Oak Park and River Forest High School board considers 'no fail' policy

Oak Park and River Forest High School called a special board meeting Tuesday night to consider a "no-fail" policy for spring semester 2021, because of the toll the pandemic took on students' mental health.

The push for a "no-fail" policy came from student-activists from the group ROYAL, the Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League. They asked the administration for the ability to opt-out of grade-based assessments and to be given full credit for what they describe as a very difficult spring semester.

"This has probably been the worst school year for me, ever, in my life," said sophomore Jacob Diaz. "Online schooling is probably the hardest for me, because my grades have never been this bad, ever."


Diaz and other students say they have had to deal with the hardships of the pandemic, racial unrest in the wake of the George Floyd murder, and the emotional toll of isolation in the face of their academic course load.

Over the course of six days, ROYAL says it amassed 800 signatures from other students and community members in favor of the "no-fail" policy.

Cynthia Brito, a parent of a freshman and a senior, says both of her children have struggled this year and asked the administration for "empathy."  

"Starting from last year when the pandemic hit, it's been incredibly difficult for them," Brito said. "Right from the beginning, their grades started suffering and the school did not do much."

"If [the no-fail policy] passes, I'll be able to go into junior year with a fresh start. And if we go back in-person, I know for a fact that my grades won't look like they do now," Diaz said.

As of 9 p.m., no decision had been made but one member said she found the students’ arguments "very persuasive" and another said he believes the board should "extend as much grace as possible."

It was stated at the board meeting that 800 seniors are on track to graduate; 34 are not.