COVID-19 Student Absence and Accommodation Protocol

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As Jan Term gets underway, we wanted to provide additional clarification around the protocols and procedures for COVID-19-related absences for students and student staff. We appreciate your work this fall to make our return to the classroom as smooth as possible, and we look forward to continuing that transition this spring.

  • If a student requires an absence from class or needs additional accommodations due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, faculty should expect an email from Julie Scaff, Director of Student Disability Services, detailing next steps. Please note this notification will be different from other notifications you may receive from Julie.

  • If a student reaches out directly to faculty requesting COVID-19-related accommodations but the faculty member has not received a communication from Julie Scaff, the faculty member should reach out to Julie to confirm that accommodations are necessary. 

  • To comply with confidentiality requirements, faculty will not be told if the student has COVID-19, only that the student requires additional accommodations.

  • In accordance with CDC guidance, an entire class is not automatically considered to be a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case unless there has been particularly close exposure like small group work or physical activity that includes direct contact. The specific definition of a close contact, as defined by the CDC and including the indoor classroom exception for settings in which masks are worn, can be found here. Faculty and students will be determined to be a close contact if they meet the CDC definition. For more information on CDC guidance regarding case investigation and contact tracing in institutions of higher education, click here.

  • In the event an extended absence is required, whether due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or the need to isolate or quarantine because of exposure, that absence will generally last between seven and 14 days. In more extreme cases, students could require a longer absence and we would encourage faculty to be as flexible as possible. Students will be notified to reach out to faculty but faculty are also encouraged to reach out to the student.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to Julie and Student Disability Services directly with specific questions around accommodations for COVID-19-related absences. For more information on Saint Mary’s COVID-19 policies and procedures, visit our COVID resource page here. And remember to stay masked indoors on campus!

In community,

Saint Mary’s College COVID-19 Coordinating Council and the Academic Contingency Planning Working Group