Temporary Absences

Temporary (Short-Term) Absences

During the semester a student may have a short-term situation that may result in a temporary interruption of a student's academic life. 

Regardless of the type of temporary absence, it is important to note that faculty make the ultimate decision regarding excusing absences in their classes. Students are advised to consult their course syllabus, keep up with coursework as much as their health allows, and contact their individual faculty (beforehand or upon return to campus) to obtain information on how absences will be handled for each class or to discuss the possibility for make-up work. 

The information below will minimize the impact and disruption to the educational process and ensure faculty are provided rationale for a student’s absences while preserving the integrity of the delivery of academic coursework.


Events that may result in a temporary (short-term) absence:

  • Students seeking treatment and/or recovering from a medical or mental health event.
  • Students are away from campus for a family emergency/crisis.
  • Short-term hospitalization.


Documentation for Temporary Leave

Prior to acting on behalf of a student to notify faculty of a temporary absence window:

  • A student’s Class Dean will request documentation (e.g., documentation from a licensed health care provider, an obituary, etc.) supporting the requested temporary absence.
  • If supporting documentation is not readily available, the Class Dean will inform a student’s faculty of their temporary leave while explaining that the Undergraduate Dean’s Office is awaiting supporting documentation.  


Serious Illness or Medical Condition

If, in the judgment of Bryn Mawr College’s Medical Services staff, a student will be out of class due to a serious illness or medical condition (as opposed to a common illness) including but not limited to:

  • Mononucleosis, which may require bed rest and/or removal from campus
  • Hospitalization and/or surgery
  • Highly contagious diseases (e.g., chicken pox, measles)

the following protocol will take place:

  • The Medical Services staff will contact the student’s Class Dean.
  • The Class Dean will then contact the student’s faculty.
  • The Medical Services communication to the Class Dean will serve as the documentation needed by the Class Dean. 
  • If the student is seeing an off-campus health care provider, the student will provide relevant documentation from that provider to the College’s Medical Services staff for review.

Mental Health Concerns

A temporary absence window for mental health concerns will be provided for acute mental health issues and are not the result of a student being in on-going treatment at the Counseling Services or with an off-campus mental health provider. The College’s intent is to ensure our students are able to fully commit to their academic endeavors by providing a robust set of college services designed to support the mental health needs of our students.

  • If a student needs to miss class for reasons related to their mental health, they are encouraged to be in contact with Counseling Services.
  • Students will provide Counseling Services with appropriate documentation from their external mental health provider.
  • Upon review of this documentation, Counseling Services staff may support a student’s short-term absence and communicate with a student’s Class Dean following a student’s written permission to do so.

If the duration of the short-term absence, due to acute mental health concerns, undermines the student’s ability to complete the academic work required, Counseling Services and the Undergraduate Dean’s Office may encourage the student to pursue a leave from the College.

Family Emergency

A temporary absence as a result of a family emergency (e.g., a death in the family or a family member suddenly falling severely ill) is appropriate when unexpected circumstances arise that necessitate a brief absence from classes. Family emergencies will be reviewed by a student’s Class Dean on a case-by-case basis. It is possible that a student may be required to provide appropriate documentation to support their request for a temporary absence.

If a family emergency occurs:

  • A student is requested to contact their Class Dean immediately to communicate what has occurred. 
  • If warranted, the Class Dean will then contact the faculty to make them aware of what has occurred. 
  • It is also possible that the Class Dean will inquire with each faculty member to evaluate how a student is performing in class to better understand the impact of a temporary absence on a student’s academic performance.


Student Support Services

When a student encounters health or medical issues, mental health concerns, and/or family emergency, it’s very possible that faculty may also receive communication from Student Support Services, in addition to the Class Dean. The Assistant Director of Student Support Services in these situations will often assist a student by emailing faculty and offer support for any flexibility that may be provided as the student works to balance their wellness needs and academic responsibilities. The Assistant Director communicates to the student that it is up to the discretion of the faculty to determine if and how they provide flexibility. It is also communicated to the student that it is their responsibility to follow-up, in a timely manner, with faculty about any specific request.