More students are disclosing disabilities that may impact their classroom attendance. Such disabilities include chronic health conditions and psychological disabilities. As with any other student with a disability, if a student with a condition that affects attendance requests an accommodation relative to attendance requirements, please refer the student to the Disability Services office. Indicate to the student that you will be happy to discuss reasonable accommodations with the student when he/she brings a letter of accommodation from Disability Services to you. The letter from Disability Services will verify the student’s disability and indicate that some flexibility in your attendance policy, if practicable within the context of the course, may be an appropriate accommodation for the student.  When the student presents you with this letter, the two of you should discuss how many additional absences would be appropriate in this course. The student is instructed by Disability Services this accommodation does not mean that absences are unlimited and that the student must be responsible for notifying you of absences and for making up all work that is missed during the absence. Additionally, Disability Services notifies students that if the extent of their absences creates a difficulty in maintaining the credibility of their experience in a course, then the completion of the course may not be possible. In that case, a withdrawal or an incomplete might be appropriate.  

There are some courses where some additional absences may be a reasonable accommodation, but there may be other situations in which additional absences may alter the integrity of a course.  Below are some considerations for faculty in determining whether additional absences are appropriate in their courses.

  • What does the syllabus say about attendance? 
    • If there is an attendance policy, are all students required to provide a documentation to verify the reason for the absence?
    • Do you alter or waive attendance policies for other students (athletes, for example)?
    • How is attendance factored into the final grade?
  • What is the in-class expectation for this course?
    • Is participation figured into the final grade?
    • Are students required to participate in class discussions?
    • How do students interact with each other (in class, group work outside of class, Blackboard, or e-mail)?
    • How much does one class build upon a previous class?
  • What policies exist for making up missed work and exams?
    • Could missed assignments be turned in on Blackboard or email?
    • Are tests to be taken at a specific time and place, or is there a window when the test can be taken?
    • Are there other sections of the class that the student could attend to catch up on missed material?