- How do I accommodate absences related to COVID-19?
This will depend on the circumstances of each course and student, but in general instructors should provide opportunities for students to make up work if they are unable to participate in class (whether in-person or remote/distanced) because either they are sick, quarantined, or they need to care for someone in their family or household who is sick. Depending on the severity of their symptoms, this absence may extend beyond a typical “single episode medical absence.” Instructors who are concerned that an extended absence will prevent the student from successfully completing a course should work with the student and their advisor to determine if an incomplete or medical withdrawal would be warranted.
Additionally, because of the medical and public health importance of vaccination, instructors should grant an excused absence to students who have a vaccine appointment that conflicts with a class, and should provide the opportunity to do makeup work if needed. Students must give the earliest possible advance notice of an upcoming medical appointment.
Instructors should also accommodate absences that impact a student’s ability to participate in a final exam. In addition to the above, this may include a vaccination appointment or a student experiencing negative side effects due to a vaccine. Students should complete the required final exam as soon as possible so that instructors may enter final grades. If appropriate, students may be granted an incomplete.
- What is appropriate verification for an absence related to COVID-19?
If a student becomes ill with COVID-19, quarantined, or needs to provide care to someone else who is, it is sufficient for students to communicate with the instructor via email, phone, or with UM 1886: Self-Reporting of Illness Resulting in Absence from Class. For Twin Cities faculty and instructors, see also this Guidance on Student Positive Cases.
- What if course requirements that have an impact on the course grade (such as participation in classroom discussions) cannot be made up?
If a student has a legitimate absence and has missed a class activity or assignment (e.g., small group discussion, in-class participation) that cannot be made up in exactly the same manner, the instructor may substitute another activity or assignment for the missed work. For example, some instructors have substituted participation in a blog or on-line discussion for class participation, or assigned a reflective essay. It would be up to the instructor to determine an appropriate substitution, based upon the nature of the course. If no substitution can be devised for a student who has a legitimate absence, the missing activity or assignment cannot be factored into determining that student's final course grade.
- Can the format of a makeup exam be different than that of the regular exam (e.g., open-ended vs. closed-ended questions)?
Yes. The structure of makeup exams may differ from the format of the regularly scheduled exam, and is at the instructor's discretion. The instructor has flexibility and discretion regarding the nature of makeup exams. The key point is that an instructor has provided the opportunity for makeup work due to legitimate excuses.
- Can a makeup assignment be different than the original assignment?
Yes. The course instructor may determine that the nature of the makeup assignment will differ from the original assignment. In some cases, it would not be possible for a student to complete the original assignment (e.g., to review a theatre production which the student was unable to attend), and the instructor may determine an acceptable substitute assignment. The key point is that the instructor has provided an opportunity for makeup work due to legitimate excuses.
- What is a single episode medical absence that does not require medical attention?
These episodes refer to common, short-term, medical conditions that are generally best treated through self-care and that may prevent someone from participating in class activities, but do not require a visit to a health care provider (e.g. common cold, influenza, headache, fever, etc.).
- What kind of verification is necessary for an absence that extends beyond a single episode?
Verification, for any absence, can take many different forms (e.g., accident report; UM 1886: Self-Reporting of Illness form; documentation from a doctor, dentist, or other health care provider; jury service notice; obituary notice). The verification can be provided after the absence, and would be expected as soon as reasonably possible. Instructors are not required to request verification of absence, but may do so unless otherwise prohibited by this policy.
- When can instructors require verification for a single episode medical absence?
Generally, verification is not necessary for a single missed class due to illness. Many short term illnesses do not require medical care and visiting clinics to receive medical verification for these conditions may be an unnecessary use of medical resources. In addition, for some conditions such as influenza, colds, and COVID-19, a student may be advised by their medical provider to treat symptoms at home to prevent spreading the illness to others.
Students are not required to provide medical verification when missing a single class for a medical absence unless the absence involves missing laboratory sessions, or exams or important graded in-class assignments. In these instances, it is sufficient for students to communicate with the instructor via email, phone, in person, or with UM 1886: Self-Reporting of Illness Resulting in Absence from Class. Students may submit the UM 1886: Self-Reporting of Illness form if an instructor requests verification.
- Is time away from class for lactation covered as a medical condition related to pregnancy?
