What it Means to Be Reasonable, Flexible and Equitable When Students are Required to Quarantine or Isolate Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

What it Means to Be Reasonable, Flexible and Equitable

When Students are Required to Quarantine or Isolate

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some of our students being required to quarantine or isolate for a specific number of days. Students in quarantine have been exposed to COVID-19, while students in isolation have tested positive for the virus. Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 can manifest a wide range of symptoms. Likewise, students react differently to the challenges of life in quarantine. During this time, student absences are understandable and expected. Now, more than ever, all instructors should be open and responsive to students who report that they will need to be absent from class.

Early in the university’s response to COVID-19, guidance for handling student absences was developed and shared with instructors:


The pandemic continues and now flu season is upon us. Below are some additional considerations to help manage absences when students are required to spend time in quarantine or isolation, suffer from illness, or face a personal situation that requires them to be absent. Always be reasonable, flexible, and equitable in our interactions with students when they need to miss class. 


  • Relaxing your requirements for documentation of absences.   
  • Offering flexible attendance policies.
  • Offering flexible assignment deadlines.
  • Offering opportunities for students to revise and resubmit work.
  • Adding a provision to your syllabus that permits students options to drop an assignment, grade, quiz during the semester.
  • Using mastery grading for assignments/exams for a limited time. In other words, if they have enough knowledge to move on to the next unit of material, you could consider dropping a “grade” from your calculations for that student. 
  • Speaking to students about the availability and advisability of the P/F option and suggesting that they seek guidance from an advisor.
  • Advising students on whether an INCOMPLETE grade may be best for their situation. We have a fair amount of latitude in supporting an IN grade - let’s use it.
  • Providing asynchronous options for students to learn the material. These options may include recording a lecture, completing in class assignments independently or with assistance.
  • Offering to speak with them individually (through Teams, a phone call, etc.) to assist them in succeeding.


  • Assuming that there is widespread abuse of more lenient policies as described in the considerations above.
  • Demanding documentation of COVID-related illness, quarantine or isolation. Some students may use the adjustment form to communicate their status to you, others may not. 
  • Making intrusive inquiries about health, the severity of the illness, etc.
  • Assuming that because someone is young, their symptoms will be less severe. COVID-19 manifests differently across individuals.
  • Appearing to be uncaring, judgmental or impatient.