Guidance for Instructors

Accommodations requests

Per Chancellor Christ's CalMessage on Student Accommodations: "The purpose of academic accommodations is to ensure that all students have a fair chance at academic success. The campus has well-developed processes in place for students to request accommodations, and students are encouraged to use these processes. We urge you to honor requests made within this framework.

Properly managing requests for accommodations can often require instructors to devote additional time and attention to meeting student-specific needs. We appreciate your cooperation and value the benefit it confers on our students."

Absence Due to Illness

Instructors are asked to refrain from general requirements for written excuses from medical personnel for absence due to illness. Many healthy people experience a mild-to-moderate illness and recover without the need to seek medical attention. University Health Services does not have the capacity to evaluate such illnesses and provide documentation excusing student absences. However, UHS will continue to provide documentation when a student is being treated by Tang for an illness that necessitates a change in course load or an incomplete.

Should a student experience repeated absences due to illness, it may be appropriate for the faculty member to ask the student to seek medical advice. The Senate guidelines advise faculty to use flexibility and good judgment in determining whether to excuse missed work, extend deadlines, or substitute an alternative assignment. Only the Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI) can waive the final exam. However, a department chair can authorize an instructor to offer an alternative format for a final exam (e.g., paper, take-home exam) on a one-time basis as per COCI's Temporary Change guidelines.

Remote Exam Guidance

In general, your starting point should be to hold the exams in the same format in which most students are receiving instruction. This is not a requirement for faculty, but it is the assumption that lies behind the allocation of classrooms for Fall 2021. If your lecture is remote, no rooms have been reserved for you for midterms or for finals. This is true whether all, some, or none of the associated discussion/lab sections are in-person.

If your lecture is remote and you want to hold in-person midterm exams, you have two options. One is to hold the exam during the discussion/lab sections since those students already have a room to meet in. With multiple sections, though, this might require multiple exams to ensure academic integrity. The other option is to hold the exam at a common time, perhaps in the evening. In this case, you need to work with your department scheduler asap to try to reserve rooms for the exams. Space availability may be the binding constraint. Flexibility will be important, both for the usual student athlete/musician/etc. and DSP accommodations as well as for students who were unable to travel to Berkeley due to international travel and visa restrictions.

Communicating with students regarding reasonable accommodation requests

Students are often hesitant to request accommodations. You can help by assuring them that reasonable academic accommodations are their right and exist in order for them to have a fair chance at academic success. Encourage students to request academic accommodations through the campus offices that exist for this purpose, and are staffed by professionals.

You can make it easier for students by including a link to this website on your syllabus and by using some or all of the following talking points when you go over your syllabus in class.

  • "Seeking accommodations is your right and an act of strength, not weakness. Seeking helping is a smart and courageous thing to do - for yourself and for those who care about you."
  • "In providing the accommodations, I won't ask and don't need to know the details of what might be affecting you. That's why we have offices that you can go to who will request the accommodation on your behalf." 
  • "In the event I suspect you need additional support, I may express my reasons for concern and remind you of the resources available."
  • "I'm a Responsible Employee, so if you share with me that you or another person has experienced sexual harassment/violence, I need to share that information with OPHD, our campus Title IX office. Confidential resources are listed on this webpage."

Faculty and staff are in a unique position to demonstrate care and compassion for students in distress. The purpose of the Gold Folder is to help you recognize potential symptoms of distress and identify appropriate campus resources to refer students to.