Returning to Campus FAQ

Last updated: August 24, 2022 at 9:32am

Planning for Flexibility – What happens if a student misses classes due to illness?

If a student cannot attend a class due to illness, they have to report to the instructor that they will not be present in the class. Given we want to ensure that those who are ill stay home, a doctor’s note is not required. As is always the case, the instructor determines how to best accommodate students within the context of their individual course. The following are a few suggestions we have compiled based on input from faculty members.

Set norms in advance for what students should do if they miss classes due to an illness and post the plan in Moodle where students can easily find it.  The plan should include:

  • how students will be notified if the course moves online,
  • how students should notify the instructor(s) if they are ill,
  • what to do if their illness overlaps with a major assessment,
  • how to get notes and course materials if students cannot attend,
  • If/when you hold office hours in an online space (e.g. Zoom, MS Teams).

Use a shared online space with your students, such as Moodle or MS Teams, to provide a base for your class from where all your important information and content flows, e.g. syllabus, recorded lectures, assignment hand-in areas, discussion boards. If students are familiar with your class layout it is less traumatic to switch to online.  References to the tips below are for Moodle, but can be applied to any online classroom tool of your choice:

  • Post your class resources like the syllabus, slides, and handouts in organized modules (weekly or by unit) so students can find things easily. Aim to create a structure that allows a student to understand the flow of thecourse (expectations by week/unit) without guidance from you.
  • Include, where possible, detailed descriptions of things usually said verbally
  • Update all students via the class list or the announcement forum. Note that you can overrule the 30 min. time delay by choosing advanced options.
  • Set up a discussion forum for FAQs and/or for some asynchronous class discussions, if needed. The 30 min time delay function can also be overruled.

During the pandemic, many faculty developed online resources that will continue to benefit students in the years to come. Review what you developed and consider whether it might be a useful resource for your temporarily remote students. Re-using online resources such as classroom recordings and online activities can help remote students access and review course material at their own pace and keep on track while waiting to return to the classroom.  

Consider your exams and midterms. What alternatives might be valuable to assess learning? Multiple-choice, short answers exams via Moodle are time-consuming to build, so start building these early with your Teaching Centre support team.   

Consider student workload in all your course preparations. Students found smaller, lower-stakes quizzes and frequent assignments difficult to adjust to. Make sure all assessment dates are very clear, give enough notice of due dates, and encourage students to study and review 

Consider not using attendance or in-class assignments for participation grades, as well as having flexibility for deadlines. Students need to feel they can stay at home if they are sick without losing grades.  If you are having multiple assignments, can they choose to keep 8/10 assignments? Drop the lowest grade? Some instructors give a one-time no questions asked assignment deadline extension, 3-5 days for example.   

Consider having all assignments handed in using the online assignment dropbox in Moodle  - this is to ensure that students that cannot attend class (for illness, weather, etc) can still submit assignments on time and easily.      

The student is responsible to communicate with the instructor prior to the exam and make appropriate arrangements. Given we want to ensure that those who are ill stay home, a doctor’s note is not required.

Consider building some aspects of your course (e.g., content and activities from one module) that are independent of previous aspects and may not require in-person interaction. This content could be taught remotely near the end of the course or moved earlier in the schedule if the whole class must self-isolate.

For labs, having some weeks planned for students to work independently and flexibly has been successful in situations wherethere has been a need to move to remote without notice.

Have lab data or images for analysis ready to go in a digital format in case face-to-face labs are cancelled. Can students make a video of the subject matter?  

One of the methods of supporting students who are absent from class is through the new Lecture Capture now installed in many of our classrooms.


* lecture capture systems may not be available in EVERY Classroom. Be sure to check if it is available in your classroom of choice first.


Even though you may have experience with online and in-person teaching, having students who are both on-campus and remote at the same time is probably a new experience. Observe how your on-campus students respond to your teaching and pay close attention to student engagement. Also, reach out to your temporarily remote students via email or a brief survey for feedback. Where possible, make adjustments and integrate their suggestions. More information about mid-course feedback is available for instructors. 

If an instructor anticipates not being available to teach in-person due to a sudden and unforeseen event or for an extended amount of time due to extenuating circumstances, as in pre-pandemic times, they need to discuss this with their department/area chair (where applicable) and Dean’s Office after which an appropriate decision will be made.


1. Some students are unable to attend  

2. The instructor is unable to teach in person

3 The whole class is unable to meet in person

Share plans with students

  • Email impacted students directly
  • Update students by making announcements in Moodle or MS Teams
  • Refer students to the guidelines in your syllabus you discussed with them in advance

Move office hours

  • Schedule office time using Zoom, MS Teams or a tool of your choice and direct students to explanations of how to use it

Choose to hold interactive elements in Moodle/ MS Teams or Zoom

  • Instruct students who cannot attend how they can make up a missed live class.
  • Set up a discussion forum in Moodle
  • Use Zoom breakout rooms for synchronous small group discussions and create accountability tasks for each group to guide the students.

Move assessment into the best technology

  • Have students submit their work electronically (Moodle submissions, for instance, allow you to organize all class assessments in one space)
  • Choose an online technology that best fits your assessment intentions.

Choose to capture and share video of your course content 

  • Schedule a record of the in-person session.
  • Reuse content previously created, if available.
  • Reuse content created for remote teaching, where possible OR record before class and post to your shared online space for students to access.

Health measures in classrooms- FAQ

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