Modification to UArizona’s Class Absence Practices and Recommended Syllabus Language

Aug. 12, 2020


To:           Arizona Faculty, Instructors, and Graduate Teaching Assistants

From:     Liesl Folks, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Date:      August 12, 2020

Subject: Modification to UArizona’s Class Absence Practices and Recommended Syllabus Language

** This memorandum supersedes the memorandum sent on March 3, 2020

Recommended Language for Course Syllabi

The Teaching & Learning Reentry group and an advisory group of faculty members have finalized a set of recommendations for inclusion in your Fall 2020 syllabi. These are not policy requirements, but recommendations for communicating with students about the complexities of teaching and learning that will make this semester unique. The recommendations are organized by teaching modality, and can be found here.

Updated Guidance on Attendance Policies and Practices

On March 16, 2020 modifications to the University’s Class Absence Practices were enacted to align with advice from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on how to best limit the spread of infectious diseases, especially with the current concern over the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19. Leading into the Fall 2020 semester, I am writing to provide a further update to that guidance.  I request continued strong support from instructors for these modifications to our protocols and practices for student class absences.

This guidance is intended to augment the Attendance Policies and Practices provided by the Dean of Students Office.

In accord with CDC guidance, it is required that UArizona students, faculty and staff who are sick with COVID-19, or who have recently had a close contact with a person with COVID-19, must stay home or in their living quarters (e.g., dorm room).  

However, the requirement to stay home may impact a student’s class participation, which often has implications for their course grades. It is critical that students feel that they can miss one class, or a series of classes, without penalty in order to adhere to public health guidance to limit disease spread.   


  • Please actively encourage students to stay at home if they feel sick or have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Students who need to miss a class, or series of classes, due to illness or the need to quarantine/isolate are responsible for emailing their course instructor, with copy to the Dean of Students at, to let them know of the need, as soon as possible. There is no need for a medical excuse to be provided for absence of up to a week (see more below).
  • Students are responsible for completing any work that they might miss due to illness or the need to quarantine/isolate, including assignments, quizzes, tests and exams.
  • Students are responsible for communicating with their instructor(s) via the means of communication established by the instructor(s), e.g., via D2L, email, text message, etc.
  • Students who need to miss more than one week of classes in any one semester will be required to provide a doctor’s note of explanation to The Dean of Students Office will communicate the receipt of the note (with expected end date) out to the relevant faculty.

Students who adhere to these processes should not be penalized per the attendance policy for the course.  

I ask that instructors make every effort to work with and provide modifications for students who cannot come to class due to illness. It is recognized, however, that remote learning may not be possible in some in-person laboratory and performing arts courses. Suggestions for modifications include:

  • Provide students an opportunity to join a live lecture via Zoom and/or recording of lectures through Zoom and making these recorded lectures available on D2L (which is a closed platform). Please see the examples and resources provided by the Office of Instruction and Assessment.
  • Request that students who join via Zoom or who watch recorded lectures provide feedback through mandatory discussions, quizzes or essays on the material covered in order to receive credit for attendance and participation.
  • Make-up exams or tests might be administered through D2L.  

Note that the CDC recommendations apply equally to teaching assistants, who should also stay home if they are sick, or have recently had close contact with a person who is sick. Please do work directly with your TA(s) to develop a plan for how to manage in the event that they should have to stay home due to COVID-19. Please utilize the COVID-19 Workplace Positive Case Protocol For Supervisors in the case that your teaching assistant tests positive for COVID-19.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated on this and all of the other efforts that are being implemented campus-wide in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.