Attendance Adjustment/Deadline Extensions

Attendance Adjustment/Deadline Extensions

This page provides supplemental instructions about the Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extensions Accommodations. While these are two separate accommodations, they often occur together, and they have many shared characteristics. Consequently, they are often referred to together in this document.


Before implementing either of the accommodations in a course, we ask that the professor first confirm that the accommodation is listed on the student's Accommodation Letter. If it is not listed there, please contact ARC so that we can follow up with the student.


Purpose of the Accommodations

Attendance Adjustment and/or Deadline Extensions are given when the student has a disability that is episodic and unpredictable in nature. The disability may impact the student’s functioning more severely and unpredictably. The student has no way to know in advance when this will occur. Examples of this type of disability include, but are not limited to, migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Panic Disorder, cancer, Celiac Disease, Major Depressive Disorder, and epilepsy.


If the student’s disability symptoms suddenly worsen and become severe, this can cause the student to miss class or delay completion of assignments. Therefore, the Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extensions accommodations are intended to create reasonable adjustments to classroom attendance and assignment deadline policies stated in the course syllabus, allowing for some additional leniency for the student. The intent of the accommodations is to give the student an opportunity to fully demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of the subject matter by making small policy adjustments to minimize the impact of disability- related symptoms on the student’s grade.


Please note that these accommodations are not intended to serve as an attendance waiver or unspecified deadline extension for all assignments. As stated in policy D170 in the Faculty Handbook, attendance during scheduled class times is a necessary part of the learning process. Likewise, it is critical for a student’s success in any class that they be able to turn in the majority of their assignments on-time.


Doctor’s Note

Because the need for these accommodations has been documented through ARC, no additional medical documentation is needed. If a syllabus requires medical documentation for an excused absence, make-up exam, etc., the accommodation letter serves as sufficient documentation. The student is expected to maintain prompt and regular communication with professors as flare-ups occur throughout the semester.


Online Classes

The Attendance Adjustment accommodation may not be as relevant for an online class. However, we want faculty to know of this accommodation, in the event that the student becomes ill due to their disability and is unable to take a quiz or exam on a given day. If this occurs, the student should contact their professor to inform them of the disability flare-up and to arrange to make up the missed quiz or test.


Determining How The Accommodations Will Apply In A Given Class

The role of attendance, due dates and participation varies from course to course, so it is important for the professor and student/ARC to discuss early in the semester how Attendance Adjustment and/or Deadline Extensions will be handled in the course. We hope that this page will provide a solid foundation for the discussion. Remember that ARC Accommodations Specialists are available to facilitate the conversation, answer questions, and brainstorm reasonable adjustments.


Factors To Consider

With these accommodations, the student is permitted a reasonable amount of flexibility. Reasonable flexibility can be determined by analyzing the course design. The accommodations should not compromise the essential design and learning outcomes of the course.


Considering some or all the following questions can help a professor determine the degree of leniency that would be appropriate for a given class:

  • What does the syllabus say about attendance and missed deadlines?
  • Is there any flexibility regarding attendance or assignments already built into the course?
  • How has the professor made exceptions to these policies in the past?
  • Are attendance and/or participation factored in as part of the course grade? If so, how? Is this a course, department or college policy?
  • Is the format of instruction primarily lecture or interactive?
  • Does in-class instruction and learning rely on specific elements from the previous session or assignment?
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process (e.g. discussion, presentations, role-plays)?
  • What is the impact on the educational experience of other students in the class if a student is absent or misses a deadline?


General Guidelines

Attendance Adjustment: Generally speaking, a reasonable accommodation for attendance adjustment is the allowance of 50-100% additional absences to what is stated in the syllabus. The amount of attendance flexibility that would be considered reasonable for a given course will depend on the role that attendance and participation play in the learning process. For example, if class sessions involve little student interaction, are mostly lecture- based, and the lectures cover content available in the text or from instructor/peer notes, then more flexibility with excused absences/participation points is reasonable. On the other hand, if class sessions involve more student interaction, include lectures that cover material not duplicated anywhere else, or are primarily based on experiential learning such as discussions, groupwork, or role-plays, then less flexibility with excused absences/participation points is reasonable.


Deadline Extensions: Generally speaking, an extension of 24-48 hours for a daily/weekly assignment, or up to a week extension for larger assignments, is appropriate. If modifying exam dates and deadlines would not substantially impact the flow or design of the course, then more flexibility with exam dates and deadlines is reasonable.

  • For example, it may be reasonable to allow a research paper to be turned in a few days late if it would not impact the overall progression of the course.
  • On the other hand, it may be unreasonable to modify an assignment due date that is based on an inflexible factor, such as a journal’s publication deadline.


How Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extensions Apply to Course Elements

The Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extensions Accommodations apply to all elements of a class, unless the university can clearly demonstrate that providing an accommodation in a particular situation would fundamentally alter the course or program (see Policy 2310 Reasonable Accommodation for Students with Disabilities). Because there is sometimes confusion about whether the accommodations apply to certain course requirements, ARC has highlighted some of those areas below to provide clarification.


