When Students Get Sick

The guidelines below apply only to students dealing with a temporary illness or injury. These guidelines do not apply to those with documented disabilities who have been granted academic accommodations by Student Accessibility Services.

Medical Illness Documentation Policy

Under university policy, your students are expected to negotiate any adjustments in academic requirements due to illness directly with you, their professor. Tufts Health Service provides medical documentation in only limited circumstances. Students who are too ill to take an in-class midterm or final exam will be offered medical documentation.  They must be seen at Health Services prior to the exam and must notify their professor prior to the exam. 

We ask that faculty honor this form of documentation and hold a make-up exam or provide another arrangement so the student will not be penalized for being ill. For short-term illnesses lasting one week or less, students should fill out the online Short-Term Illness Notification. This form should be used to keep you and the student’s advisors and deans informed when the student misses classes, labs, seminars, quizzes, papers, oral presentations, and take home exams due to illness.

This electronic notification does not excuse an absence or override your class attendance policy. Its purpose is to alert you when a student is ill. Students with contagious illness or flu symptoms are encouraged to stay home and not attend class. Students who are ill for a week or longer will be offered medical documentation through Health Service or their dean.

Concussions, Cognitive Rest and Temporary Academic Adjustments

Concussions, Cognitive Rest and Temporary Academic Adjustments
Tufts Health Services, Athletics, and the Associate Deans of Undergraduate Education work as a team to monitor students with concussions and keep faculty informed. If one of your students has been diagnosed with a concussion, you will be notified by the student’s dean, and the dean will give you guidance about the student’s academic needs.

A student who has sustained a concussion should have complete rest for the first 24-48 hours and limit activity until symptoms such as headaches, difficulty thinking, forgetfulness, and dizziness subside. This period of rest requires students to avoid reading, writing, watching TV, using computers, concentrating, or exercising while the brain heals. Most students can gradually resume most activities within 10 days, although some students may have more prolonged symptoms.  You can read more about concussions on the physical health website.

Academic adjustments after a concussion might include excused absences, postponed exams, extensions on assignments, note-takers, or possibly if the concussion happens late in the term, an Incomplete. The dean will keep you informed about whether a student has been cleared by Health Services to resume academic activities or requires a longer period of limited activity or academic supports. 

If a concussion symptoms persist for more than three weeks (rare), the student may be eligible for academic accommodations authorized by Student Accessibility Services. If so, that office will send the student’s you a formal notice of accommodations to be provided for the rest of the semester.

If a student tells you that he or she has a concussion, requests accommodations from you, or gives you a doctor’s note from a non-Tufts professional, contact the student’s dean. When it comes to temporary academic adjustments for a concussion or other illness, we ask that you follow the guidance of the student’s dean or Student Accessibility Services rather than accept a checklist of accommodations from an off-campus professional.

If a student tries to resume academic work too soon after a concussion and seems to be suffering through headaches, nausea, dizziness, or other symptoms, contact the student’s dean. Tufts athletes are monitored carefully for concussions and are not permitted to resume competitive sports until they are first able to resume normal academic activities and pass a battery of tests administered by Sports Medicine.

Excessive Absences

If an illness or injury is serious enough to cause a student to miss more than two weeks of class, the student’s dean will usually recommend a medical leave. We cannot force a student to take a medical leave, and professors may not ban a student from class. If a student misses more than two weeks of your class and cannot reasonably make up the missed work, consult with the student’s dean.

Student Privacy

You should not request doctor’s notes or medical documentation from students, except when your student misses a midterm or final examination. Instead, consult with the student’s dean.

Deans are better equipped to deal with medical documentation and other confidential student matters and can provide guidance on these matters. The dean may already be aware of the medical reasons behind a student’s hospitalization or need for temporary academic adjustments. Please understand if the dean is legally or ethically obligated not to share details of the student’s medical situation with you.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

It is a good idea to include a statement on your syllabus or course Canvas site about classroom accommodations for students with disabilities. The Office of Student Accessibility Services has provided the following language for faculty to include on syllabi:

Tufts University values the diversity of our students, staff, and faculty, recognizing the important contribution each makes to our unique community. Students with disabilities are assured that the Student Accessibility Services office will work with each student individually to ensure access to all aspects of student life. Tufts is committed to providing equal access and support to all students through the provision of reasonable accommodations so that each student may access their curricula and achieve their personal and academic potential.  If you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodations, please contact the Student Accessibility Services office at 617-627-4539, or at Accessibility@tufts.edu to make an appointment with the director to determine appropriate accommodations. Please be aware that accommodations cannot be enacted retroactively, making timeliness a critical aspect for their provision.

CMHS Medical Excuse Policy
It is university policy that students are expected to negotiate any adjustments in academic requirements due to illness or other concerns directly with their faculty. CMHS cannot provide documentation for student clients who miss class(es) due to mental health issues/concerns. Students who miss class, exam(s) or assignment(s) due to mental health concerns or crisis are encouraged to consult their syllabus, notify their faculty and connect with their Advising Dean if they will not be able to attend class. It is at the discretion of the faculty to determine when or if a student will be excused from class.