Reasonable Limited Attendance Adjustments

 Absences from Class and Class Attendance General Policy

 It is the policy of Appalachian State University that class attendance is an important part of a student’s educational experience. Students are expected to attend every meeting of their classes and are responsible for class attendance. Regardless of what reasons there may be for absences, students are accountable for all academic activities, and faculty may require special work or tests to make up for the missed class or classes. In addition, faculty members are encouraged to make reasonable accommodations for students requesting to miss class due to the observance of religious holidays.

Faculty, at their discretion, may include class attendance as a criterion in determining a student’s final grade in the course. On the first day of class, faculty must inform students of their class attendance policy and the effect of that policy on their final grade; both policies must be clearly stated in the class syllabus.

A student who does not attend a class during one of its first two meetings may, at the discretion of the academic department, lose their seat in that class. Further, if a class meets only one time per week-e.g., a laboratory or an evening class-the student must attend the first meeting of that class or risk losing her or his seat.

The Office of the Dean of Students within Student Affairs is designated office to Class Absence Notification of absences due to acute events such as surgeries, hospitalizations, or death of an immediate family member. Absence notifications from the Office of the Dean of Students cannot officially excuse absences.

Reasonable Limited Attendance Adjustments

All students are responsible for fulfilling essential course/program/degree requirements including overall expectations and essential requirements related to attendance, participation, and engagement

However, some students have serious health related disabilities that when the effects become particularly severe on a periodic, but irregular basis prevent an individual from getting to class. 

The Office of Disability Resources (ODR) may determine Limited Attendance Adjustments as a reasonable academic adjustment listed on a student’s Accommodation Plan when a disability intermittently prevents them from physically attending class. Limited Attendance Adjustments do not permit unlimited absences but provide flexbility to allow for alternative opportunities for students to satisfy these requirements. Such adjustments are generally not applied retroactively.

Students remain accountable for all academic activities (assignments, assessments, required readings, etc.) and evaluation standards specified on the syllabus. Seasonal illness (ie. flu, mono), temporary impairments, health conditions not on record with ODR or non-disability related absences are not subject to reasonable attendance adjustments.

In most cases, class attendance is critical to a student’s mastery of the knowledge and skills that are taught in a specific course and students are expected to follow the attendance policy established by the instructor in each class. It is not reasonable for the University to fundamentally alter, waive or lower essential course requirements, academic standards, or educational experiences/outcomes when attempting to accommodate course absences.

The University can often find reasonable, equivalent options for students without compromising course standards. These options should be determined on a case-by-case basis in consideration of the disability’s anticipated impact on attendance, the course requirements and faculty expectations.

Some options that may be considered as an equivalent alternative for an absence:

  • Completion of equivalent alternative work.

  • Attendance to other course sections.

  • Reviewing of missed content during office hours.

  • Obtaining missed content from a classmate.

  • Attending class remotely (ie.: live video conferencing such as Zoom).

  • Alternate participation via discussion board or forum activities

  • Alternate option/availability to make up time

Faculty should complete a Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Questionnaire when additional attendance flexibility beyond what all students are provided is needed due to the impact of a student’s disability. This not intended to negotiate eligibility for the accommodation, but rather to determine to what degree attendance is essential and if equivalent alternative options exist.

Excessive absences, even with an approved ODR attendance accommodation, may require a student to explore options such as a Medical Class Load Reduction (Student Health Services) or a University Withdrawal or request an incomplete directly with faculty.

Is Attendance Essential

The Office for Civil Rights has provided the following guidelines when determining if attendance is an essential course requirement:

  • What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?

  • To what extent is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?

  • Do student contributions in class 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 constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class?

  • What elements of the course  are used to calculate the final course grade?

After a comprehensive examination of the essential course objectives and consideration of equivalent alternatives, the ultimate decision regarding attendance and the resulting influence absences would have on the course will be made. 

In general, courses that involve significant interaction, in-class participation, or whose content mastery is reliant on attendance may limit what adjustment options are available. Examples of these courses may include:

  • Labs

  • Practicums

  • Internships

  • Foreign language learning

  • Math

  • Public speaking/communications

 Student Responsibilities

  • Consider disability related needs when choosing courses and developing a class schedule, for example, scheduling classes at a certain time of day, scheduling breaks between classes, etc.

  • Carefully review the syllabus for each course to learn the essential course requirements and the attendance requirements.

  • Complete a Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan with faculty for every course and submit to ODR once the Accommodation Plan has been requested for faculty via the online module so that course specific adjustments can be determined.

  • Make efforts to attend every course meeting.

  • Contact faculty and ODR ( regarding disability-related absences preventing the student from physically attending class. 

  • Complete and stay current with all required coursework and obtain missed materials/notes.

  • Understand that even with reasonable attendance adjustments, grades and content mastery could be negatively impacted by not attending class.

  • Contact ODR if there is concern after discussing attendance adjustments with  faculty.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Clearly examine essential course requirements

  • Have established attendance requirements for their courses stated via the syllabus.

  • Faculty should closely examine essential course requirements, and consult with ODR to determine reasonable course specific adjustments.

  • Communicate and document how to implement the ODR approved course adjustments with their students

  • Faculty have the responsibility to engage in the interactive process by completing the Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan