University Secretariat and Legal Counsel

University Secretariat and Legal Counsel

site header

Academic Consideration for Students in Extenuating Circumstances Procedure

Contact Officer: Jennifer Dods, Executive Director, Student Wellness Services


Table of Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Level 1: Brief Absence
  3. Level 2: Short Term Extenuating Circumstances
  4. Level 3: Long-term Extenuating Circumstances

Purpose

This procedure accompanies the university’s Academic Consideration for Students in Extenuating Circumstances Policy (2017) and outlines the steps to be taken to promote consistent, fair and reasonable responses to requests for academic consideration by students for a range of extenuating circumstances.

Students seeking academic accommodations related to a chronic or ongoing physical or mental health condition or an existing disability should refer to the existing policy on Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Students with long term health conditions or disability should seek academic accommodation from Queen’s Student Accessibility Services in Student Wellness Services.

Privacy and confidentiality will be protected and maintained throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. faculty offices, instructors, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations. Confidentiality cannot be maintained where there is reason to believe that an individual may be at risk of harming themselves or others.

In cases where a student is unable to take action, a delegate may act on behalf of the student, with the student’s written consent.

Faculties/Schools have identified individuals in their offices whom students can contact to facilitate a request for academic consideration. This individual is usually located in the student services office or program office. Students should contact their Faculty/School Office for more information.

Appeals related to academic considerations should follow current Faculty / School appeal process. The Office of the University Ombudsmen is also a resource for independent, impartial and confidential advice.

Students are expected to request academic considerations as soon as extenuating circumstances are apparent. Requests for retroactive consideration should be directed to the Faculty/School Office and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For extenuating circumstances relating to sexual violence or harassment and discrimination, students can contact the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Co-ordinator, the Human Rights Office, or Student Wellness Services, for support and for the facilitation of appropriate arrangements. The Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s University Students supersedes these procedures.

Level 1: Brief Absence

Students who require an unplanned brief absence from academic obligations for a period of up to 48 hours

This applies to extenuating circumstances where a sudden event or acute illness leads to physical or mental impairment of sufficient severity that the student is unable to meet any required academic obligations (e.g. participation marks, placement hours, assignment deadlines, exams) for an anticipated time period of up to 48 hours.

Exclusions:

  1. Students who have personal or family events (e.g. vacations, weddings), transportation or technological difficulties, or other competing commitments should consult directly with their instructors or Faculty/ School Office.
  2. Students who do not feel able to meet academic requirements due to experiencing high levels of academic stress, exam related anxiety, or an exacerbation of an existing health condition should seek out supports and services from Student Wellness Services or other campus or personal/professional supports.

Instructors and Faculty/School Offices have discretion to extend academic considerations for an unplanned Brief Absence beyond 48 hours if they deem it appropriate in situations where recovery requires additional days. In cases where a student who submitted a Self-Declaration of Brief Absence is not able to return to full academic functioning within a few days, the student should submit a Request for Academic Consideration for Extenuating Circumstances.

Students (or delegate) who require academic considerations for a Brief Absence

The university does not require verification documentation from a health care professional (on-campus or hospital or community-based) in these circumstances.

  1. Inform your Faculty / School Office or your instructors or supervisor(s) (see your Faculty / School protocol) at the earliest possible time to advise them you need to take a brief absence. If you are designating a delegate to act on your behalf, provide consent identifying the delegate.
  2. Complete and submit the Self-Declaration of Brief Absence form to your instructor or supervisor or Faculty/School Office as soon as the need is apparent and no later than a day after the end of your brief absence.
  3. As soon as you have sufficiently recovered communicate with your instructor or supervisor regarding missed academic obligations. Should your need for a brief absence extend for a day or two beyond 48 hours; connect with your instructor or supervisor to discuss a brief extension.
  4. Consult with your Faculty/School Office as needed;
  5. Complete and/or submit academic work per the consideration granted.
  6. Students should be aware that Faculty / School Offices will maintain documentation of submitted Self-Declaration of Brief Absence forms.

In cases of repeated requests for academic consideration using the Self-Declaration of Brief Absence form, the Faculty / School Office may contact the student to ensure they have adequate support for their health and wellness needs. In addition, instructors and supervisors in consultation with their Faculty/School Office will assess the feasibility of any repeated requests on a case by case basis.

