A request for accommodation of illness-related absences
The following message was shared with faculty by Faculty Senate Chair Robin Muhammad and Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali.
We want to update you on an important issue for our campus community and to ask for your help. We are in the midst of what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling an active flu season. Each of us can do our part to help control the spread of this particularly virulent influenza and to support our colleagues and students who are affected.
In addition to the flu, the CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new virus, the coronavirus, which was first identified in China, but is quickly being identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. These widespread health concerns make it a good time to think about the ways that course policies can help the Ohio University community stay healthier and reduce disruptions from illness.
The Athens Campus Care clinic in Hudson Heath Center will provide documentation for students as appropriate. A blue slip from Campus Care documents that the student was seen, while a white slip both indicates that the student was seen and is potentially contagious and includes a recommendation for when the student should return to class or work. Both of these excuses are embossed with our Ohio University Campus Care seal so they are not able to be altered or duplicated. The medical staff at Campus Care will take into consideration the student’s medical condition, treatment, and risk of spreading viral or bacterial infection. Accepting this recommendation as an excused absence from class will help protect you and other students. Due to privacy rules within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, blue slips will not routinely provide a diagnosis.
When possible, we ask that you accommodate absences for illness. As noted in the Faculty Handbook (Academic Activities. IV.B.3.), “within their established attendance policies, instructors are expected to accommodate students returning to class after a legitimate absence,” which includes illness. When students with communicable diseases feel they must attend class or work despite their illness, this can increase risk to their classmates, peers, faculty, staff, and especially those with underlying medical conditions.
We also ask you to be as clear as possible about your policy on medical absences, particularly under which circumstances a student needs to present documentation that she or he was seen by a medical provider. Please do not call Campus Care for verification of student illness or for a diagnosis. Medical privacy rules in HIPAA prohibit the staff from discussing a patient without prior written consent. If you have questions about a document presented by a student, please contact Campus Care at 740.592.7100 to verify information contained on the form.
Please enjoy a safe and healthy spring semester!
Robin D. Muhammad
Chair, Faculty Senate
Executive Vice President and Provost, Ohio University