Class Attendance

Requirements for Class Attendance Policies

A. Instructors may establish reasonable class attendance policies that make allowances for legitimate absences and which comply with legal mandates such as Wis. Admin. Code Chapter UWS 22 Accommodation of Religious Beliefs, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, specifically Section 504. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires instructors to excuse absences and accept make up work for medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. Students should contact the UW Colleges Title IX Coordinator to determine the appropriate accommodations in consultation with the faculty member.

B. Students requesting accommodations for religious beliefs should notify the instructor within the first three weeks of a semester or during the first week of a summer class or other short term course. Instructors may choose to extend this deadline.

C. If an instructor determines that a specific number of absences will affect a student's grade, the attendance policy must permit excused absences for students who qualify based on state and federal law.

D. When attendance is a required part of a course grade, an instructor must keep accurate class attendance records and provide students with information about their own attendance records if they request it.

E. A department, academic program, or campus cannot require an instructor to automatically fail a student based on a number or percentage of absences if the student would otherwise pass the course based on completed take home and required in-class coursework.

F. If students will be absent from class because of a field trips or any extracurricular activity sponsored by the UW Colleges, the instructor or other staff member in charge of the activity must confirm this for any instructors whose classes students will miss.

Make Up Work for Excused Absences

A. An instructor may require students with excused absences to make up missed in-class assignments and learning activities.

B. If in-class activities count toward a student’s grade, instructors must provide make up work when state or federal law requires accommodations for absences because of disabilities (including physical and mental health issues), pregnancy, childbirth, and religious beliefs. Qualifying students must be permitted to submit late assignments, complete graded in-class activities, and do alternate activities for required in-class participation that counts toward a course grade. In some situations, an instructor may need to assign an incomplete grade.

C. Instructors are not required to provide make up work for in-class activities when a) absences do not affect a student’s course grade or b) the instructor chooses to waive in class work for students with excused absences.

Absence Policies for a Course Syllabus

A. When attendance is required for a course, the syllabus must include a written attendance policy that explains how unexcused absences affect a student’s grade. The syllabus should also state the requirements and process for receiving an excused absence.

B. Instructors who require make up work for excused absences should include a written make up work policy in the course syllabus. When applicable, the syllabus should describe graded components of a course that are completed during class and how students can make up required in-class work for excused absences.

C. Instructors who request documentation for excused absences should include a statement about required documentation in the syllabus. Instructors cannot require documentation for students with disabilities for conditions that are already documented through an accommodation plan. Because the UW Colleges does not have a policy requiring documentation for all absences related to medical conditions, Title IX prohibits individual instructors from requiring students to submit physician’s notes for pregnancy and childbirth.

Absences for Online and Hybrid/Blended Courses

A. In an online learning environment, class attendance is defined as a student accessing the course website and engaging in online learning activities or submitting required coursework. An instructor may define attendance in additional ways to reflect the requirements of a course (for example, conferencing with the instructor or participating in group project with peers).

B. Instructors may establish a written attendance policy for participation and engagement in online learning activities. Attendance policies for online and hybrid/blended courses must follow institutional policies for excused absences, make up work, and written statements in a syllabus.