Modified attendance is defined as occasional exceptions to absentee/tardiness policies when educationally feasible. Students are expected and encouraged to attend class. Faculty have a right to establish attendance policies. However, modification of attendance policies and making up missed work may be appropriate accommodations for some students with disabilities.
Students who are most likely to request modified attendance policies are those with chronic health-related disabilities that flare up episodically. This might include students with lupus or fibromyalgia, sickle cell anemia, seizure disorders, cancer, migraines, and conditions requiring dialysis. Students with mental health disabilities may experience an exacerbation of symptoms that adversely impact class attendance. Such students typically do not go to the doctor when feeling poorly and might not be able to provide a doctor’s note for each absence.
Federal law requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of attendance policies if required to accommodate a student’s disability. In making this determination, two questions must be answered:
- Does the student have a documented disability that directly affects his/her ability to attend class on a regular basis? Disability Resource Center (DRC) will make this determination based on documentation of functional limitations and need for accommmodation.
- Is attendance an essential part of the class? Would modification of attendance policies result in a fundamental alteration of the curriculum? Faculty make this determination in consultation with the DRC.
When Is Modified Attendance Not Reasonable?
There are some classes in which the attendance policy cannot be adjusted for an individual student without resulting in fundamental changes to the course design. These tend to be classes in which the course relies upon regular classroom interaction between instructors and/or students as an essential method for learning. These can also be classes in which student learning is sequentially and directly assessed in the classroom, thereby making attendance an essential requirement for the course. In such cases, or if absences become excessive, a Course Withdrawal may be an appropriate option.
Some students may register with the DRC late in the term or wait to give instructors notification of their accommodations. In such cases, instructors are not expected to provide accommodations retroactively.
Process for Use of Modified Attendance
- Student submits an Accommodation Request through DRC Online Services, selecting Modified Attendance for each class in which it may be needed.
- DRC emails a Notification of Accommodation to each instructor.
- DRC works with the instructor to determine if use of the accommodation would be appropriate for the class. If so, the Attendance Agreement Form is completed to outline how the class attendance policy will be modified for the student. This agreement form will be signed by the instructor and returned to the DRC within 3 business days of receipt.
- DRC sends a copy of the Attendance Agreement Form to the student once it is received back from the instructor. DRC, the student, and the instructor will all receive a copy of the agreement.
- If the student has concerns or questions regarding what the course instructor has indicated in the agreement, DRC will resolve these issues with conversations between instructor and/or student.
- Meet all core learning objectives for each course, including course material covered or work done during any absences.
- Keep up with the class and complete all coursework. The accommodation of modified attendance does not mean the student will automatically get an extension for work that is due on a day that they are absent.
- Inform students of their class attendance policy.
- Engage in the interactive process with DRC to discuss modifications to the class attendance policy.
- Establish clear expectations of how classroom attendance, missed quizzes/exams, assignment deadlines, and instructor notification will be handled in case of disability-necessitated absences.