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When was the University’s Class Attendance Policy updated?

The Class Attendance Policy for enrolled students at UNC Chapel Hill was updated in February 2018 when Faculty Council passed Resolution 2018-1 (On Amending the Policy on University Approved Absences).  The policy explains what constitutes a University Approved Absence and requires instructors to provide a reasonable accommodation to allow students a fair and equitable experience in the course.  Please share this information with all instructors in your division/department.

The purpose of the policy is not to limit a professor’s ability to work with a student on any absence, even those included in the policy. It is simply to provide extra advocacy for students who experience an absence that meets the criteria of the 3 categories noted in the policy.

Does the Class Attendance Policy apply to every class absence?

The updated policy DOES NOT apply to every class absence.  There are three specific categories of approved absences as described in the current University Catalog:

  1. Authorized university activities
  2. Disability/religious observance/pregnancy, as required by law and approved by Accessibility Resources and Service (ARS) and/or the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC)
  3. Significant health condition and/or personal/family emergency as approved by the Dean of Students, Gender Violence Service Coordinators, and/or the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC).

Who determines what an authorized university activity is?

University authorized activities are determined by the Educational Policy Committee.  The Educational Policy Committee is comprised of elected faculty. For more information, please visit the Office of Faculty Governance website.

What are examples of authorized university activities?

Authorized university activities include those activities that require a student’s participation on particular dates when representing the University, such as student body president to a national student government conference or NCAA varsity sports.

Currently, notifications for NCAA events are still being sent from the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes.  The plan is for all University Approved Absence notifications to come from a single sources, the University Approve Absence Office, to improve clarity and efficiency.

Examples of activities that are not considered University Approved Absences:

Conference presentations that are not invited
Presentations at local and regional conferences
Graduate school interviews
Olympic trials
Conferences and activities associated with student activities
Travel by an entire class to visit a research site, conference, etc.

While these events do not fall under the criteria for a UAA, they are still legitimate requests by students.  Faculty are encouraged to work with students on absences that are not University Approved.

Do I need a University Approved Absence every time I miss class?

No.  When a student has a University Approved Absence the instructor is not required to ask them for an official notice from the University Approve Absence Office. For example, if a student tells an instructor that they will be absent for religious observance, the instructor may work with them on an accommodation for the absence without needing an official notice from the UAAO.  Instructors have the authority to make academic adjustments without official notice from the University Approved Absence Office. It is not required for professors to receive a University Approved Absence notification in order to work with a student.

University Approved Absences will not be approved for commonly occurring illnesses or minor injuries (i.e. general doctor’s appointments, strep throat, upper respiratory infection, migraines, ear infection, cold, stomach bug, pink eye, sprained ankle, etc.). Please work directly with your instructor to navigate absences for these reasons.

Will instructors be informed why I have a University Approved Absence?

When an instructor receives a University Approved Absence notification from the UAAO, the reason for the absence will not be provided.

What are examples of significant health conditions and personal or family emergency?

Examples of a significant health condition may include (but are not limited to):

  • emergency surgery, hospitalization, severe communicable diseases that require isolation (i.e. measles, mumps, tuberculosis, varicella), a severe injury/condition that affects mobility and/or cognition, or acute exacerbation of a chronic mental health issue.

Examples of a personal emergency/family emergency may include (but are not limited to):

  • the death or acute onset of a life-threatening illness of an immediate family member, direct exposure to or involvement in a current or recently occurring personal traumatic event, or a dramatic and sudden change to life circumstances.

What about common illnesses like the flu?

When students have common illnesses like the flu, professors have the authority to work with them on their absence.  University Approved Absences are reserved for significant health conditions, and flu like symptoms do not always meet the criteria.  We encourage professors to take into account common illnesses and work directly with students when possible.

The University Approved Absence Office does not approve of commonly occurring illness such as colds, ear infections, migraines, upper respiratory infections, strep throat, stomach bugs, pink eye, sprained ankles and the like.  While the UAAO cannot approve absences for these commonly occurring illnesses, that does not mean you may be ill and need to miss class.  It means you need to work directly with your professors on these absences as noted in the Class Attendance Policy.

I’m having Covid-19 symptoms, what do I do?

Students should use the Campus Health screening tool to assess their status every day. Campus Health can be reached through the Healthy Heels Patient Portal or by calling 919-966-2281. Campus Health provides symptomatic COVID-19 testing for students, graduate and professional students and post-doctoral fellows.

Undergraduate students who are on-campus, attending in-person classes or coming to campus must monitor your symptoms daily.  If you answer yes to any of these symptoms, immediately contact Campus Health.

Graduate, professional and post-doctoral students are expected to monitor your symptoms daily. If you answer yes to any of these symptoms, immediately contact Campus Health.

COVID-19 Community Standards symptom list:
• Have you had recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
• Do you have new muscle aches not related to another medical condition or another specific activity (e.g., due to physical exercise)?
• Do you feel like you may have a temperature of greater than 100.0°F?
• Do you have sore throat, runny nose and/or congestion not related to another medical condition (e.g., allergies)?
• Do you have a new or worsening cough that is not related to another medical condition?
• Do you have shortness of breath that is not attributable to another medical condition?
• Do you have recent (<5 days) loss of smell and/or taste?
• Do you have new onset of vomiting or diarrhea not related to another medical condition?

