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Flexible Attendance & Assignment Due Dates Guidelines and Forms

Federal law requires that colleges and universities consider flexibility with course attendance policies as well as flexibility with assignment due dates as reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.

SDS’ role is to determine accommodations on behalf of students in consideration of disability-related needs, current legal precedent, and best practice. SDS will inform faculty when flexibility with attendance and/or flexibility with due dates have been determined as reasonable accommodations.

The role of a faculty member is to consider attendance and due dates and the extent to which flexibility can be made without compromising essential components of the course or fundamentally altering the curriculum. Flexible attendance and/or due dates are made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with SDS.

While class attendance is generally one of many important learning components within a course and due dates are set to assess the progression of learning in a timely manner, there is usually room for some amount of flexibility with each. The amount of flexibility, however, is dependent on the nature of each course. The following questions can be helpful to consider when making a determination:

  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
  • What does the course description and syllabus say?
  • How is the final grade calculated?
  • To what degree does a student’s absence constitute a significant loss to the education experience in the class?

Students are aware that attendance may be more critical in courses where learning may largely take place through participation, group activities, lab work, online discussions, etc. and when it is more difficult to re-create, simulate, or make up at a later date. In situations such as these, flexibility may be more limited.

Similarly, students are aware that for some assignments, flexibility with due dates may be more limited, as certain learning objectives may be dependent on timely completion of assignments in order to make effective progress in the course. For example, there may be situations when current assignments rely on previous ones, or discussion posts are only relevant for a specific period of time, or there’s group work or other hard deadlines, etc.

To ensure a fully transparent and interactive process, SDS encourages students and faculty to meet and discuss the specific accommodation(s) alongside any relevant course policies, requirements, and/or expectations in order to determine and clarify the extent to which the accommodation(s) can or cannot be reasonably made in consideration of the essential course components.

To record any reasonable adjustments to an attendance policy, please refer to and use the Flexible Attendance Accommodation Form. To record any reasonable extensions on assignments, please refer to and use the Flexible Assignment Due Dates Accommodation Form.

SDS staff are available to consult with faculty and students on issues that may arise surrounding the provision of the accommodation(s) and to facilitate the completion of the form(s) as is necessary. Please inform SDS if consultation is needed.

Students are not required to share any specific information about their disability with their instructor as part of this discussion as this information is considered confidential.

All students should be held accountable to the same standards, expectations, and requirements of the course with or without reasonable accommodations.