Guidance for Flexibility in Attendance and Assignment Deadlines

This webpage is not intended to replace vital instructor-student discussion; instead, it aims to provide context and guidance for establishing this complex arrangement. AEC is the appropriate resource for instructors in this process. If you feel that you will be unable to provide this accommodation, please contact AEC.

Students with disabilities are approved for flexibility in attendance and/or assignment deadlines when strong medical documentation warrants the accommodation(s). These accommodations provide students opportunities to demonstrate mastery of course knowledge, even when disability limits their ability to attend class and/or meet deadlines. Accommodations are not intended to sacrifice essential course goals or to place an undue burden on instructors. Rather, these accommodations ask instructors to:

  • understand when grade penalties for class absences and/or missed assignment deadlines may be inappropriate for students with disabilities
  • consider alternative assignment formats to allow all students to demonstrate course knowledge

When there is a disability that is directly connected with concerns related to in-person attendance, AEC needs to individually assess each request to determine if there is a reasonable accommodation that does not fundamentally alter the nature of the course. This individualized assessment looks different than it did pre-COVID given recent remote instruction experiences.

Guidance for Flexibility in Attendance

Prior to meeting with a student, it is helpful for instructors to clarify the role of attendance and in-class participation. The following questions can help clarify limits around attendance:

  • Is attendance factored in as part of the final course grade?
  • How much interaction is there between the instructor and students and among students?
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the course rely on student participation as a significant method for learning? (i.e., attendance and/or their assignment (project) contributions.)
  • Is there content only offered in class?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class or do an assignment on time compromise the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • Are assignments used as class content when they are due? (i.e., problem sets reviewed as the first lecture on that content)

When assignments are missed due to disability, instructors should be as flexible as possible without weakening specific course goals. If a missed assignment impacts a student or their classmates’ ability to move forward with class materials or to receive instructor feedback, then there may be less room for flexibility.

Flexibility in Assignment Deadlines

Generally, flexibility within a few days of an assignment deadline or exam is reasonable for students who receive flexibility in assignment deadlines. Occasionally, more time is appropriate depending on the nature of the assignment and the requirements of the course.

AEC encourages students to communicate accommodation needs early in the term. However, students may register with the AEC at any time. When a student registers with AEC later in the term, instructors use discretion in determining if it is possible to offer accommodations retroactively, for example, waiving absence penalties, or offering opportunities to demonstrate course knowledge from missed days. AEC encourages instructors to consider doing so, especially if instructors can reach a clear understanding with a student regarding make-up deadlines.

To reiterate, AEC is the appropriate resource for instructors in this process. If you feel that you will be unable to provide this accommodation, please contact AEC.