Providing Attendance Accommodations

Students are expected to attend class and as faculty, you have a right to establish attendance policies. Your policy should be communicated at the first class meeting via the course syllabus or other written document. More information can be found in the Academic Policy for Attendance Absence of Students.  

Certain students registered with Student Disability Services may be eligible for an attendance accommodation in accordance with federal disability law. Due to the nature of the student’s disability, establishing individualized attendance expectations may be a reasonable accommodation. In some instances, modifying class attendance requirements may be a fundamental alteration of the course and therefore cannot be reasonably provided.

Eligible students must submit a formal request each semester before the accommodation can begin. You will be notified of a student’s eligibility by receiving a Faculty Notification Letter.

How SDS Determines Attendance Accommodations

An attendance accommodation may be reasonable if the functional limitation of the student’s disability impacts their ability to attend class due to its episodic nature or intensive treatment regimen. To be eligible for this accommodation students must complete registration with Student Disability Services and provide verifying documentation of the necessity for the accommodation.

Verifying Disability Related Absences

A student’s diagnosis is considered private health information. In many cases students may not seek out medical care for each individual health crisis or flare-up. As faculty, you should not request medical documentation to verify student absences. Student Disability Services can assist with verifying medically related class absences.

Completing the Attendance Accommodation Form

After a student has requested an attendance accommodation for your course, you will receive an email prompting you to complete an Attendance Accommodation Form. The purpose of this form is to communicate plans for providing the accommodation. The information provided applies to all students enrolled in the course section who have an attendance accommodation. You may also complete the form by visiting your SAM: Students Accessing Miami Faculty Portal and selecting your course from the “Handy Tools -- Class Instructions” dropdown menu.

If you receive a form you are expected to complete it so eligible students are aware of your expectations. Information entered into the form will also be referenced in the event of any concerns about a student’s class attendance. Once completed, SDS will review and confirm the agreement. Both you and the student will receive email confirmation.

Important Questions to Consider

How do I determine if an attendance accommodation is appropriate for my course?

When determining if attendance is an essential course element one should consider the overall course curriculum versus individual faculty preferences.

If the course design more easily allows for the student to obtain the missed information or show comprehension of core concepts by alternative means the course may be more appropriate for an attendance accommodation. Depending on the nature of the course curriculum, there may be instances in which additional absences above course policy are not appropriate, or where the essential elements of the course cannot be met if additional absences are incurred.

Is the course practical or experiential in nature?

For certain courses, class absences may fundamentally alter the curriculum because the purpose of the course is for students to learn and demonstrate mastery in an experiential or practical setting. This factor should be considered for the following course types: labs, studio courses, field placements and clinical practicums.

In some instances, attendance accommodations can be provided in these course settings within reasonable limits. We encourage you to consider the overall curriculum of the course when determining if a limited amount of absences can be permitted without fundamentally altering the student’s ability to demonstrate mastery of concepts in a practical setting.

How often does my course meet?

Courses that meet on a more frequent schedule may allow more opportunity for students to catch up on missed work and coordinate arrangements to master concepts taught during an absence. If the course is offered in a condensed time frame (e.g. sprint courses) or has a limited number of class meetings it may be more difficult to allow additional absences without compromising a student’s ability to master fundamental course concepts.

Is in class participation an essential component of the learning process or course grade?

Certain courses (e.g. seminars, discussion based) are structured in a manner where in class participation is integral to the learning process or final grade. In such cases, attendance is important for students to actively engage and demonstrate participation in the course. There may be limited flexibility that can be given for attendance when in class participation is an essential course component. This component should be clearly articulated in your course syllabus and/or course description.

How does establishing an attendance policy influence implementation of this accommodation?

We strongly recommend establishing an attendance policy that is communicated via your syllabus or other written document. The absence of a stated policy makes it difficult for students to ascertain your expectations for attendance and the extent to which it is essential for the course. The presence of an attendance policy also provides a baseline for where to begin accommodating eligible students. You may determine that a specified number of additional absences can be reasonably provided as an accommodation. In some instances, your policy may already be generous to the extent that any additional absences would fundamentally alter the course.