by Aditi Deokar
April 23, 2020
In the hope of answering questions from BUA students about how COVID-19 is affecting BUA and BU, I reached out to Dr. White and Ms. Evans. Below are their responses to questions that were asked by BUA students. The questions cover end-of-year events, final exams, returning in the fall, student input about remote learning, and BU’s and BUA’s Credit/No Credit option.
Which BUA end-of-year events will be cancelled, and which will be held virtually?
This question was answered in Dr. White’s communication to the school on Tuesday, April 21, which says, “We have made the decision to cancel those spring events that would not be easily replicable in a virtual setting, including the Spring Concert, Field Day, the Annual Day of Service, Prom, and the Spring Musical. Senior Thesis Presentations will take place remotely the week of May 11 (more details are forthcoming), and we have reimagined Senior Dinner (May 14) and Commencement (May 18) as virtual celebrations of the BUA Class of 2020, with the hope of celebrating those milestones again in person when it is safe to do so. More details about those events will be shared with seniors and their families in a separate communication; all BUA students and families will be invited to participate in virtual Commencement. Finally, we plan to hold a virtual Year-End Celebration (June 5) to mark the end of the academic year. A full list of the status of all year-end events is available on our website.”
How will BUA students take final exams?
Each department is working on their plans for final assessments. They will not look like the regular two-hour, written exams we are used to, but teachers do want to engage students in final assessments, papers, or projects. Students will find out the plans for each course in early May.
Will BUA students return in the fall?
Unfortunately, I do not know more than any other school leader or medical professional at this point. Of course, if it is safe to return to school, we will be open! If state or federal policies deem it too unsafe, we will follow their guidance. I remain optimistic and am excited to see all of the students back in the building as soon as we safely can!
How much do BUA teachers take students’ input when teaching remotely?
Teachers and advisors would love to hear feedback on how the remote learning experience is going; we are all teaching remotely for the first time and continuing to evolve our plans. I know that many teachers are regularly checking in with their students and advisees, so students should openly voice their questions, concerns, and thoughts.
How will BUA take students’ input on questions about remote learning that are still uncertain?
Most students completed last week’s student survey on the remote learning experience, which was amazing. A small group of teachers and administrators have gone through the data carefully for trends, concerns, and student suggestions — it has been so informative. We will then share our findings with all of the teachers and staff to help inform decisions and understand student concerns. Thanks to everyone who completed the survey!
Regarding non-classroom parts of the remote world, we welcome student input into how to build and maintain the BUA community! Ms. Perrone and Ms. Evans have been leading a team on the student experience during this period of remote learning; they are working to keep students engaged in non-academic activities, keep spirits up, and make sure students feel like a part of the BUA community, even when at home. If any student has ideas to share, they should reach out to Ms. Evans, Ms. Perrone, or me. Also, Student Council continues to work closely with Ms. Perrone, so also share your thoughts with them. We would love to hear from you!
Students taking BU classes are now able to choose between keeping their letter grade and a Credit/No Credit option in which any grade of D or higher corresponds to Credit, and a grade of F corresponds to No Credit. How will colleges view this Credit/No Credit option on a transcript in comparison to a letter grade, and is this an advantage or disadvantage to BUA students?
In our conversations and communications with college admissions personnel regarding how the pandemic will impact our students in the college process, there has been a universal response of support and understanding. Circumstances are dire, and admissions offices will be flexible. Therefore, students will not be disadvantaged if they opt into the Credit/No Credit option.
The decision is highly individualized, and we ask students to talk through their options with the College Office staff before making a final decision. There is no blanket response in terms of pros and cons. For students whose family and friends are in good health, Wi-Fi connectivity is strong, and who are managing the remote learning platform relatively smoothly, we encourage them, if they are able, to continue their good work in the classroom. A strong grade can, obviously, provide important data about a student’s ability. If that data point, however, is impacted by world circumstances, it will not be weighed. This will mean that other factors of the application (previous grades, future grades, essays, extracurricular activities not impacted by the pandemic, etc.) likely will be weighed more heavily.
On a larger scale, we want students to remember that these are unprecedented times. The College Counseling staff is here to help students navigate this uncertainty, but we need to take a lot of this one step at a time. There is not a one size fits all answer. At the end of the day, we want your primary focus to be your health, safety, and wellness.”
For more information about the Credit/No Credit policy, please go to https://www.buacademy.org/bua-remote/remote-notes/. In part, this website says: “BUA students are required to consult with a member of the college counseling team if they are considering the Credit/No Credit option for any of their BU courses. Whereafter a formal request for Credit/No Credit designation must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (with a parent/guardian copied for approval) by May 14.