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Strategies if Students are Unable to Attend in Person

Pedagogic recommendations and policy notes for when students are unable to attend in person in Autumn Quarter 2021.

If a student cannot attend a class session in person, you have a lot of flexibility in deciding how you might respond. We hope these recommendations and notes on current policies will help you decide what is best for you and your students. 

These guidelines are up to date as of September 13, 2021, but may change over time. Check Teach Anywhere's Course Guidance page for the latest information.

Stay updated on campus policies around attendance

The Course Guidance page of the Teach Anywhere site summarizes campus policies around COVID and attendance. Here are key policies regarding student absences:

  • Both short- and long-term absences due to COVID 19 should be treated like other short- and long-term absences.
  • Instructors are not required to record their lectures or make their class sessions available by Zoom. 
  • Instructors and TAs do not have discretion to move entire courses or sections fully online without prior approval from the relevant Dean.
  • Instructors may choose to teach temporarily in a hybrid mode (for Fall Quarter 2021 only) if more than 50% of course time remains in-person. 
    • Individual departments may have additional guidance regarding hybrid or HyFlex courses. We advise all instructors to speak with their department or unit leaders first. See "What is a Hybrid Course?" for more recommendations.

Adopt flexible course policies

These strategies can help make your course design flexible and adaptive so that when students are absent from in-person class sessions, they can more easily stay connected and continue learning.

  • Lead with compassion and understanding: Consider these strategies for promoting student flourishing such as prompting students to share their values, honoring all emotions, and taking care of your own well-being. 
  • Provide clear communication of course and campus policies: Clearly communicate to students the course expectations and policies early on. Refer to CTL’s syllabus template for suggested statements. Specific policies and procedures for students related to COVID for Fall 2021, can be found on the Student Affairs website.
  • Offer flexible attendance policies: Set attendance policies that are flexible when needed. For example, don’t grade attendance alone, consider participation grades for activities instead, or allow a certain number of “free” absences. 
  • Offer flexible due date policies: Similar to attendance policies consider flexible due date policies. For example, allow students to turn in assignments late without penalty as long as they give proper notice to graders or to drop the lowest grade among a group of similar assignments.

Empower students to learn independently

You can also empower students to be proactive about continuing their learning through disruptions. Consider these strategies for helping students be independent and resilient learners.

Provide supplemental resources

Consider preparing course materials and activities for absent students to access on Canvas. You might design your primary activities to be flexible enough to be used both in-person or online.

  • Pre-record short instructional videos: Instructional videos can range from informal video messages to supplemental lecture presentations. Consider these strategies for pre-recording instructional videos.
  • Curate supplemental resources: such as additional readings, online videos, and so on. Post them on your Canvas course site.
  • Prepare asynchronous activities: such as discussion forums, practice quizzes, or supplemental writing assignments, that absent students could still take advantage of.
  • Leverage technology to record class sessions: While recording your class sessions is not required, it may be appropriate for your situation. Contact LTS for a consultation. If you are in a large technology-enabled classroom, this can be easily achieved. Depending on your situation other solutions such as equipment loans may be suitable.

Enable absent students to participate in hybrid or HyFlex modes

Instructors should use discretion when considering hybrid or HyFlex course solutions (for example allowing students to attend in-person sessions via Zoom). Because these modalities can present some unique challenges, we strongly recommend you seek expert support and speak to your departmental chair or unit director. See the “What is a Hybrid Course?” page for more information.