Front Desk

Absence from Class

(effective 1/20/09)

Medical Class Excuse Policy

Q:  I missed class because I was ill.  Can I get a medical excuse?  

A:  We are sorry to hear that you were ill and hope that you take advantage of Memorial Health Center when you have a problem.  However, we do not provide medical excuse forms.  If you are interested in finding a medical excuse form, you may download Absence From Class Form (PDF).

Each of your professors will have his or her own attendance policies.  If you are absent for illness, you should talk to your professor about how you might catch up with the material you missed.  If you are seriously ill and require hospitalization or an extended absence, talk to your professors and the Office of Student Life to decide how to deal with the interruption in your studies. 

A Medical Perspective on Illness

Information for Faculty (from the Office of the Provost and the Health Center)

We do not provide documentation for granting excused absences from class.  However, if students report an illness to you to explain an absence, we encourage you to take the explanation at face value and to make accommodations for the student to keep up with the class.  It is helpful for professors to elaborate their own policies with regard to illness in their attendance policy.

  1. If a student is frequently absent for illness or appears ill or distressed for an extended time, there may be some more serious underlying problem. In such a case, you should report your observations to the Office of the Dean of Students by utilizing the Caring Community Connections website. Today's students contend with a variety of personal and/or social problems that may contribute to or be exacerbated by other illnesses. For example, medical problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, panic disorders, attention deficit disorders and issues of abuse are in abundance on campus. Such conditions may be exacerbated by other illnesses such as simple upper respiratory infections or by stresses such as project deadlines. In an effort to salvage their dignity or protect their right to keep such conditions confidential, students are more likely to explain that "I had a bad cold" than to say, "I have an anxiety disorder and my bad cold made me have a panic attack."

Although college students are generally a healthy population, many students have chronic illnesses and their academic pursuits may be disrupted frequently. Faculty may become suspicious of these students' motives because the students may ask repeatedly for special arrangements. It can be helpful in such cases to encourage the student to be as open as possible in sharing with you how their condition has been affecting their studies. Together, you might be able to reach a mutual agreement about special arrangements. In exceptional cases (i.e. mental health issues or diseases requiring quarantine such as influenza), Health Center doctors may provide the student/patient with a written document which may help clarify the reason for absence. In the context of patient privacy, Health Center clinicians are always willing to discuss with faculty how a specific condition could influence a students' academic performance.  Students will need to first sign a legal consent document to release medical information.  This document is available at the Health Center.