Flexibility in Attendance/Assignments

If a student has a disability with random or cyclical acute episodes that may occasionally impact the student’s ability to attend class or complete exams or assignments at the scheduled time, flexibility in attendance/assignments may be considered an appropriate accommodation. Students who believe they cannot adhere to an attendance policy because of circumstances directly related to a disability may seek an accommodation. As with all accommodations, the process for students to initiate a request for attendance accommodations is through the Office of Accessible Education.

Attendance and Assignment Deadlines

Students are expected and encouraged to attend classes on a regular basis. Faculty have the right to establish attendance policies. The number of allowable absences depends on the interactive or participatory nature of a course. Therefore, attendance policies are set by faculty.

Students are expected and encouraged to meet all deadlines for assignments and tests. Faculty have the right to establish late work policies.

What does Flexibility in Attendance/Assignments mean?

Students who may occasionally miss class or an assignment deadline or exam due to random or cyclical acute episodes caused by a disability may seek an accommodation. Flexibility in attendance/assignments is not applied to every week, every assignment, or every exam. An approved agreement between the student and faculty should help clarify expectations should an unexpected flare-up occur during the term.

The Office of Accessible Education may contact faculty regarding the accommodation to gain an understanding in the role attendance plays in the design of the course, as well as a basic understanding of the impact or role timing of assignments and exams play in the interactive or participatory nature of the course.

Specifically, the Office of Accessible Education will explore:

  • What is the course attendance policy? What do the course description and syllabus say?
  • What method is used to calculate the final grade? (attendance, assignments, exams, etc.)
  • Are the attendance policy and late work or missed exams policy applied consistently? Are there exceptions to the policy made for extenuating circumstances, such as athletic travel or religious observation?
  • How much interaction is there between the instructor and students and among students’ peers?
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the design of the course rely on student participation as a significant method for learning (either in attendance and/or their assignment (project) contributions?
  • Is there content only offered in class?
  • Is attendance via Skype (or alternative method) a possibility during a flare-up, and if so, for what percentage of the class meetings?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class or complete an assignment on time compromise the educational experience of other students in the class?

If the Flexibility in Attendance/Assignments accommodation is determined to be reasonable, the Office of Accessible Education will work with faculty and students to clearly specify:

  • How and when the student should inform faculty that they will miss a class.
  • How the student will make up missed assignments and/or exams.
  • The number of absences (beyond what any student is allowed) that would be reasonable.
  • If it is reasonable for online discussion expectations to be modified due to disability-related reasons and under what conditions.
  • If it is reasonable to extend the window for completing online exams or assignments.
  • Whether a drop, withdraw or incomplete may be appropriate based on the student’s situation.

The parameters of this accommodation need to be worked out on an individual basis between the professor and student, based on the structure and requirements of the class. This accommodation depends upon a partnership between the student and professor though the Office of Accessible Education will assist in facilitating or advising throughout this process.

Important Information

  • This accommodation is not a blanket reason to miss class or miss assignment due dates.
  • This accommodation is not reasonable if the number of accommodated absences becomes excessive. Faculty should never waive essential academic components of the course.
  • Some students register late in the term or wait to request this accommodation until late in the term. In these cases, faculty are not expected to provide retroactive accommodations. However, it may still be helpful to have this information, even at a late point in the term.
  • At no time is the student required to present the faculty member with medical documentation verifying his/her disability-related absence for this accommodation.
  • Absences that are not related to the effects of a disability are not included in this accommodation (i.e. absences due to a common illness, busy schedule, work schedule, etc.) and should be addressed according to the stated syllabus attendance/absence policy. The student is responsible for following the faculty member’s syllabus regarding absences due to non-disability related issues.
  • An accommodation in attendance is not reasonable if regular attendance is essential element/component to the course and/or curriculum.
  • Faculty are not obligated to re-teach material missed due to a student not attending class.
  • Not every course component can be provided an extension.
  • Students have the responsibility for completing all class work and should be held to the same standard as all other students.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kamakana, the Coordinator for Student Accessibility Services at access@g.hmc.edu.