If a student who submits a Self-Declaration of Brief Absence during the final exam period is registered with Queen’s Student Accessibility Services, it is the responsibility of the student (or delegate) to advise the Exam Office immediately by email that they will not be writing a planned accommodated exam.

Faculty Members: Instructors or Supervisors or Faculty / School Offices who receive a Self-Declaration for Brief Absence

When contacted by the Faculty/School Office or by a student (or delegate) regarding a Brief Absence:

  1. Recognize the university’s ‘good-faith’ approach.
  2. Refer the student to support services on campus, as appropriate.
  3. Instruct TA or others who may receive documentation or emails from students to bring requests to directly to Instructors. Ensure they are aware of policy and prepared to respond to students who contact them.
  4. Accept the Self-Declaration of Brief Absence form as documentation and do not ask for any further documentation to verify the circumstances or details regarding their health or circumstance.
  5. Assess missed academic obligations and provide reasonable academic considerations, while maintaining essential academic requirements and standards.
  6. Consider student request for an additional day or two to recover in good faith, connect with student regarding any additional or modified considerations and next steps. If extension of Brief Absence is not possible, direct student to complete the Request for Academic Considerations for Extenuating Circumstances form.
  7. If the situation is more complex or if an instructor or supervisor receives repeated requests for academic consideration, refer the student to the Faculty/School Office.
  8. Keep a written record of interactions with the student, the outcome, and action taken to support the student, including only personal details of the student’s extenuating circumstances that are essential to the context. Paper and electronic records should be securely stored in a location to be determined by Faculty/School protocol and confidentially destroyed per the university’s records schedule. Documentation collected as part of this policy will not be part of a student’s permanent academic record.
  9. Ensure the Faculty/ School Office has a record of submitted forms as per internal protocol.
  10. Consult with the Faculty / School Office as necessary;
  11. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. faculty offices, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.

Level 2: Short Term Extenuating Circumstances

Students who require academic consideration for a short-term period of time defined as more than 48 hours (with discretion for an additional one or two days) but less than 3 months. This applies to extenuating circumstances where the student anticipates a full recovery and return to previous levels of academic functioning within the next 3 months.

This applies to extenuating circumstances that lead to a reduced ability to meet academic requirements due to physical or mental impairment. This includes an extended unanticipated illness (e.g. mononucleosis, pneumonia), a serious injury (e.g. concussion, broken bones), a required treatment (surgical procedure, significant side effects from new medication), serious injury or illness to a significant other, bereavement (e.g. loss of family member), traumatic event, or other significant personal crisis.

In some situations, this policy may apply temporarily to an exacerbation of an existing condition that had not previously required accommodation (e.g. Crohn’s disease, anxiety) or to the new onset of a physical or mental illness (e.g. diabetes, depression). In other cases, a student may not recover as anticipated (e.g. complicated grief, post-concussion syndrome, medical complications, post-traumatic stress). As soon as it is determined that the health condition being experienced is likely to require complex accommodations or accommodations for more than a short period of time, the student should be referred to Student Wellness Services and seek academic accommodations for students with temporary or permanent disabilities or diagnosed health conditions.

Students who are unable to meet academic obligations due to functional impairments and limitations related to a known underlying disability or diagnosed health condition should register with Queen’s Student Accessibility Services to receive ongoing academic accommodations tailored to their individual needs.

Students experiencing extenuating circumstances may be unable to meet academic requirements or may have a reduced capacity to complete required academic obligations. Students may be able to complete some academic requirements but not others. Academic considerations should be individualized to the student’s circumstances and in proportion to the student’s ability to complete academic requirements.

Depending on the ability of the student to engage in academic tasks and the nature of the program the student is in and related academic requirements, short term extenuating circumstances may require withdrawing from a course (or courses) or may require a medical leave of absence. This is particularly important to note for students in pre-professional programs with required hours of attendance in course or placement sites, or with set pre-requisites for academic progress, or external regulatory body requirements.

