to decide for themselves and risk being penalized for their choice down the line.

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