Temporary academic regulation: Student absence due to COVID-19

Similar to the spring 2020 semester, the COVID-19 pandemic requires Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to exercise flexibility and make temporary adjustments to enable faculty, staff and students the opportunity to be successful.

This temporary student absence regulation, effective for the 2020-21 academic year, is designed to align with the university’s reopening plans submitted to the state as well as provide appropriate protections for faculty and students should a student miss class, activities or assignments due to COVID-19.

This regulation provides guidance for students who are required to enter quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 and addresses how to handle disruptions in their attendance due to these circumstances. This regulation is narrowly focused as there are numerous other reasons for student absences that are beyond the scope of this regulation.

Guiding principles

VCU has instituted this regulation in good faith. As members of the VCU community, students and faculty should agree to certain guiding principles.

Students must commit to using this regulation responsibly without violating the Honor System and Standards of Academic Conduct. All students must know and understand the consequences of using this regulation improperly in light of the Honor System and Standards of Academic Conduct.

Faculty should commit to exercising flexibility and be willing to make reasonable academic adjustments to enable students the opportunity to be successful.

Attendance policies

VCU students are responsible for regular and punctual attendance in each academic experience, including lectures, discussions, field experiences, and laboratories. Faculty establish and manage their class attendance practices at their general discretion as a requisite to the successful acquisition of knowledge and skills. Students who miss any scheduled classes, activities and assignments are responsible for completing all material covered or assignments made during the absence unless otherwise designated by the faculty. Students should also be familiar with any attendance requirements for their class as published in the course syllabus.

Students are responsible for communicating any absences with their faculty and for making faculty aware that academic adjustments are needed. Faculty are expected to make academic adjustments for students who miss class for excused absence due to medical reasons.

Students should note that some faculty may have a syllabus that describes an attendance policy with a specified limit on the number of absences. While this regulation would supersede the majority of such policies, there are certain exceptions: see the frequently asked questions for specifics. Clarification with the faculty over any absences is highly encouraged.

Academic adjustments

Academic adjustments determined by faculty to be reasonable under this regulation are separate and distinct from reasonable accommodations provided to students with disabilities under the university's policy on Accessibility and Reasonable Accommodation. Students with disabilities who require accommodation should contact the Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity Office (SAEO) or Division for Academic Success (DAS). Faculty must continue to provide the reasonable accommodations for disabilities noted in an individual student's accommodation letter in addition to any academic adjustments made as a result of this regulation.

Procedures and responsibilities

Students who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or who test positive for COVID-19, or have been contacted by the health department must contact the VCU COVID-19 call center at 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843. See VCU COVID-19 reporting process.

If a student has been identified for isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19, then the following outlines the responsibilities of both the student and faculty, as well as what is required for addressing missed instruction:

Excused absence notification

Student Health Services or other health care provider will provide notification for excused absence to the student, which the student can then provide to their faculty members.

  • To respect student privacy, an absence notification should not disclose the nature of any medical issue. The notification should indicate the number of days the provider recommends a student's absence from either in-person activities only or all activities due to a medical reason.

Responsibility of student

  • Commit to using this regulation responsibly without violating the Honor System and Standards of Academic Conduct
  • Be familiar with any attendance requirements for their class as published in the course syllabus
  • Notify faculty of excused absence, provide a note from either Student Health Services or other health care provider and make faculty aware if academic adjustments are needed
  • Complete all material covered or assignments made during the absence unless otherwise designated by the faculty
    • If illness prevents completing all material covered or assignments after adjustments made, notify faculty and determine the best options for completion or temporary suspension of work
    • If the student is not able to continue learning and the absence is extended beyond 14 consecutive calendar days (Monday-Sunday), discuss options for successful completion or withdrawal from the course with their faculty and their advisor

Responsibility of faculty

  • Commit to exercising flexibility and be willing to make reasonable adjustments to enable students the opportunity to be successful
  • Accept the excused absence note with the understanding that specific medical information is not required
  • Make academic adjustments for students who miss class for excused absence due to medical reason
    • Provide students who are able to remain engaged during their quarantine or isolation period with materials to ensure continuity of learning
    • For students whose illness prevents them from remaining engaged, provide as much flexibility as possible to allow work to be made up
    • If the student is not able to continue learning and the absence is extended beyond 14 consecutive calendar days (Monday-Sunday), discuss options for successful completion or withdrawal from the course

Frequently asked questions

Additional information about this policy can be found in the answers to these frequently asked questions. This FAQ page will be updated frequently to respond to feedback about the regulation.