Guidance on Flexibility with Due Dates and Attendance

Guidance for Professors

At times, when a student submits a verification form to you, you may find the following statement and/or one similar to it:

This student has a documented condition that may interfere with their ability to attend class on occasion and/or complete work. The student is aware that too many absences/missed assignments can negatively affect their performance and grade for the course, and may compromise their ability to continue in the class. However, if it becomes necessary, please consider whether some flexibility of the attendance policy/due dates may be possible without compromising essential course requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to contact you about an absence and to complete any missed work or tests as soon as possible.

Position Statement from Access Services

Access Services does not have a role in determining individual course attendance policies. This is the purview of the professor/department.  

Consistent with the Academic Regulations found in Bryn Mawr’s catalog, Access Services expects students to attend all classes and complete assignments on time. However, it recognizes that some students—especially those with chronic medical conditions that may flare unexpectedly and unpredictably—may be unable to do so on occasion due to the functional limitations related to their disability. Therefore, such students may exceed, at times, the number of “allowable” absences. These students will have a statement such as the one above on their verification forms; professors are notified that the student is eligible for flexibility of attendance and/or assignment due dates, due to a chronic condition. Students are expected to present their verification forms to professors and, among other things, to determine with the professor a plan as to how disability-related absences will be handled. Students must still fulfill the essential requirements of a course. Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to keep their Deans informed about absences and to consult with them.

Assignments submitted late, due to the limitations of a disability, generally should not be subjected to a grade penalty, when that assignment is submitted within a reasonable agreed-upon time-frame between the student, dean, and professor.

What Does this Accommodation Mean?

  • If you have a student with this statement on a verification form, it means the student has presented documentation to Access Services that supports their need for this accommodation. The student is not obligated to disclose the nature of their difficulty to you.
  • This accommodation is not blanket permission for the student to miss classes and/or assume that all assignments can be submitted late.  Students are strongly encouraged to reach out to professors and deans each time an absence or extension is necessary. This is a case-by-case request/determination.
  • This accommodation only applies to disability-related absences. Absences due to athletic activities, personal obligations, religious holidays, etc., do not qualify under this accommodation.
  • While professors are encouraged to think about universal design when implementing this accommodation, they are not expected to compromise either the rigor of their class or to fundamentally alter the nature of the course.
  • In order for this accommodation to be effective, it is imperative that the student and the instructor have a shared understanding of the fundamental requirements of the class. Below are some guidelines for Professors to consider in clarifying the essential learning components of their class.

Guidelines for Determining if Class Attendance is Fundamental to Course Participation

  1. Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students, and among students?
  2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process? What is the nature of the course? Does it involve improvisational acting, gestalt counseling techniques, complex lab work or comparable pedagogical strategies?
  3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning?
  4. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend a class constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  5. What does the syllabus say about attendance?
  6. What is the method by which the final course grade is calculated?
  7. What are classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
  8. Is there a departmental attendance policy? If so, does the policy for your class correspond with it?

Guidelines for Determining if a Deadline is Fundamental to the Class

  1. Is the deadline integral to the progression of the work in the class?
  2. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon the deadline being met?
  3. Is the educational experience of the other students in the class impacted by the deadline not being met?
  4. What do the course description and syllabus say about meeting deadlines?
  5. How have you handled other students in the course not meeting deadlines?

Faculty members are encouraged to consider the answers to the above questions, as they work with students who have this accommodation. They are encouraged to make the following clear to students:

  1. When and how would you like the student to inform you of absences?
  2. What are your expectations for course attendance?
  3. How will missed work (including assignments and/or exams) be made up? 
  4. How will you let the student know about the alternate deadline for submitting the assignment(s)?

At any time, Access Services is available to consult with faculty, Deans, and/or students and to answer any questions about the implementation of this accommodation.


Contact Us

Access Services

Access Services
Eugenia Chase Guild Hall
Room 103 and 104
101 N. Merion Ave.
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010
Fax: 610-526-7451