Open letter to faculty and staff regarding student absence verification notes
Frequently, the Schiffert Health Center provides letters for students who miss class due to illness.
However, in this widespread H1N1 outbreak, matters are complicated for two reasons. First, the health center is seeing a large number of students with flu or flu-like complaints, especially those with high risk or more severe symptoms, and the need to attend to extraordinary patient demand reduces time available for other tasks.
Secondly, the center cannot speak for the full student population. Many students who feel poorly, in keeping with national public health policy, take to their beds and seek treatment only if symptoms worsen> and some of these self-isolated students speak to a health center triage nurse only by telephone. Since there is no personal contact, it is impossible to write a verified "excuse."
The Dean of Students Office routinely provides absence verification notes for students missing class due to non-medical reasons and will continue to do so. In addition, the Dean of Students Office will continue to verify absence and serve as advocates for students who are hospitalized, go home temporarily due to illness, and/or face challenges due to personal injury. However, since Dean of Students staff members are not medically trained, the department cannot provide absence verification notes related to short-term illness such as the current flu outbreak.
Since, in this extraordinary pandemic, the Schiffert Health Center and the Dean of Students Office will not generally be able to issue medical letters or notes to verify absence, reliance on the honor system is the logical alternative.
However, the final decision as to whether an absence is legitimate remains the prerogative of the faculty member, subject to departmental and college guidelines.
Edward F. D. Spencer
Vice President for Student Affairs
Daniel A. Wubah
Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education