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Disability- or chronic health-related functional impacts can be extended or unpredictable. An accommodation for occasional excused absences helps a student manage those impacts. For example, a student's chronic illness may unexpectedly flare up for multiple days, they may need surgery, or they may be experiencing impacts related to their mental health diagnosis.

Students are expected to attend all classes in which they are enrolled. However, the spirit of the accommodation is that a student should not be penalized for absences due to a disability- or chronic health-related functional impact.

The student's responsibilities

The student should contact you shortly after releasing their accommodation letter to discuss their attendance needs.

The student must notify you as early as possible if they will be absent. However, they may not have advance warning of an issue.

The student should tell you how long they expect to be absent and notify you as early as possible if their needs change.

The student is responsible for collecting missed notes from other students.

The student must complete the learning outcomes of the course. They can request an academic concession if they cannot complete the course outcomes.

Your responsibilities

Contact the student to discuss their attendance needs if they do not contact you. Allow for the possibility that the student may need time to schedule similar discussions for several courses.

Determine an appropriate method for the student to notify you of an absence, such as an email with a particular subject line or a phone call.

Negotiate alternative work or an extension, if the student will miss an exam or important due date. However, the student may be unable to discuss this when they notify you that they will be absent.

Provide the student with materials you distributed to the class, such as hand-outs or links to videos.

Do not ask the student for details about the cause of their absence. Information about disability and health is confidential. Contact the CAL advisor if you have questions about the use of the accommodation. The CAL advisor reviewed medical documentation before assigning the accommodation.


Accommodated absences

At the start of the course, you inform the class that you cannot allow much flexibility about attendance because most of the learning depends on classroom interactions. You inform the student that you will keep their attendance accommodation in mind. The student is then hospitalized for a week at the end of the course and cannot complete a presentation.

You allow the student to deliver the presentation to you alone because it will not fundamentally affect the learning outcomes of the course.

Unaccommodated absences

You negotiate with the student that they can be absent more than the syllabus allows as long as they complete all coursework and stay in communication about their progress. It is the last week of the course, and the student has neither turned in any assignments, notified you of any absences, nor attended any lectures.

You do not extend any deadlines because the student has not taken responsibility for communication or coursework.

How to help

Include your attendance policy in the course syllabus. Clearly explain how you handle absences, missed exams, and late assignments. Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI) provides guidance and a prepared statement for your syllabus.

Provide notes and course materials to all students through Brightspace or the course website so that implementing an individual accommodation is not necessary. This also helps students with an audio recording or peer note-taker accommodation.

Determine if attendance is an essential requirement in the course:

  • Does the course fundamentally rely on student participation?
  • Are student contributions a significant part of the learning process?
  • Does a student's absence negatively affect other students' learning?
  • Does each week's material build on participation from the previous week?