Guide to Handling Student Absences Due to a Minor Illness

Student absences are guided by Kent State University Policy 3-01.2. Section policy (3-01.2). Section J, “procedures and responsibilities for absence due to medical illness/injury,” states that the students shall “provide verification from their medical provider.”  However, many students do not seek out medical care when reporting a minor illness including flu symptoms/fever, and recover in a few days. Though a student has been ill and their absence is reasonable, documentation may not be present. Requiring documentation under these circumstances may force students to unnecessarily incur medical costs or encourage them to attend class when they are ill and possibly contagious. During flu-season and other times when there is a viral outbreak, faculty are encouraged to use flexibility and judgment when considering whether to request documentation.

The Center for Teaching and Learning is able to assist individual instructors in determining how to handle missed work, deadlines, and assignments. It is highly advisable to have a plan in place for offering reasonable accommodations for students who must miss class, assignment deadlines and exams. Several suggestions follow. If you have additional practices that you are willing to share, please use the submit a suggestion link.

Suggestions for consideration.

  1. Instructors should consider extending deadlines for assignments and exams, keeping in mind that if students are too ill to attend class, they are unlikely to be able to complete assignments, even online.
  2. Instructors may also consider makeup work or substitute assignments for missed assignments and exams. Substitute assignments should be of comparable difficulty, although they may differ in format. For example, instructors may wish to consider take-home exams, online exams, or a short answer exam rather than a multiple-choice exam. This may help to avoid compromising exam results already given.
  3. Instructors may want to consider instituting a drop policy where only the highest scores among several are included in calculating a student’s grade. For example, the highest 8 of 10 assignments or quizzes could be used for grade calculation. Missing work due to illness could then be dropped.

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