WATERLOO -- Some students are lobbying for change at the University of Waterloo to have the option for "compassionate grading" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That grading system would give them the option to swap numeral grades for a simple pass or fail.

First year chemistry student Anna Marchand said she chose the University of Waterloo because there are a lot of labs available at the school.

"Half of chemistry is labs," she said. "It's learning in the lab how to handle chemicals and different reactions and things like that."

But she can't learn hands-on because her classes are virtual.

"I do believe if I were in class, I would be getting higher grades," Marchand said.

Many students said the adjustment has been difficult in the pandemic.

"Kind of a challenge navigating that and motivating yourself to get school work done," political science student William Shepherd said.

"Having challenges with their mental health, they don't have a good study environment, they're living in a different time zone," said Megan Town, VP of the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).

Town said she wants the university to help make things easier for students by offering a compassionate grading option across the board.

"That seems like a solution which is relatively little administrative burden for the university and greatly benefit students," Town said.

In a statement, Associate VP of Academic David DeVidi said the school is focused on support students' physical and mental health, along with their academic success.

"Students whose academic performance has been particularly affected by the consequences of the pandemic can petition for exceptions to normal academic regulations under the provisions of the University’s Policy 70, including the option to file a petition for grade adjustments," the statement said in part.

Students have always been able to petition for non-credit grading, the university said. In the Winter 2020, officials said instructors had to change their assessment methods as they moved to online learning. The school said students can still follow the petition process.

"The university feels that this is the right mechanism to handle such cases, rather than across the board provisions that create other sorts of unfairness," DeVidi's statement said.

Wilfrid Laurier University officials said the school is offering a credit option for Fall 2020 without a petition process.

Conestoga College said there is no specific policy, but officials are willing to work with students on a case-by-case basis.