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Reasonable Modification of Course Attendance Policy

SDAC expects that all students will make every effort to attend all class sessions. However, there may be times when a student is unable to avoid missing class due to their disability. This accommodation is intended to create some flexibility of the attendance policy in the course to allow for a reasonable number of disability-related absences. This does not mean unlimited absences, excessive absences, and does not account for absences that are not disability-related. This accommodation is subject to a reasonableness standard and is not appropriate in every circumstance. In cases where attendance is an essential part of the class, a withdrawal or an incomplete may be considered a reasonable alternative if absences become excessive.

For this accommodation, there must be communication between the student, faculty, and SDAC (as needed/required) to determine a reasonable amount of absences that would be permissible for the student; the outcome of the conversation should be recorded on our Agreement with Instructor form (also available online through the student's SDAC portal). Below we provide an outline for the steps in the process, guiding questions for this conversation, and examples of how this accommodation has been implemented in other courses.

Steps for Implementation:

  1. Student contacts faculty to discuss how this accommodation will be implemented in that particular course. If the student does not reach out, we encourage faculty to contact the student. This should happen as early in the semester as possible.
  2. The student and faculty determine the implementation of the accommodation based on the specific structure of the course. SDAC has provided guiding questions for this conversation (see below), and also is available to participate in this discourse if requested.
  3. The student (ideally during the meeting with faculty) logs into their SDAC portal to fill out an Agreement with Instructor form, outlining the details of the conversation. For easy reference, a copy of the Agreement with Instructor form is also available here.

Guiding Questions:

The number of reasonable absences are going to be variable for each course and may take into account the format in which the course is taught, number of course meetings, and the level of interaction required by the student. During this conversation, it may be helpful for the faculty to consider the questions below.

  • What does the course description and syllabus say?
  • What elements of the class experience are used to calculate the final grade?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
  • Do student discussions and contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?

Students are also advised that they still bear the responsibility to communicate with instructors about their absences as they occur, keep up with the reading, obtain class notes from a fellow student, and make up any assignments they may have missed. Instructors are not obligated to create extra work for either the student or themselves as a substitute for “participation” in class or missed assignments. However, instructors are encouraged to consider whether there are opportunities for the student to mitigate or “make up” their absence.

Below are examples of past scenarios:

  • The student was allowed additional absences amounting to an additional week or two of course meetings beyond the published attendance policy. The student must contact the faculty or TA in the event of a disability-related absence.
  • Attendance is not taken nor required, and therefore lack of attendance does not fundamentally alter the nature of the course. The student should get notes from a classmate/collab and utilize alternative means (such as discussion section or office hours) if they have questions.
  • Attendance is not taken, but there are regular quizzes/clicker questions that the student was allowed to make up at a different time.
  • The class is entirely experiential (such as a lab), and it is not possible to recreate the classroom environment and fulfill the learning outcomes. Absences fundamentally impact the course, and therefore, additional absences beyond what is stated in the syllabus is not reasonable.