As coronavirus looms, a look at the university’s absence policy

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Kirk Smith/THE REVIEW
After days of being sick with the flu, one university student was eager to get back to class. She instead met a rude awakening.

BY
Staff Reporter

After days of being sick with the flu, one university student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was eager to get back to class. She instead met a rude awakening.

“[The professor] basically said if you aren’t dying in the hospital it won’t be excused,” the student said. The Review granted anonymity to the student because she is still enrolled in that class and giving her name could damage her standing with the professor.

The professor was acting according to university policies. The university’s Absence Policy states:

“Absences due to serious illness of the student (e.g., hospitalization, surgery, mental illness, or protracted medical illness or convalescence) shall be recognized as excused absences. To validate such absences, the student should present evidence of the illness to the Assistant Dean’s Office of their college. Supportive evidence will be provided on the student’s request by Student Health Services directly to the respective Assistant Dean.”

This policy requires much effort on any student’s behalf to get their absences excused. A student needs to give proof of being sick, reach out to their Assistant Dean and contact all professors about missing classes and making up work.

All of these actions are in hopes that the student will be able to come back to class healthy and caught up with their work.

With the coronavirus spreading throughout the world, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have spoken out about precautionary measures to take to avoid getting ill. Instructions include staying home when sick.

On March 6 the university sent out a mass email encouraging students to stay home if they feel sick, responding in particular to the coronavirus.

This email encourages students to rest and attempt to get better without infecting their peers. But the university still allows professors to have the final say in a sickness-related absence excusal.

The absence policy states that with a note from an Assistant Dean one’s absence should be excused. The policy does not indicate that professors have the final say over an excused absence after the Assistant Dean has approved it.

After the student reached out to their Assistant Dean with the proper paperwork and was granted an approved excused absence one of their professors denied them from being excused.

Despite being excused with a legitimate illness their professor still did not grant them an excuse. The student explained that their professor did not grant them an excusal because they were not hospitalized for a number of days. However, they were sick with the flu for multiple days.

Considering the rise of coronavirus, can students expect to be a part of their daily class schedule with the inevitable spread of illness?

“We understand that it is the professors decision to excuse absences,” the email to students stated.

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