ARC allows excused withdrawals for spring 2020 students amid COVID-19


Students at American River College have been given the option to change any Spring 2020 semester class failing grade to an excused withdrawl or EW on their transcript due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo illustration by Dylan Lillie)

By: Dylan Lillie 

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The Los Rios Community College District’s decision to transition to online courses due to the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the American River College community. As online learning continues into the fall semester, the district has continued to offer an alternative way to drop spring 2020 classes if necessary, according to ARC Vice President of Student Services Jeff Stephenson.

Students are now required to take classes online, which may make it hard for those who don’t have immediate access to devices such as computers and smartphones to complete their online assignments. 

With this and other factors in mind, the State Chancellor’s office of the Los Rios Community College District has allowed for students who earned a grade below passing during the spring semester to change it to an excused withdrawal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

An excused withdrawal allows for a student to nullify a substandard grade, and the credits for the class are taken away, without negatively impacting the student’s grade point average. This is especially important for students who are looking to transfer because a GPA minimum requirement is usually necessary to get into any four-year universities, according to Stephenson.

Stephenson also explained that for a student looking for an associate’s degree, however, a D can still be accepted as long as you are still meeting your GPA requirement to graduate. With this in mind, students can keep a D if they choose but all failing grades can be changed to an excused withdrawal as long as they have met certain requirements.

According to Stephenson, not only does an excused withdrawal remove the poor grade from your transcript, but it also allows for students who are receiving financial aid benefits to get their money back for the class. Jeff Stephenson spoke about all the benefits of the excused withdrawal program in an email interview.

“An excused withdrawal does not count towards units, does not have negative impacts to financial aid, and does not count against repeatability limits,” Stephenson wrote.

According to Stephenson, the goal for the LRCCD State Chancellor’s office was to allow for students who could still benefit from a D to be able to accept the units while allowing for others to alter what may have negatively affected them. In the email, Stephenson said the decision has had an impact.

“With the pandemic, we felt it was the right thing to do to give the students the option to change D grades to EWs and to change all F grades to EWs,” Stephenson wrote. “We know our students have faced many challenges with the pandemic and moving from on ground to an online environment.”

Stephenson said the decisions made by the chancellor’s office were ones they deemed necessary in these uncertain times, and it was a situation in which they felt that this decision could only benefit students.