Adjustments to the Attendance Policy
All students, with or without accommodations, are responsible for fulfilling essential course/program/degree requirements. However, some students have health related disabilities that, when the effects of such become so incapacitating on a periodic but irregular basis, that it prevents them from getting to class.
The Disability Resources Office (DRO) may determine Limited Adjustment to the Attendance Policy as a reasonable academic adjustment, as listed on a student’s Accommodation Letter, when a student’s disability intermittently prevents them from physically attending class. The Limited Adjustment to the Attendance Policy does not permit unlimited absences nor is it intended to be applied retroactively.
Students remain accountable for all academic activities (assignments, assessments, required readings, etc.) and evaluation standards specified on the syllabus. Seasonal illness (eg. flu, mono), temporary impairments, health conditions not on record with the DRO, and non-disability related absences are not subject to attendance adjustments.
In most cases, class attendance is critical to a student’s mastery of knowledge and skills taught in a specific course. Students are expected to follow the attendance policy established by the instructor in each class. It is not reasonable for faculty to fundamentally alter, waive or lower: essential course requirements, academic standards, or educational experiences/outcomes when attempting to accommodate absences. It is generally not reasonable to convert a seated course to an online, self-paced, or independent study format.
The University will consider alternative, but equivalent, options for students to successfully complete essential course requirements without compromising course standards. These options are determined on a case-by-case basis in consideration of the disability’s anticipated impact on attendance, the course requirements and faculty expectations.
Some options that may be considered as equivalent alternatives for an absence include allowing:
- Completion of equivalent alternative work.
- Attendance to other course sections.
- Review of missed content during office hours.
- Missed content to be obtained from a classmate.
- Attend class remotely (ie.: live video conferencing such as Zoom).
- Alternate participation via discussion board or forum activities
- Alternate option/availability to make up time
A Limited Attendance Adjustment Plan should be completed as soon as possible for each course once the Accommodation Letter has been requested. Students may complete these forms with faculty or the DRO can facilitate the completion. A copy of the completed form must be submitted to the DRO for review to determine final course specific adjustments related to attendance. If the Limited Attendance Adjustment Plan is not completed and submitted to DRO, then course specific attendance adjustments will not be approved and DRO will not monitor disability related absences.
Excessive absences, even with an approved DRO attendance accommodation, may require a student to explore options such as a Medical Class Load Reduction, Medical Withdrawal or request an Incomplete directly with instructors.
Is Attendance Essential?
In each course, the instructor identifies essential course outcomes, determines the measures, whether they have been met and establishes the acceptable number of excused absences in light of these requirements. Instructors are neither expected to compromise the essential course objectives nor fundamentally alter the course regardless of the student’s medical condition; however, instructors must consider the following questions provided as a guideline by the Office for Civil Rights to determine if attendance is truly essential:
- What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
- To what extent is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
- Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class?
- What elements of the course are used to calculate the final course grade?
After a comprehensive examination of the essential course objectives and consideration of equivalent alternatives, the ultimate decision regarding attendance and the resulting influence absences would have on the course will be made.
In general, courses that involve significant face-to-face interaction, in-class participation, or where content mastery is reliant on attendance, there may be limited alternatives available. For example:
- foreign language learning
- public speaking/communications
- Consider their disability related limitations when choosing courses and developing a class schedule, for example, scheduling online courses, classes at a certain time of day, scheduling breaks between classes, etc.
- Carefully review the syllabus for each course to understand essential course requirements and the attendance requirements.
- Complete a Limited Attendance Adjustment Plan with faculty for each course and submit to DRO to determine course specific adjustments.
- Contact the DRO if there is concern after discussing attendance adjustments with faculty.
- Notify the instructor and the DRO (email@example.com) regarding a disability-related absence as soon as possible.
- Complete and stay current with all required coursework, including obtaining missing materials/notes.
- Understand that grades and content mastery could be negatively impacted by not attending class.
- Clearly examine essential course requirements.
- Publish established attendance requirements in the syllabus.
- Consult with the DRO to determine reasonable course specific adjustments, as needed.
- Communicate and document how to implement the DRO approved course adjustments with their students.
- Engage in the interactive process by completing a Limited Attendance Adjustment Plan.
- Contact the DRO if there is a concern that the anticipated number of disability related absences may fundamentally alter course objectives or learning outcomes.