Guidelines for Accommodating Class Attendance and Academic Deadlines for Occasional Disability Related Instances

All students are responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements of courses/programs/degrees. However, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes that issues related to disabilities, such as chronic medical conditions, conditions that are episodic in nature or conditions that may require hospitalization, may impact attendance and the student’s ability to meet deadlines. Under such circumstances, flexible application of these requirements may be considered a reasonable accommodation under the law.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided guidance on how a student is protected under disability law and the important role the instructor plays in determining what is reasonable.

The Center for Accessibility Resources & Services  (CARS) policy for accommodating class attendance and academic deadlines has been vetted through Massachusetts Community College Legal Counsel.

  • Class attendance is a general requirement for all students.
  • Faculty may establish reasonable class attendance requirements and academic deadlines, which are applicable to all students.
  • Any accommodation related to class attendance policy or academic deadlines requires interactive dialogue between the student, the Center for Accessibility Resources & Services and the instructor.
  • Where class attendance and/or academic deadlines are essential requirements of a course, the ADA does not require the alteration or modification of such essential course requirements.
  • Where a student seeks attendance or academic deadline accommodations, documentation must be presented to CARS. An individualized assessment will then be made in consultation with the faculty member.
  • CARS will engage in an interactive process with the student and the instructor concerning the accommodation request.
  • A student will be approved for this accommodation after they have submitted documentation to support their request.
  • This accommodation does not provide an automatic flexibility throughout the semester.  This accommodation is for occasional disability related flexibility, which is determined on an instance by instance basis.
  • A student may be approved for: Flexibility with class attendance for occasional disability related instances or Flexibility with academic deadlines for occasional disability related instances or both.
  • Each semester for which this accommodation is requested and approved, a Disability Services Specialist at the  Center for Accessibility Resources & Services reviews with the student a Statement of Understanding for Accommodating Class Attendance and/or Academic Deadlines for Occasional Disability Related Instances. A copy of this is available upon request.
  • Where a student has received an accommodation concerning class attendance or an academic deadline, a student should not be penalized for absences or late work associated with his/her disability.  However, even if an absence is due to a disability, such absences may well impact a student’s grade, particularly if the class grade includes an element of participation, in-class exercises, quizzes and/or written assignments. 
  • A student bears the responsibility of completing and/or making-up all missed class assignments and activities even if an absence or missed deadline is due to a disability.
  • It is recommended that CARS and the student coordinate contact with the student’s instructors before classes begin or as early as possible in the semester to determine the impact of an accommodation in a specific class.
  • If a student comes to CARS with a request for an accommodation for class attendance and/or academic deadlines after the start of the semester, reasonable time must be allowed for an individual assessment to be made. If documentation supports this request, the accommodation will be provided going forward, not retroactively. 
  • There might be a point at which a student has missed too many classes to be able to make up the work and progress successfully through the course. Under those circumstances the student, faculty member and the Center for Accessibility Resources & Services should discuss what options are available, including withdrawal from the course or the awarding of a grade of incomplete. It is the instructor’s decision whether or not to offer an incomplete.