Yes, students who need to miss a portion of classes or labs may be excused for up to 60 minutes dependent on designated lactation spaces available and distance from classroom. Students should do their best to minimize interruptions to class time, especially for shorter class periods. Instructors should be sensitive to lactation needs, especially for class periods exceeding three hours. In all cases, students should discuss the arrangements with their instructors. To find more information on lactation spaces available, please see the Lactation Resources Site.
- Do the excused absences for student representatives to Student Senate, University Senate and Board of Regents meetings also apply to other student government roles?
Other student governance bodies have the freedom to set their meeting times to minimize conflict with members’ classes.
- How does this policy apply to unexpected, unavoidable circumstances that are not listed in item (2) of the policy as legitimate absences?
The policy gives instructors the discretion to grant excused absences, on a case-by-case basis, upon a request from a student. An excused absence in one course is no guarantee of the same in another course. Instructors are encouraged, but not required, to be flexible in circumstances of inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances that can affect students and their dependents (e.g., unexpected school closings and day care closures).
- How does this policy apply to students who register late for a course (registration allowed without permission during first week of classes, and with instructor permission during second week)?
Students should promptly contact the instructor of any course they plan to add after the course has started. Instructors who plan to hold students accountable to make up work they missed before they were registered should inform the students of this when they approve registration, and inform the student if it will not be possible to make up some of the work (for instance, missing a quiz whose answers were already released to students, or missing an assessment on material that subsequently was examined in detail). If a class has graded work during the first two weeks of the term, and especially if some of the graded work will not be possible for a student to make up, noting this in the syllabus and class notes would be helpful, especially if late registrants are common in the course. Alternatively, the class should be set up to restrict late registration.
- Why is voting in local, state, or national elections not included as a legitimate absence in item 2 above?
Polling is offered for up to a 12-hour time period, within which a student can reasonably arrange a time to vote. Students may also arrange to vote by absentee ballot.
- How does this policy apply to students who participate in team events that are not intercollegiate athletic events?
Students who have not been officially excused from class must get permission, in advance, from the instructor to miss class and make up the work. Instructors are not compelled to accommodate students who miss class for participation in athletic events or other university-sponsored events that are not intercollegiate athletic events. Such teams (e.g., recreational sports teams, club sports, debate team) that wish to have the team officially excused from classes for a specific event under exceptional circumstances can seek permission from the senior academic officer for the campus. Such requests should be submitted as far in advance as possible, and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- How does this policy apply to students participating in educational experiences, such as a student government conference, or a competition, where the student is representing the University of Minnesota?
Under these circumstances, the instructor has the discretion about whether to allow a student to miss a class session and to make arrangements for any makeup work. The instructor is permitted to do so, but is not obligated to do so.
- The policy mentions "bereavement." For what relationships would bereavement apply in this policy?
The death of a family member is typically included in the absences related to bereavement circumstances. In addition, there may be other bereavement circumstances when a student is affected by the death of a person who was close to the student, and was not a relative (for example, the death of a roommate or friend). The student is responsible for explaining the circumstances and requesting to be able to make up the work. Instructors should consider the factors surrounding the bereavement, including cultural practices and distance traveled. A student need not have travel to attend services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions may not allow students to travel or attend services, but bereavement leave may still be needed to provide students time to grieve.
- Can attending a wedding or a graduation ceremony be considered an excused absence?
It is at the instructor’s discretion whether attending a wedding or a graduation ceremony is considered a legitimate absence for which makeup work would be accommodated. Attending a wedding is not in itself an automatically excused absence. Being part of a wedding party, or you yourself getting married, is not automatically an excused absence.
- Is a family vacation considered an excused absence?
It is at the instructor’s discretion whether a family vacation is considered a legitimate absence for which makeup work would be accommodated.
- What are students' options if they believe they have been wrongly denied the opportunity to make up work due to disagreement with the instructor about the legitimacy or unavoidability of an absence?
Students can seek advice from their academic advisers about options. As one option, students may bring their concerns to the appropriate department head or director of undergraduate/graduate studies or professional program director.
Twin Cities students may also choose to consult with the Student Conflict Resolution Center (SCRC) for advice and guidance. The SCRC assists students with resolving problems, and an ombudsperson in the SCRC can provide confidential guidance about possible options. See the Student Conflict Resolution Center website for SCRC contact information.
- Is there an official list of religious observances related to legitimate absences?
For questions about religious observances in general, as well as questions related to religious observances around bereavement or weddings or other events, the Office for Equity and Diversity can provide helpful guidance. Also, the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Religious/Spiritual Holiday schedule is available on the UMN Google Calendar site.