In-Class Participation Points: If a student misses a class session due to disability and informs the professor of this, the professor is responsible for offering the student either a way to make up the participation points that they missed, or if that is not possible, offering another solution to offset any negative impact the missed points would have on the student’s grade.


Make-up quizzes/exams: Make-up quizzes/exams of equivalent difficulty must be offered to students who experience medical flare-ups. If you have concerns about academic integrity, fairness to other students, or prep-work required, ARC staff are happy to consult with you on how to best set up the accommodation while addressing these issues.


Assignments that remain open/available longer: This applies to various assignments such as papers, projects, and weekly or biweekly homework. ARC understands that these assignments remain open for a longer period of time, and we strongly encourage students to start and complete them as early as possible. Students with unpredictable disabilities often use this compensatory strategy as a way to try to minimize the impact on their academic performance. Nonetheless, when a student has an unpredictable disability, the circumstance can arise where the disability symptoms literally prevent the student from completing an assignment on-time, in spite of all their efforts. In such a case, it is reasonable for the student to request and be given a short extension to turn in the assignment without penalizing their grade. Generally speaking, an extension of 24-48 hours for a weekly/biweekly assignment, or up to a week extension for larger assignments such as papers or projects, is appropriate.


Discussion Posts and Replies: It is usually reasonable and appropriate to give the student a brief extension for an initial discussion post or for posting replies. In some situations, the length of extension that can be given will be impacted by other factors, such as the direct effect it would have on another student (for instance, if the ARC student is giving feedback to a peer who will then be revising their work for final submission shortly thereafter).


Real-World Examples: For real-world examples of Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extension Agreements from previous semesters, as well as examples of when a requested extension would not be reasonable and appropriate, please view our 

Attendance/ Deadline Modification Examples.


Instructions for Professors About Setting Up the Course-Specific Agreement for Attendance Adjustment and/or Deadline Extensions

It is very important that either the student or ARC contact faculty early in the semester to discuss and agree on how these accommodations will apply to a specific class. The accommodations should be based on the student's individual need, while also considering the impact on other course requirements as noted above.


If the student has elected to have ARC negotiate the terms of the agreement on their behalf, then an ARC Accommodations Specialist will contact the professor directly to ascertain what would be reasonable terms for the agreement. Otherwise, we recommend following these steps:


  1. Read through the guidance on this page to best understand how to determine the level of flexibility that would be reasonable for this student in your course. Please keep in mind that an agreement made for the lecture component of a course does not necessarily automatically apply to an associated lab, recitation, etc. (or vice versa). If the course involves multiple components, the student should work with you and any other instructors or course coordinators to establish separate criteria for each (unless you explicitly note otherwise).


  1. Within a week from when you received the accommodation letter, the student should contact you to discuss the accommodations. If you do not hear from the student, we encourage you to contact them directly, so the particulars of the accommodations can be worked out as soon as possible.


  1. With the student, discuss potential flexibility for the course’s relevant policies to find a balance of the student’s needs and the core requirements. NOTE: If you and the student are unable to easily agree on a balance, or if either or you feel that the conversation has become more of a debate or protracted negotiation, then please contact ARC for consultation.


  1. Once an agreement is reached, put the agreement in writing. This is most easily done by sending an email to the student. If you like, you can download and use one of our template agreement forms:


Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extensions Agreement Template

Attendance Adjustment Agreement Template

Deadline Extensions Agreement Template


However, use of these forms is not required.


  1. In the event that the student is unable to meet the terms of the agreement, and if no reasonable revisions to the agreement can be made, the student should then be held to the relevant course syllabus policies regarding excessive absences and missed work.



Student Responsibilities

Accommodations are always student-initiated. Therefore, students are responsible for informing their professors throughout the semester when they need to use the Attendance Adjustment/Deadline Extensions accommodations. When discussing the accommodations with students, we explain to them that it is critically important that they maintain clear, prompt, and consistent communication with their professors whenever they need to use these particular accommodations.


When a disability-related absence occurs, the student is responsible for contacting the professor to achieve two purposes: (1) to let the professor know that they were absent due to their disability (which they may also refer to as a health condition or medical condition); and (2) to ask if they missed any assignment due to being absent, and if so, to discuss arrangements to makeup the assignment.


If the student will need a brief extension on an assignment due to disability, the student is responsible for informing the professor of this need before the deadline whenever possible, or else as quickly as possible after the deadline. The understanding is that the student will meet all deadlines given for the class, unless they request an extension for a specific assignment.


Sometimes a student’s situation can change significantly due to disability, causing them to exceed the number of absences or length of extensions agreed upon. In such a case, the student is expected to contact the professor, ARC, or both as soon as they are able to do so, to let them know of the change and to renegotiate the agreement to the extent possible.


Questions or Concerns

ARC encourages anyone who has additional questions or concerns about the Attendance Adjustment and Deadline Extensions Accommodations to contact us directly so that we can provide clarification and assistance. If you are not sure whom to contact at ARC, email us at