AY 21-22 Class Attendance

Date:             May 13, 2021

To:                 Iowa State University Faculty

From:            Jonathan Wickert, Senior Vice President and Provost

                      Andrea Wheeler, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture and President, Faculty Senate

Subject:        AY21-22 Class Attendance (SVPP COVID-19 Communication #27)



For the past year, instructors adapted their class attendance policies in response to student absences, illness, and quarantine/isolation.  As you know, flexibility was provided with respect to catch-up classes and assignments, extra time to complete assignments, extensions, and placing materials online for in-person courses.  In addition, many faculty “double-taught” courses (once in person for some students, and again online for those unable to attend). While much appreciated by students, and appropriate at the time, that practice is not a sustainable one for the coming year. 


Academic year 2021-22 attendance policy

In preparation for instruction during the upcoming academic year, the Provost’s Office, Faculty Senate Executive Board, and the Academic Continuity Working Group gathered and reviewed attendance policy ideas and feedback.

As a result of those discussions, we are writing to announce that the university will return to its standard policy for class attendance, as outlined in the Faculty Handbook:

10.4.1 Class Attendance  

In order to attend a given class, a student must be registered for that class. Exceptions to this policy are at the discretion of the instructor. 

Students are expected to attend class meetings as scheduled. Each instructor sets his or her policy on class attendance, and excuses for absence from class are handled between the student and the instructor.   

Additional information regarding discretionary accommodation for disability and religion are available at Procedures for Requesting Accommodations for Disability or Religion on the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Website

This policy provides instructors with discretion to set their policy on class attendance and non-university excused absences (Faculty Handbook, 10.4.3) handled between the student and instructor as best suited to the course’s subject matter and learning outcomes.

These general expectations are also being communicated to students by Associate Provost Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Dean of Students Sharron Evans, and will be reiterated as students return to campus for the fall.

Instructors should inform their students at the start of the semester about attendance expectations during the first in-person class meeting, in the class syllabus, and through Canvas announcements.  We also ask instructors to discuss approaches with department leadership and colleagues for consistency, and to have some flexibility and consider allowing a small number of unexcused absences without penalty.  


Accommodations for students falling within ADA guidelines will be addressed by the Student Accessibility Office.  Instructors should direct students to Student Accessibility Services to assess whether a particular situation falls within the accommodation process.  If so, faculty will be informed of next steps by that office according to established procedures. 

In the absence of such an accommodation, students are expected to follow the standard policy for attendance in their classes.  We ask faculty to be understanding to a reasonable extent, exercising empathy and compassion, and referring students to campus resources as necessary. 

We ask that department chairs share this communication with graduate student instructors and teaching assistants, as well as staff engaged in instruction.