Modification to Class Absence Practices and Recommended Syllabus Language

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Modification to Class Absence Practices and Recommended Syllabus Language

 Liesl Folks, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
July 19, 2021

** This memorandum supersedes the memoranda sent on March 3, 2020, August 12, 2020, and January 8, 2021

Updated class absence practices and language available for course syllabi – Fall 2021

The Pandemic Academic Coordination workgroup and an advisory group of faculty members have finalized recommended language for inclusion in your Fall 2021 syllabi. The language can be downloaded here. This guidance is intended to augment the Attendance Policies and Practices provided by the Dean of Students Office. The course syllabus policies and templates are available for undergraduate courses and graduate courses.

As a reminder, it is critical that students be able to miss a small number of classes without penalty in order to adhere to public health guidance to limit disease spread. In addition, we know many of our students are struggling with life challenges that require us to be compassionate, responsive, and supportive. To support these needs, please:

  • Reiterate verbally and in writing your support for students to miss a small number of classes (up to the equivalent of one week of classes) for illness or other life challenges, provided that they communicate with you about the absence (if possible).
  • Remind them of how best to communicate with you, and that they are responsible for keeping up to date with their work, even when absent.
  • Emphasize that for more than one week of absences (or equivalent), the student must contact the Dean of Students Office to provide a doctor's note of explanation.
  • Remind them that non-attendance for any reason does not guarantee an automatic extension of a due date or rescheduling of examinations.
  • Ensure that your specific class attendance policies will not penalize students who adhere to these processes.

The pandemic has surfaced the critical importance of public and mental health among members of the University community, and we ask instructors to make every effort to be compassionate as you work with students. Please provide access to course materials and/or alternative means of instruction as you would have done before the pandemic as long as they are aligned with the practices above.

We recognize, however, that remote learning may not be possible in some in-person laboratory and performing arts courses. Additional guidance and strategies are available on the Office of Instruction and Assessment's Balancing Structure & Flexibility During Pandemic and Teaching Models sites.  

Please also work directly with your teaching assistant/s to develop a plan for how to manage duties if they should have to stay home due to illness or other life challenges.

Thank you for embodying the University value of compassion as we approach our academic activities in the fall. We appreciate your continued support and creativity on behalf of your students.

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