Flexible Attendance provides students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of course knowledge and meet essential requirements even when their disability limits their ability to attend class on a regular basis. Reasonable accommodations are not meant to change or lower the essential requirements or outcomes of the course.
If you are teaching an online/remote course, this accommodation is only required if a) you plan to use synchronous (live streamed course) content, or b) you plan to assess students during a very specific window of time during which a student’s disability may prevent them from participating.
Reasonable Attendance Adjustments
Generally, students are expected to follow established classroom attendance policies. For example, some students who have a disability that is unpredictable or cyclic in nature may be eligible for Flexible Attendance. In those cases, reasonable attendance adjustments are determined case-by-case, based on the student’s needs, course content, course format, and essential requirements of the course/academic program.
If you teach an online or remote course that includes live-stream lectures, group breakout sessions, or other real-time activities, consider recording the live-stream lectures for later viewing. If, on occasion, the student is not able to participate in other real-time activities due to increased symptoms of their disability, consider whether an alternative assignment may be reasonable.
When students need to use their Flexible Attendance accommodation, typically they are allowed a 24-48 hour window to make up any assignments, exams, or quizzes that were missed on the day of their absence.
Keep in mind that:
- Accommodations begin on the date the DRC notification email is sent to the instructor. However, since students may register with the DRC at any time, they may not be eligible until later in the term.
- Students who request accommodations prior to the DRC notification letter being sent should be referred to an Access Counselor & Consultant (AC&C) at the DRC.
- Instructors cannot request medical documentation or information about a student’s disability to verify their disability-related need for accommodation.
The following information is intended to generate some ideas for the instructor and the student to use when discussing the possibilities and the limitations of Flexible Attendance in a particular course.
After receiving the Faculty Notification Letter from the DRC, students and instructors are equally responsible for communicating with each other regarding Flexible Attendance. This can be done in a number of ways, including via Zoom or Google Hangouts, at a private meeting in your office, by phone, or by email, or in person (if circumstances allow).
Reasonable accommodations preserve both the integrity of the course and the student’s right to an equitable educational experience. The proactive conversation about Flexible Attendance should focus on the impact of missing class, how many absences are reasonable throughout the term, and whether any specific class meetings cannot be missed. The following questions may help instructors and students:
- Is essential information about assignments discussed in class only?
- Often there are alternative ways for students to get this information. However, if you feel that in-class discussion is the only way to convey necessary information, we suggest you consult with the DRC.
- Does the course rely on student participation as a significant method for learning? Most classes encourage rather than require student participation.
- If you feel your class does require participation, we suggest you consult with the DRC.
- At any point during the term, are there experiences that students are required to attend which will affect their grade if missed?
- While these instances are rare, if you feel this applies, discuss this with the DRC.
- To what degree might absences constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
- If the course requires group work, group discussion, or outside projects, the student’s absence may affect others. We suggest you consult with the DRC if this is the case.
- Is virtual attendance possible and an appropriate substitution for in-class attendance?
- If virtual attendance is possible, instructors should discuss how that will work with the student and the DRC.
- How will the student communicate that they will be missing class?
- While the instructor receives an email notification of the accommodation from the DRC, the student is responsible for notifying their instructor of any disability-related absences as far in advance of each absence as possible. At times, a student’s disability may preclude advance notice. In these cases, the student is responsible for contacting the instructor as soon as they are able after the absence.