COVID-19 Updates and Guidance > Updates > welcome-update-guidance

Welcome and updated guidance for faculty

​​September 7, 2022

Dear faculty,

Welcome to the 2022-2023 academic year! I hope you all had a rejuvenating summer. If you were able to join us on September 1 for Academic Convocation or on September 6 for Student Convocation, I hope you felt the optimism and sense of renewal that is in the air. We are delighted to welcome our new President, Rob Manuel, to our DePaul community. He has already had an array of conversations with many university stakeholders, starting even before his first official day in office and has shared his 125-Day Transition Approach. (If you weren't able to attend Convocation, you can see a recap here.)

This year marks DePaul's 125th anniversary, so all this positive energy comes at an important moment. It is a time to appreciate the years of dedication to our students, your scholarship and our mission that brought us to this moment. It is also time to look ahead to the future and plan for the next chapter of DePaul's history. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about plans for celebrating this milestone and taking steps to ensure the university's future by making DePaul a top choice institution.

In the meantime, while COVID-19 has not left us, the nation as a whole has improved tools for dealing with it; the Fall Campus Health Update aligns with CDC guidelines in adapting our mitigation practices. Some of you may have questions about how we are approaching the topic of student absences. Please see below for the revised Guidance for Faculty, a document that had input from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Faculty Council.

I wish you all the very best in the coming academic year. I look forward to our work together.


Salma Ghanem 

Guidance for Faculty on Student Absences during AY 2022-2023

As fall quarter approaches, COVID-19 remains with us, and both the state of Illinois and the CDC have updated their guidance to remove most restrictions while still encouraging people to take care of themselves and behave responsibly. At the same time, Monkeypox has emerged as another communicable disease that we need to watch out for. The August 18 Fall Campus Heath Update outlines DePaul's approach in light of these developments. We continue to require COVID-19 vaccinations and the initial boosters, and ask students, faculty and staff to stay home if they are sick. Everyone in our community may still be dealing with illness and other personal challenges that continue to require flexibility on all our parts.

We understand that faculty continue to look for guidance on how to address students' absences from class, especially in face-to-face classes. Leaders from Faculty Council, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs collaborated on the revised guidance offered below. It provides information on the services provided by the Dean of Students Office (DOS) 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.

The Dean of Students Office produced the “Extended Absence Notification" statement outlining their role in assisting with absence notification, including collecting documentation and notifying faculty of students' absences. Please note that 1) DOS will assist only when a student is absent for two or more days and 2) 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? The suggestions we shared during height of the pandemic remain relevant:

  • 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 to 20 percent 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 DOS, feel free to email 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.