Updated: July 10, 2020 at 12:51AM
As the University prepares for the resumption of in-person classes for the fall semester, undergraduate and graduate students, including those in professional schools, may seek COVID-19 related accommodations through Sara Bea Accessibility Services. The University’s guiding objective is for students to be on campus and present in person this fall.
Sara Bea Accessibility Services utilizes a streamlined intake form for student accommodation requests. The existing intake form has been broadened to include information about COVID-19 concerns that may extend beyond an individual’s disability (e.g., concern about attending classes on campus, or increasing exposure for a high-risk family member). In addition, the process allows for accommodation requests that reflect the multiple roles on campus fulfilled by graduate students (e.g., instructor of record, research assistant, teaching assistant).
Students who use this simple intake form will receive an immediate acknowledgment of Sara Bea’s receipt of their accommodation request. If students are seeking an accommodation based on their own disability, medical documentation will be required before an accommodation is approved. In order to engage students promptly and pastorally, Sara Bea staff will begin engagement with students even if medical documentation is forthcoming.
Each student’s accommodation’s request will be reviewed using an individualized and flexible approach. Accommodation requests cannot alter the fundamental components of a course, academic program, or activity or present an undue hardship to the University. Determinations will be made in consultation with the University official(s) responsible for the program or activity in question. By way of example, academic determinations will be based on close consultation with the student’s instructors and/or the leadership of the student’s program of study, which may include the dean or dean’s designee, department chair, director of graduate studies, academic advisor, and faculty mentor. The review process will also include programmatic specific considerations, which may include, but are not limited to, the importance of a predominantly residential experience for undergraduates, licensure implications for professional students, the impact on research, scholarship, and teaching responsibilities for graduate students, and the stage and research responsibilities of a student in his/her program. The Office of Institutional Equity will be consulted for graduate student accommodation requests involving their instructional or research roles to ensure institutional consistency with faculty requests. Any requests already submitted by graduate students to OIE will be coordinated with this process.
Sara Bea staff will remain in regular contact with students throughout the review and consultation process, and provide students with an accommodations decision in a prompt and thorough manner. Every effort will be made to offer reasonable accommodations that will enable a student to continue his/her education on campus and in person.
Given the University’s emphasis on holistic formation, fully remote instruction will not be offered to first-year undergraduate students, but these students will be able to defer their matriculation until Fall 2021.
Graduate student accommodation decisions will also include appropriate consideration of any implications related to funding, health insurance, and the student’s academic plan.
If a student objects to a denial of an accommodation request, or to the accommodations offered, the student may pursue several options. Students may seek a deferral, a leave, or a voluntary separation, subject to the appropriate academic code of their program. In addition, a student may utilize the University’s regular grievance procedure for appeals. Regardless of accommodation decisions, Sara Bea staff will also proactively refer students to other campus resources who can offer relevant support, assistance, and advice regarding their COVID-related concerns.