COVID-19 Updates and Guidance > Updates > Guidance for Faculty on Class Attendance

Guidance for Faculty on Class Attendance

Aug. 12, 2021

Dear Faculty,

There is much to look forward to as we head back to campus. At the same time, we know that the pandemic is not over, and that the new academic year will provide new challenges for us and our students. You and your students may still be dealing with consequences of the pandemic and will need your compassion and flexibility.

In particular, we are asking everyone in our community to stay home if they feel at all unwell and avoid infecting others. This request applies to students, faculty, and staff alike. To help you think through how to navigate this situation, especially in face-to-face classes, leaders from Faculty Council, Academic Affairs, and Student Affairs prepared the “Guidance for Faculty on Class Attendance during AY 2021-2022” provided in full below.

Please keep the suggestions below in mind as you prepare your syllabi for the fall. Enjoy the rest of the summer. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.


Salma Ghanem, Provost

Guidance for Faculty on Class Attendance during AY 2021-2022

As Fall quarter approaches, the pandemic is still with us and cases of the Delta variant are rising. As this situation plays out, you and your students may be dealing with illness and other personal challenges that continue to require flexibility on all our parts. Moreover, because the Delta variant is so easily transmitted, the University is asking anyone who feels at all ill to stay home and avoid infecting others. So, in face-to-face classes in particular, you can expect absences from students, and you may even need to stay home yourself.

We understand that faculty are looking for guidance on how to address what may be an increase in students’ absences from class, especially in face-to-face classes. Leaders from Faculty Council, Academic Affairs, and Student Affairs collaborated on the guidance offered below; it provides information on the services provided by the Dean of Students’ Office as well as suggestions for ways to work effectively with your students surrounding the issue of class attendance. Please note that DePaul has no general class attendance policy; any such policies are at the discretion of faculty and should be clearly stated in course syllabi.

While The Dean of Students Office (DOS), as a service to faculty and students, can assist with absence notification, including collecting documentation and notifying faculty of students’ absences, the University does not require faculty or students to use this service. We recommend that you work directly with your students as they might not be able to document mild illnesses for which they received no medical care.

How, then, should faculty proceed? Here are some suggestions:

  • Discuss with your department an appropriate range of acceptable absences in the current situation, given the pedagogy required in your discipline. We recommend a range of 10-20% of class periods missed, beyond which student may need to provide documentation to DOS.
  • Clearly articulate your attendance policy in your syllabus, along with instructions for how students should communicate with you if they are ill.
  • Be open to connecting with students 1:1 to discuss their absence or need for flexibility and what is / is not possible for your class. How you respond to a student matters and has a direct impact on their feelings about continuing their studies at DePaul.
  • Consider alternative assignments that students may complete if they cannot attend a given face-to-face class session. You, too, may need to miss class because of illness, so these alternatives can provide you with needed flexibility as well.
  • If you would like further consultation on students of concern from the Dean of Students, feel free to contact them at You might also find it helpful to review material from two recent Teaching and Learning conferences, which focused on mental health and well-being (2020) and the impact of the pandemic (2021).
  • If you are feeling mildly unwell but still well enough to teach, consider moving face-to-face class session(s) to Zoom and/or posting alternative materials or assignments on D2L. Have a plan in place for communicating information about any last-minute changes to your students.

Notwithstanding these suggestions and the stresses of these challenging times, students remain responsible for completing all required assignments and demonstrating that they have successfully addressed the learning outcomes for the course. At the same time, our current situation calls on us to provide some flexibility where we can. We hope this document helps to empower you to work compassionately with your students and offer flexibility where possible.