Students who require academic consideration for a short period of time (more than 48 hours, less than 3 months)

A student who is experiencing an extenuating circumstance should,

  1. Seek support and services from Counselling Services, Health Services, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, Human Rights Office, or other campus units or community-based services, as needed; on-campus units can help facilitate arrangements for academic consideration.
  2. Contact their instructor(s) or Faculty/School Office as soon as possible; or have a delegate contact on their behalf.
  3. Complete the Request for Academic Considerations for Extenuating Circumstances form and submit it to the Faculty/School Office.
  4. Provide verification documentation, if requested. This may include the Verification of Personal Health Condition form, a Verification of Confidential Extenuating Circumstances form, or other documentation (e.g. death certification, police report of an accident). Students are not required to disclose specific details of their personal circumstances to their instructors or supervisors, but the Faculty/School Office may require documentation that verifies the extenuating circumstance and the inability or reduced capacity to complete academic work. In cases where a Verification of Confidential Extenuating Circumstances form has been submitted, additional documentation or detail should not be requested from the student.
  5. Students should be aware that some information may be shared among university personnel on a need to know basis, while respecting student’s privacy and confidentiality to the degree possible.
  6. Communicate and update Faculty / School Office regarding recovery and academic progress as appropriate.
  7. Complete and/or submit the academic work per the consideration granted.

If it becomes apparent that a full recovery will not take place within 3 months and that ongoing academic support may be required, the student should contact Queen‘s Student Accessibility services to register and request academic accommodations.

If a student requires specific exam accommodations (e.g. additional time, private room, write every other day) as part of their academic considerations, the student should contact Student Wellness Services to request short term exam accommodations. Student Wellness Services will send any approved midterm exam accommodations to the Faculty / School Office and final exam accommodations for centrally scheduled exams to the Exams Office.

If a student who received academic considerations for extenuating circumstances is registered with Queen’s Student Accessibility Services, (QSAS) and will not be writing a final exam, it is the responsibility of the student (or delegate) to advise the Exam Office by email that they will not be writing a planned accommodated exam.

Faculty Members: Instructors or Supervisors or Faculty / School Offices who receive a Request for Academic Consideration for Extenuating Circumstances

When contacted by the Faculty/School Office or by a student regarding a Request for Academic Consideration for Extenuating Circumstances

  1. Recognize the university’s ‘good-faith’ approach. Refer student to supports and services as appropriate.
  2. Instruct TAs or others who may receive documentation or emails from students to bring requests to directly to Instructors. Ensure they are aware of policy and prepared to respond to students who contact them.
  3. Assess request and academic obligations and provide reasonable academic considerations, while maintaining essential academic requirements and standards. Academic considerations should be individualized to the student’s ability to engage in academic tasks, and to the program requirements.
  4. Ensure collaboration between Instructors / Supervisors and Faculty/School Office to determine response to student.
  5. Keep a written record of interactions with the student, the outcome, and action taken to support the student, including only personal details of the student’s extenuating circumstances that are essential to the context. Paper and electronic records should be securely stored in a location to be determined by Faculty/School protocol and confidentially destroyed per the university’s records schedule. Documentation collected as part of this policy will not be part of a student’s permanent academic record.
  6. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. faculty offices, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.
  7. Communicate with student and discuss recovery timeline and academic progress as appropriate. If it becomes apparent that the student will not be able to resume full academic functioning within 3 months and is likely to have ongoing needs to meet academic requirements, refer student to Queen’s Student Accessibility Services.
  8. If the student requires or requests specific final exam accommodations as part of the academic consideration (e.g. additional time, quieter room, specific chair) direct the student to Student Wellness Services for short term exam accommodation, as appropriate.

Level 3: Long-term Extenuating Circumstances

Students who do not anticipate a full recovery or return to academic functioning within 3 months should speak with their Faculty / School Offices immediately to discuss academic implications and possible academic considerations (e.g. reduced course load, medical leave of absence).

Students should take reasonable measures to promote academic success and their personal well-being by accessing available supports, including Queen’s Student Accessibility Services, Health and/or Counselling Services, and other campus supports or personal /professional supports as appropriate.

Students who anticipate a return to academic functioning but with ongoing need for academic accommodation should contact Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) to register for ongoing academic accommodations. Students will need to provide documentation to QSAS related to their functional impairments.

Faculty /School Offices

Faculties/Schools should have a Faculty/School-specific response protocol for supporting students in extenuating circumstances. This protocol should be posted to the Faculty/School’s website and distributed to departments, faculty members, supervisors, course directors and instructors of record, TFs, TAs, staff and students.

