Class attendance

Guidance to assist in the decision making process when accommodation requests are made from students about class attendance and absences.

Accommodations will fall into two categories: required and non-required.

The UW-Madison policy on class attendance (University Policy II-108) leaves the final decision to the instructor for non-required accommodations for students who miss scheduled class activities.

Required Accommodations

The academic standards are always the prerogative of each instructor however, accommodations are required in the following circumstances:

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Title IX accommodation: Sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment

Being a victim of any crime can frequently have a traumatic impact on a student and negatively impact their academic performance. Title IX provides specific protections for students who have experienced sexual assault,dating/domestic violence, stalking, or sexual harassment.

The Dean of Students Office will verify victimization without providing details for serious crimes.

Contact the Dean of Students Office for assistance

Title IX accommodation: Pregnancy or parenting students

Schools must excuse a student’s absences because of pregnancy or childbirth for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary.

The Dean of Students Office will provide assistance to pregnant or parenting students.

Support pregnant or parenting students

Disability-related accommodations

Disability-related accommodations

Students who have requested an disability-related accommodation from the McBurney Disability Resource Center should be granted accommodations as outlined in the McBurney Connect: Faculty Notification Letter.

McBurney Connect provides online access for students, instructors, and notetakers to apply for, request and manage student, disability-related accommodations.

After a student requests their accommodation, instructors will receive a Faculty Notification Letter, about classroom accommodations that are specific to each course. The Letter is located in the McBurney Connect Instructor Portal.

Students will still be instructed to meet with faculty to discuss their accommodations.

Access McBurney Connect Instructor Portal

Non-Required accommodations

These reasons may range from serious illness or family crisis to a travel convenience.

In general, students are encouraged to reach out to faculty or instructors directly to make accommodations in the classroom, as far in advance as possible. Decisions to grant an accommodation should reflect the individual situation of the student as well as the legitimate academic demands of the class, it’s intended learning outcomes, and needs of the instructor.

Consultation with colleagues, the Dean of Students Office, or the Academic Dean of School/College is recommended.

Unforseen or serious circumstances

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Victim of crime

Being a victim of a crime can frequently have a traumatic impact on a student and negatively affect their academic performance.

The Dean of Students Office will verify victimization without providing details for serious crimes. Accommodations in these cases are appropriate.

Mental health concerns

Students are frequently impacted by mental health issues. Most are able to find ways to work through difficult times, while others need an accommodation.

Requesting verification of treatment (not diagnosis or therapeutic plan) can assist you in making the appropriate decision.

Supporting the mental health of students

A significant death

Our students come from a variety of cultures and family configuration. In general, it is appropriate to grant an accommodation for a significant death in a student’s life. While it is also appropriate to ask for documentation, please note it may not be available in all circumstances.

If you’d like to discuss further, please contact the Dean of Students Office.

Illness, injury or hospitalization

It is appropriate to request that the student show documentation for illness/injury/hospitalization. Students who have been hospitalized for both physical and mental health reasons will frequently miss class even after release.

Consultation with the Dean of Students Office is encouraged as well as asking the student to follow up with the Dean of Students Office


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Family vacation

Academic calendars are well known prior to the start of the academic year. It is the instructor’s decision to allow this accommodation, or not.

Early travel for a break

Academic calendars are well known prior to the start of the academic year. It is the instructor’s decision to allow an accommodation, or not.

Accommodations for life events and cultural, religious and ethnic observances

How to handle accommodation requests for cultural, religious and ethnic observances, pregnancy, parenting or other life events.

Making accommodations for life events

Absences from class

If a student misses classes due to illness, injury, family emergency, or some other reason, it is the responsibility of the student to notify their instructors of this absence as soon as possible.

The Dean of Students Office will not normally send notice of absence to instructional staff unless the student is unable to do so themselves.

Students are welcome to discuss their situations with the Dean of Students Office Drop-In staff member. Understanding mid-term and final exam policies, and information about final exam locations will help inform decision making.

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Mid-term evening exam policy

Exceptions to this general policy may be authorized by the academic Vice-Chancellor.

Two evening examination periods have been established for daytime classes that require evening mid-term examinations.

  • The first 90 minute period is from 5:30-7:00 p.m. to accommodate examinations of 90 minutes. Examinations can begin any time before or during this period as long as they end no later than 7:00 p.m.
  • The second period begins at 7:15 p.m. and will accommodate longer exams.

Instructors of daytime courses who plan to give evening mid-term examinations must make a request to footnote that information on the course so students will be aware of potential conflicts with evening courses or other commitments. Whenever possible the times and/or dates of evening examinations should also be footnoted.

Instructors who schedule evening examinations should make every possible effort to accommodate students with unavoidable conflicts. It is the instructor’s responsibility to assure that all students with conflicts between daytime courses with evening exams and evening courses are treated fairly and without penalty.

If a scheduling conflict exists between the evening exam of a daytime course and a regularly scheduled evening course, then the evening course takes precedence over the exam.

Fall and Spring term final exam policy

The academic semester consists of an advising and a course registration period, a regularly scheduled instructional period, and an eight-day summary period.

  • The first day of the summary period is for individual study and review, and no classes or exams are to be scheduled then.
  • The last seven days are prescheduled to include one two-hour summary block for each course of two or more credits. This two-hour block shall be used for an examination or for other instructional activities as deemed appropriate by the instructor and as approved by the instructional unit offering the course.
  • Final examinations or other summary period activities cannot be scheduled during the two weeks preceding the summary period. Take-home final examinations are due at the scheduled two-hour block.

The summary period block schedule must be published and must be adhered to by all faculty in accordance with faculty legislation requirements. The Office of the Registrar is authorized to prepare the summary period block schedule without submitting it to the faculty for approval, except that any college or school may prepare its own summary block schedule.

The time of a two-hour block for a class and/or the due date for the take-home examination may be changed only with the prior approval of the dean. Where a student has more than two summary blocks scheduled within a period of 24 hours, the instructor may, within guidelines adopted by the college or school faculty, reschedule a final exam to avoid hardship. Rescheduled summary blocks shall be of the same general nature and quality as the activities of the regular two-hour summary block.

Special hours within the prescribed summary period shall be assigned by the Office of the Registrar, in consultation with the dean, for combined summary periods in multiple-section courses that have no common meeting hour.

Undergraduate seminar courses, independent study, and directed study courses are exempted from the above rules. Also, the rules apply only to courses numbered 699 or below.

Course grades must be completed by each instructor and submitted to the Office of the Registrar within six calendar days (144 hours) from the date and hour of the two-hour block scheduled during the summary period.

See: Faculty Legislation, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Academic Matters: II-105 Summary Period for Academic Semester 

Summer final exams

Summer mid-session exams are typically held during the scheduled class period. Final exams are held at the last class meeting unless otherwise announced by the instructor.

Final exams on the web

Fall and Spring locations for final exams given in General Assignment Classrooms will be available in Student Center and Faculty Center four weeks before the start of final exams. If your course is not listed, contact the instructor or department giving the exam to determine the location.

When you are concerned about a student

If you are concerned for the immediate safety of the student, please reach out to University Health Services or the UW-Police Department for assistance.

Less immediate concerns can be taken to the Dean of Students Office for consultation.

When you are concerned about a student