Attendance accommodations

Some reasons why a student’s disability may impact attendance

  • episodic health complications
  • random or cyclical acute episodes
  • hospitalization

Discuss with your student the possibility of missing class, how the student will make up missed work and what will happen if the absences become excessive

  • Initiate an interactive process with the student about their request for flexible attendance as early as possible in the term. We encourage students to also initiate this process as soon as possible.
  • How do you prefer to be notified of disability-related absences?
  • Consider and communicate the appropriate level of flexibility for the class and define what work or participation will need to be made up and how it will be completed.
  • Depending on the situation, (i.e. the student is hospitalized) it may not be appropriate to discuss make-up work at the time the student notifies you of the need to be absent.

Instructor responsibilities

  • Inform students about your class attendance policy in your course syllabus. Establish clear expectations of how classroom attendance, missed quizzes/exams, assignment deadlines, and instructor notification will be handled in case of medical absences.
  • Meet with students who wish to discuss attendance accommodations.
  • Deliberately consider if, or to what degree, class attendance is essential to your course and communicate your decision to your student(s).
  • The student is responsible for following up with you as soon as possible if the attendance plan you’ve discussed requires adjustment.

Determine if attendance is an essential requirement of your course

Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential requirement for learning? Are student contributions a significant component of the learning process (i.e. actively participating in class discussions/activities & classroom interactions between the instructor and students)?

To what degree does a student's absence constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?

How are students expected to interact with each other (in class, group work in and/or outside of class, via Coursespaces or email)?

  • What is the “time in seat” expectation for students in the class?
  • Does each week’s content build sequentially on what was learned in the previous week?
  • Is it possible for students to “work ahead” in this class?
  • Will there be flexibility if the student is absent on a day that an assignment is due? May the student submit the assignment electronically? Is there a time frame within which the assignment must be submitted?
  • Could missed assignments be turned in via e-mail or through Coursespaces?
  • Are there other sections of the course that the student could attend to catch up on missed material?
  • Will the student be allowed to make up missed tests? Is there a time frame within which these must completed?
  • Which method is used to calculate the final grade? If there is an attendance policy and/or attendance is factored into the final course grade, is there a maximum number of absences allowed? How many absences would be considered excessive?

The student is responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements for the course

The student should make every attempt to deliver (or have delivered to you) any work that is due and has been completed.

If the student cannot complete the coursework or does not meet the course requirements after accommodations have been put into place, you can grade accordingly and/ or refer the student to the university’s Request for Academic Concession (RAC).

Case examples

  • In a language course, a student is told at the start of the semester that the instructor cannot allow much flexibility regarding attendance because most of the learning depends on classroom interactions. However, the instructor will keep the student’s accommodation in mind. The student is then hospitalized for a week at the end of the term and cannot complete a presentation. The student is allowed to deliver the presentation with only the professor present because it would not fundamentally alter the learning objectives of the course.
  • An instructor agrees that a student can miss class more often than classmates as long as all of the work is completed throughout the term and that communication is maintained about the student’s progress on assignments. It is nearing the end of the semester and the student has not turned in any assignments to date, has not been in contact with the instructor and has not attended class. In this case, the instructor would not be expected to extend deadlines as the student has not taken responsibility for maintaining communication and has not completed coursework.