Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 Academic Considerations Framework for Students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Please visit our Potential COVID-19 Exposure page for guidelines on what to do in the event of an exposure on campus.

Updated: November 22

This academic considerations [1] framework is applicable for the Fall 2021 and the Winter 2022 semester.

Advanced consideration for Instructors: Instructors may wish to design course content, instructional strategies, and assessments with a view to reducing the need for individual student accommodation. This is a good pedagogical practice and increases accessibility overall. Instructors can connect with Teaching and Learning Services to explore possible options (e.g., flexible grading schemes).

Key Principles:

  • Health and safety of the community remain a top priority for everyone in our community and as such, students are acting in good faith in requesting academic considerations.
  • Instructors and Faculties will strive for academic considerations that are compassionate, reasonable, and feasible, but will not compromise academic quality and standards.
  • Students are expected to be available for in-person teaching in the Fall term. An inability to come to Montreal and resulting requests for full courses to be offered remotely is not a general academic consideration to be entertained.
  • There is no expectation for instructors to prepare different versions of their courses (e.g., a remote version) as an academic consideration.
  • This framework is an individual-based approach to academic considerations necessary for short-term, incidental issues connected to COVID-19.

The following examples are situations that might require academic considerations:

  • Students who are sick with COVID-19.
  • Students who are required under public health directives to self-isolate because of potential exposure or positive test for COVID-19. Such students could be either in good health or symptomatic.
  • Students who are instructed by health care professionals to remain at home.
  • Students who are unavoidably temporarily delayed in starting their courses, or perhaps other isolation requirements.

Protocol for academic considerations:

Students in need of academic considerations will be required to self-declare their specific COVID-19-related request for academic considerations through a single online form[2]. Instructors, TAs, Advisors, and others must therefore consistently re-direct students to the online form, as central tracking and monitoring of these requests is important. The Office of the Dean of Students will receive requests, triage them, and ensure the appropriate Faculty/Instructor/Advisor/Staff is aware of the need for an academic consideration. The current assumption is that medical documentation pertaining to a general request for academic considerations due to COVID-19 will not be required.

Faculties who receive a request for an academic consideration from the Office of the Dean of Students are required to act and follow-up, although students must expect possible delays due to potential volume of requests. If it is not possible to select an appropriate and reasonable academic consideration, such a situation will need to be flagged to the appropriate Associate Dean and the Office of the Dean of Students.

Faculties will need to use academic considerations that suit the teaching context, are reasonable, and that are aligned with existing practices and policies, are feasible/possible to implement, and applied with as much consistency as possible. Some examples include:

  • Flexible grading schemes: As mentioned above, instructors proactively consider ways to include increased flexibility and student choice in assessments (i.e., the ability for students to drop a certain number of some assessments or quizzes, or perhaps to plan for alternative weighting strategies for some assessment types). When considering adjustments to courses, instructors must do so in a manner that is transparent and fully outlined in the course syllabus, but also in a way that enables equitable access to different considerations for students.
  • Audio and/or video equipped teaching rooms: Many of our larger classrooms are equipped with audio and/or video capture technology and classes could be recorded and made available following the class. Instructors/TAs teaching in such spaces will be encouraged to capture the activities through the Lecture Recording System (LRS). If the room is not LRS equipped, the instructor/TA may use Zoom, Camtasia, or another McGill-supported tool. The Instructor/TA will also need to ensure that students that are following asynchronously have a reasonable time period of access for questions and clarifications.
  • Zoom recordings: Students taking courses with online components may also need to request academic considerations. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to record sessions that are being delivered online, as a common practice. Doing so increases the accessibility of course material for all students, regardless of the need for academic consideration.
  • Make available recordings of classes from Academic Year 2020-21: Over the course of the 2020-21 academic year while we were in a primarily remote teaching environment, many courses were recorded. For courses where the curriculum has remained constant, and provided protection of past students’ rights to privacy can be maintained (notably that individual students from the past offerings are not identifiable), making some individual recordings available to students who might need to miss individual lectures is an option.
  • Withdrawal from a course, or courses, or “incomplete”, or Leave of Absence: It may not be possible to find an appropriate academic consideration and if too much material is missed, or absences become extended, it may be necessary to withdraw from a course or courses, or consider a grade of “incomplete”, or perhaps apply for a Leave of Absence. Such practices would need to align with existing regulations and practices in Faculties, and such requests may require documentation.
  • Other options may exist, and conversations with the appropriate Associate Dean, deanofstudents [at] mcgill.ca (Office of the Dean of Students), or perhaps tls [at] mcgill.ca (Teaching and Learning Services) may help instructors with finding solutions.

Disabilities, diagnosed long-term medical conditions, or other chronic issues: Long-term, chronic, or non-incidental absences are not covered by this framework, as they may require a different and longer term approach to academic accommodations, or may require a student to reconsider their course selection or registration status. Students who might have serious chronic illnesses connected to COVID-19, perhaps associated with a diagnosed and documented medical condition, or other disabilities, need to be directed to the Office of Students with Disabilities and/or their Student Affairs Office. Appropriate accommodations may not be possible for students who state that they are entirely unable to come to our campuses and in this case, they need to discuss with the appropriate Associate Dean of their Faculty.

COVID-19 cases in a classroom: There may be cases in which one or more COVID-19 cases occur in one teaching context, or possible case transmission occurs within one or more activities. The University’s Case Management group will be in a position to verify such situations, which may result in a need to immediately stop or adjust an in-person teaching activity. This approach will be triggered only by the Case Management group, in consultation with Public Health Authorities. The Office of the Dean of Students will notify the relevant parties (e.g., instructor, Faculty, Service Point) to discuss and support the implementation of an appropriate class-wide adjustment (e.g., immediate switch to online teaching) to ensure continuity of the course. Resumption of the activities will also be part of the planning.

 

 

[1] Please note that the terminology ‘academic considerations’ is being used instead of academic accommodations, as the latter are specifically overseen by the Office of Students with Disabilities, and/or other existing policies (e.g., the Policy for the Accommodation of Religious Holy days)

[2] The form is found under the “Personal” Tab, in MINERVA.

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