Guidance on Student Absences from Student Affairs

To protect the HIPAA rights of our students, faculty will never see an official absence notification from Student Affairs indicating a student is absent due to COVID. Rather, students and faculty should expect a communication to be sent on behalf of students to their professors notifying them that the student will be absent from classes and the dates of this absence. This is the same practice for all types of student absences regardless of the reason, and this is only a notification to faculty to let them know that Student Affairs has verified the student is to be out of class. Examples of absences we would provide notification for are medical reasons, doctor visits, death of a close relative or loved one, educational travel, or personal injury. Notifications will not take place for personal/vacation travel, oversleeping, etc. 

For the student, we advise that you should also email your professors to inquire about course work, staying on track, and making up missed assignments/exams. Given that much of the course material and lectures are available online at this time, students should progress in their coursework unless they are physically unable to do so or the nature of their absence does not permit them do so. Students are also advised this is not an excused absence from class; rather it is the professor’s right to determine the impact of the absence following the absence guidance offered in the syllabus. If students frequently miss class without good reason then later have a reason for absence notification to take place, their prior lack of participation in the course may negatively impact the available excused absences a professor may offer.  Lastly, students are not required to let their professors know why they are absent so long as an absentee notification has been sent on their behalf from Student Affairs. If your absence is COVID-related, be sure you have completed the Self Report Form in the MyVSU portal and talked with Student Health Services. Student Health is providing Student Affairs with all student absence information related to COVID.

For the faculty, we advise that you work with the student to maintain academic progress in the course and offer students opportunities to make-up missed work. You will be provided the dates of the absence, and in some cases, the start date may be prior to the date of notice to ensure we provide notification for all possible days of absence. If a student is expected to be out for a period of time but then physically returns to class before the absence end date, you may ask them confirm their return with Student Affairs first at your discretion. We will be happy to provide a notice that the student will be physically returning to class at the student’s request. DO NOT ask the student to provide you with the outcome of any medical evaluation or testing! If a student volunteers their reason for absence is related to COVID, please ask the student to be sure they have completed the Self Reporting Form found in MyVSU or have been in contact with Student Health Services.  

Additional Helpful Information 

Self Isolation - refers to the time a COVID+ is instructed to isolate away from others. This person has been infected and has potential to spread the virus. 

Quarantine – refers to the time a person who has potentially been in close contact with another person having COVID. This person is asked to quarantine away from others out of precaution but is not considered infected and to be able to spread the virus to others.  

Classroom Risk: Out of caution, many more individuals will be instructed to Quarantine than those required to Self Isolate and the Absence Notification will not disclose this detail. This also does not mean that every student that is absent was COVID+ nor does it mean they were symptomatic in a class and therefore risk to members of the class is increased. Student Health Services is providing initial close contact notification within our campus community and those impacted by a person who has been diagnosed with COVID and those necessary individuals will be immediately notified and instructed to Quarantine.