If you answer yes to any of the questions above, do not attend class, work or other in-person campus activities and contact your medical provider. 

Students can access Campus Health at 919-966-2281 or via the Healthy Heels Patient Portal.

I have been told by a medical professional I need to quarantine or isolate, does this qualify for UAAs?

Any student asked or required to quarantine or isolate due to Covid-19 is eligible for a University Approved Absence for any classes missed.  If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and/or instructed to isolate or quarantine by a medical professional, and this inhibits your ability to attend classes in-person or complete coursework, you can submit a request to the University Approved Absence Office (UAAO) for University Approved Absences (UAA)

It is your choice to request UAAs and not every student in isolation or quarantine may want or need them (for example, if you feel well enough to attend classes remotely, or if a faculty member is working with you directly to excuse your absence without notification from the UAAO).

On occasion, students may be asked by Campus Health to limit their activities instead of being told to quarantine or isolate.  This does not require a University Approved Absence and faculty should be working with these students on an individual basis.

Please note that UAA’s apply only to class absences, not to your employment.  Make sure you reach out to your work supervisor to let them know you will be unable to work.  If you are a part-time, full-time, or temporary employee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you can contact the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic.

Documentation Requirements

To minimize your need to provide additional documentation about your quarantine or isolation, Campus Health will work directly with the University Approved Absence Office to verify your request.  While your request is being processed, make sure to communicate with your instructors that you will be unable to attend class for the time-period you will be quarantined/isolated.  If you were seen by an off-campus provider, we ask that you contact Campus Health to let them know of your medically ordered isolation or quarantine.

If you were seen by an off-campus provider (a non-Campus Health provider), we ask that you contact Campus Health to let them know of your medically ordered isolation or quarantine and submit supporting documentation from your off-campus provider with your request for UAAs.

In order for Covid-19 related absences to be evaluated, you must have been seen by a medical professional and been told to medically isolate or quarantine.  Requests for absences that do not have supporting medical documentation (either from an off-campus provider or from Campus Health) will be denied.  The UAAO does not approve of absences without supporting documentation or verification through Campus Health.  If you do not qualify for a Covid-19 related UAA (i.e. you did not get evaluated by a medical professional and/or were not told to quarantine or isolate) you will need to discuss your absence from class directly with your instructor.

Routine testing does not qualify for a University Approved Absence.  If you miss class due to testing, you will need to work directly with your faculty members on your absence.

Do I need a University Approved Absence from Campus Health, or from the Dean of Students?

No.  All University Approved Absences come from the University Approved Absence Office. The UAAO authorizes approved absences due to significant health conditions and/or personal/family emergency that require the student to be absent for a period of time.

What if I have a concussion?

If you are absent or plan to be absent due to a concussion, please make sure to visit Campus Health to be evaluated.  Most times, concussions require a different level of care.  There is a process in place between the Dean of Students and Campus Health that requires specific documentation from Campus Health due to the inconsistent and ongoing nature of a concussion.  Correspondence to professors about student concussions will come from the Dean of Students and not the UAAO.

How long does it take to process a UAA Request?

The University Approved Absence Office reviews requests as promptly as possible.  While it usually does not take more than 3 business days to review requests, please allow up to 10 business days for review of requests and consultation with other departments as appropriate.  So long as students get their absence request submitted to the UAAO in a timely fashion (within 5 business days after the last date of absence and have documentation delivered within 10 days if not attached to request), if a request is approved, faculty will be required to work with the student as noted under the Class Attendance Policy.

What are examples of reasonable alternatives?

As described in the policy, students who have a University Approved Absence will be provided reasonable alternatives, including the opportunity to obtain missed class notes and materials, to submit late assignments, and to make-up quizzes and tests or an equivalent learning assessment. This provision is not up for discussion with the UAAO or other offices named within the policy. Instructors may share questions or concerns with their department chair.  Per the policy, students may also contact department chairs to appeal if they believe they were not provided a reasonable alternative.

What do I do if my professor is not accommodating me and I was granted a University Approved Absence?

Given the swift and cumulative nature of a semester, an instructor should contact a student with a preliminary alternative plan within three business days of receiving notification of a University Approved Absence, or sooner if the absence takes place during a summer term.  The student must respond to the instructor within two business days of receiving the alternative plan and discuss details with the instructor. After receiving the final alternative plan from the instructor, if a student feels that a reasonable alternative was not provided, they may submit an appeal within three business days to the instructor’s Chair or the Chair’s designee.

At any time, a student may file a report alleging that the University has failed to provide reasonable accommodations for the student’s religious beliefs, disability, or pregnancy or related medical condition pursuant to the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct (“PPDHRM”). The student may file a report under the PPDHRM following an unsatisfactory appeal determination by the instructor’s Chair or the Chair’s designee. Alternatively, the student may bypass the University Approved Absence Office appeals process altogether and proceed directly to filing a report under the PPDHRM. If a student first files a report under the PPDHRM, the University Approved Absence Office’s appeals process will be stayed until a determination has been made under the PPDHRM.

What do I do if my University Approved Absence request is denied?

If a student’s request is denied because it does not meet the Class Attendance Policy criteria, that student will need to work directly with their faculty members on their absence.  Faculty have the authority to grant academic adjustments to students who do not meet the criteria for a UAA.  Due to the strict criteria outlined in the policy, there is no appeal process for UAAs.