If a student contacts the Faculty/School Office directly in extenuating circumstances:

  1. Recognize the university’s ‘good-faith’ approach and refer student to supports and services as appropriate.
  2. Respond as per the Faculty/School-specific protocol. This may include receiving documentation (e.g. Self-declaration forms, requests for academic consideration forms, verification forms or other documentation), verifying the circumstances when necessary, emailing all instructors involved, consulting with instructors and department program advisors, and providing academic advising to the student.
  3. Determine additional documentation required (other than in cases of Verification of Confidential Extenuating Circumstances), on a case by case basis, and communicate this to the student along with any other follow-up needed from the student.
  4. Keep a written record of interactions with the student, the outcome, and action taken to support the student, including only personal details of the student’s extenuating circumstances that are essential to the context. Paper and electronic records should be securely stored in a location to be determined by Faculty/School protocol and confidentially destroyed per the university’s records schedule. Documentation collected as part of this policy will not be part of a student’s permanent academic record.
  5. Support the co-ordination of academic considerations across courses and instructors.
  6. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. instructors or supervisors, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.

If the Faculty/School Office becomes aware of a student in extenuating circumstances (from a faculty member, from a student service etc.):

  1. Proactively reach out to the student to offer support per Faculty-specific protocol.
  2. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. instructors or supervisors, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.
  3. Keep a written record of interactions with the student, the outcome, and action taken to support the student, including only personal details of the student’s extenuating circumstances that are essential to the context. Paper and electronic records should be securely stored in a location to be determined by Faculty/School protocol and confidentially destroyed per the university’s records schedule. Documentation collected as part of this policy will not be part of a student’s permanent academic record.
  4. Support the co-ordination of academic considerations across courses and instructors.

Include in policies, approach to supporting students who are attending University sanctioned athletic events or who are distinguished invited guests at a significant provincial, national or international event.

School of Graduate Studies (SGS)

In the event that an instructor or supervisor does not assent to the request for academic consideration in extenuating circumstances made by a graduate student, academic consideration may nonetheless be granted, unless the instructor or supervisor provides justifiable reasons for withholding his or her assent. The decision to grant or deny the academic consideration shall be made by the Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Human Rights Office

  1. Provide appropriate documentation to students and to Faculty/School Offices, as needed and appropriate, to facilitate decision-making regarding the granting of academic consideration by educators or Faculty/School Offices for students with extenuating circumstances related to human rights.
  2. Assist or act as delegate with completion and submission of forms as requested, and with liaising with instructors and Faculty/ School Offices.
  3. Communicate, as needed and as appropriate, with instructors and Faculty/School Offices about a student’s extenuating circumstances and the recommendation for academic consideration.
  4. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. instructors or supervisors, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.

Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator

  1. Provide appropriate documentation to students and to Faculty/School Offices, as needed and appropriate, to facilitate decision-making regarding the granting of academic consideration by educators or Faculty/School Offices for students with extenuating circumstances related to sexual violence.
  2. Assist or act as delegate with completion and submission of forms as requested, and with liaising with instructors and Faculty/ School Offices.
  3. Communicate, as needed and as appropriate, with instructors and Faculty/School Offices about a student’s extenuating circumstances and the recommendation for academic consideration.
  4. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. instructors or supervisors, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.

Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs

If contacted by a student or parent:

  1. Contact the appropriate Faculty/School Office, and any support unit, as appropriate, to facilitate the academic consideration process.
  2. Protect privacy and confidentiality throughout this process to the extent possible. Information may be shared among university personal (e.g. instructors or supervisors, exams office) on a need to know basis for the purpose of arranging academic considerations.
  3. Keep a written record of interactions with the student, the outcome, and action taken to support the student, including only personal details of the student’s extenuating circumstances that are essential to the context. Paper and electronic records should be securely stored in a location to be determined by Faculty/School protocol and confidentially destroyed per the university’s records schedule. Documentation collected as part of this policy will not be part of a student’s permanent academic record.

Date Approved: April 18, 2017
Approval Authority: Senate
Date of Commencement: 2017 April 18
Amendment Dates: N/A
Date for Next Review: 2022 April 18
Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines: Academic Consideration for Students in Extenuating Circumstances Policy (2017)