Flexible Attendance

When a student has a chronic condition with random or cyclical acute episodes, modifications to attendance policies may be appropriate as an accommodation.

Attendance accommodations need to be established in advance with office of Disability Resources, and cannot be applied retroactively.

A recent diagnosis, onset, or change in condition is comparable to an unexpected illness or injury and may not warrant accommodations in attendance policy. These events may warrant a withdrawal or a retroactive medical withdrawal under some circumstances. All withdrawal procedures and policies are handled by the office of Undergraduate Studies, Graduate Studies, or the Dean's office in the student's respective professional school or college.

It is the student's responsibility to initiate the accommodations process with the office of Disability Resources in Educational Services for Students. Once attendance accommodations are deemed warranted by the office of Disability Resources, the student is responsible for taking the official Accommodation Memo to each of his or her professors, and for talking to each professor about course attendance and participation requirements, notifications of absences, and make-up assignment and test policies.

The student is responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements for the course. The Office of Civil Rights has developed the following questions to use as guidelines in determining whether or not attendance is an essential requirement for the course:

  1. Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students, and among students?
  2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning?
  4. To what degree does a student's failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  5. What do the course description and syllabus say?
  6. Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
  7. And what are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

Faculty should review these questions and make a determination for each class to determine whether attendance is an essential requirement for the course and what flexibility is permissible in discussing the issue with the individual student as needed. In order to meet the obligations to the student who has been granted flexible attendance as an accommodation, faculty members need to be able to show that an interactive process with the student occurred in addressing the student's request for flexible attendance in a particular class. Disability Resources staff are available for consultation in these matters. Once the faculty member and student have discussed the issue of attendance and the faculty member has determined and communicated to the student the appropriate level of flexibility for the class, the student is responsible for complying with the attendance plan established. The student is responsible for following up with the faculty member if the attendance plan requires adjustment.

In the event that a student with attendance accommodations is unable to attend class, he or she must notify each professor. In extreme cases, such as a hospitalization, the student may contact the office of Disability Resources to send a notice to all of his or her professors. The student should make every attempt to deliver or have delivered any work that has been completed and is due to the professor. It may not be appropriate to discuss make-up work at the time the student notifies the professor of the need to be absent. The student is responsible for initiating conversation with the professor once he or she is able to determine what work or participation needs to be made up and how it will be completed.