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Flexible Attendance Accommodation

In this Section
Policies identifying the number of allowable absences before they impact grades may be designed to motivate attendance; reflect the interactive or participatory nature of a course; or be based on department, college or accrediting agency rules.

When a student has a chronic condition with random or cyclical acute episodes, modifications to attendance policies may be appropriate.  While the attendance accommodation may be CONSIDERED for each course for these students, it cannot be GUARANTEED because some of the essential elements of a course may necessitate attending in order to satisfy the core course components.  This is especially true for a lab course.

The instructor and the Department Chair with the Director of Accommodative Services will determine the reasonableness of accommodations pertaining to attendance.  There are cases, if the student is not in class, where it may very well be reasonable to fully deny participation points and where an alternative assignment in lieu of attendance may not be reasonable.

When it comes to participation points, one must first consider why the points are in place.  What purpose does attending the course serve?

These questions from a prior Office of Civil Rights case may be used as a guide in determining the reasonableness of an attendance accommodation:
  • Is there a classroom/lab interaction between the instructor and students or among the students themselves?
  • Do student contributions/experiences in class/lab 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/lab constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What do the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
  • Is the attendance policy consistently applied to all students?
  • What is the method by which the final course grade is calculated?
  • Is there a legitimate alternative accommodation that can be implemented instead?
The attendance accommodation is in place to support the occasional miss for medical reasons.  The attendance accommodation can often only support a student if the number of classes missed does not exceed 20 - 25% of the course AND is otherwise deemed permissible as evaluated according to the above standards.

A recent diagnosis, onset, or change in condition is comparable to an unexpected illness or injury and may not warrant accommodations in attendance policy.  They may warrant a withdrawal or a retroactive medical withdrawal under some circumstances.

"Late Work," "Make Up" & "Pop Quiz" Policies

These policies all tie into attendance and should be included when you discuss attendance.  As with the course attendance policy, accommodations may be appropriate depending on the nature of the assignment or quiz and its relationship to the pacing and progression of instruction.

Be sure to discuss:
  • Assignments and due dates
  • Scheduled tests
  • Pop quizzes
  • Note takers, Interpreters, Captionists
  • Projects - individual and group
"Excuse" Policies

When meeting to discuss the attendance accommodation, it is reasonable for an instructor to expect a student with a chronic condition who has appropriate documentation on file with the Office of Accommodative Services to share that between X and Y absences of between A and B duration can be expected any given semester.  It is also reasonable for the instructor to accept the student's statement rather than a signed doctor's note, as long as the frequency and duration fit within the parameters.  If they exceed the parameters, then the Office of Accommodative Services may request new documentation or a doctor's note.

Attendance accommodations and any related coursework policies and guidelines should be established IN ADVANCE, not retroactively.  After the student meets with the faculty member to get his/her Schedule & Accommodations Report (Green Sheet) signed, the Director of Accommodative Services will meet with the faculty member to assist with writing the flexible attendance agreement.  The agreement should be signed by the student and the instructor and a copy should also be kept on file at the Office of Accommodative Services.

Additional Guidelines for the Office of Accommodative Services

Requirements for modifications to attendance policies supported by the Office of Accommodative Services:
  • Is there a disability?
  • Is one of the impacts random, cyclical or triggered acute episodes?
  • What is the typical frequency of episodes? (2-5 times per month; 1-4 times per year ...)
  • What is the typical duration of episodes? (1-3 hours; 1-2 days ...)
  • Describe any known triggers or cycles.
  • Is the individual under a self-care regimen for typical episodes?