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Accommodation Request to Teach Online During COVID-19 Pandemic

Request for accommodation information


In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, faculty may request to teach online, as an accommodation, through the process outlined below. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides the framework, and the federal Department of Labor provides a list of diagnoses for employees at higher risk during this pandemic. Emporia State’s process for requesting an accommodation involves the supervisor and/or Dean, and the Provost, and is designed to maintain the privacy of the employee’s medical information as required under federal law. Please follow the process detailed below, and contact Human Resources with any questions.

Background Information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment. Qualified individuals with disabilities are provided an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities provided to others.”
  • Disabilities for the purposes of employment are defined as physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more life activities or bodily functions. There is no list of qualifying disabilities, as disability is determined based upon the impacts to the affected individual.
  • The federal Department of Labor has issued guidance on the intersection of COVID-19 and the ADA, including the opportunity for employers to provide an abbreviated interactive accommodation process to address accommodations specific to or associated with COVID-19.

Rights of the Employee

  • To request or not request accommodation
  • Diagnosis is limited to those with a need to know, as defined by the University
  • Medical documentation of diagnosis is securely maintained by Human Resources, separate from personnel information
  • Interactive participation in the accommodation process

Rights of the Employer

  • Access to personal health information of the employee requesting an accommodation, specific to the medically diagnosed disability, including but not limited to:
    • Diagnosis by a health care provider as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act
    • Unique ways in which the disability affects the employee, when applicable
    • Disability-based needs to be met for accommodation (which is not the same as the final accommodation)
  • Interactive participation in the accommodation process
  • Final decision-making regarding reasonable accommodations

Qualifications for Abbreviated Accommodation

To qualify for the abbreviated accommodation process, the faculty member must:

1) Request an accommodation to teach class(es) online instead of face-to-face

  • the employee is responsible for requesting accommodation for each semester as course loads generally change between semesters

2) Provide medical documentation from a qualified health care provider, indicating a higher risk for severe illness as a result of one or more of the following diagnoses:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher as evidenced by medical documentation)
  • Overweight (BMI ≥ 25 but < 30)
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking (as determined by a health care provider)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Age 65 or older (no documentation required)

Requests for accommodation outside of these criteria will be forwarded to Human Resources for coordination.

Process for Requesting Abbreviated Accommodation

1) Obtain documentation from your health care provider regarding one or more diagnoses that require accommodation (you may have already provided this).

2) In Forms Central, complete the employee portion of the ADA Accommodations request form, including:

  • ESU Username (which will prepopulate portions of the form);
  • The accommodation(s) requested;
  • Attach documentation of diagnosis from your medical provider, unless documentation has been previously submitted (Please note in the accommodation request if documentation has been previously provided, to whom, and approximately when the documentation was provided.); and
  • Submit the form, which will be routed to your supervisor.

3) Your supervisor will review the accommodation request to determine whether the accommodation meets the criteria for the abbreviated accommodation process.

4) Qualifying requests will result in a brief, documented meeting between the employee and the supervisor to confirm the request, and to clarify the accommodations to be made. This meeting is required, and serves as the abbreviated interactive process for the employee and the university.

5) If the interactive conversation confirms the above criteria and the supervisor agrees that the request is reasonable, the supervisor will forward the request for approval to their respective Dean and the Provost. Human Resources will complete a final review to ensure all steps have been fully completed.

6) Upon final approval, Human Resources will send communication to all parties involved, ensuring clarity of the final accommodation. This documentation shall be maintained in the employee’s medical file.

Because these accommodations are specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, the employee is responsible for requesting accommodation for each semester as course loads generally change between semesters.

  • No additional medical documentation will be required beyond the first accommodation request.
  • Approval for this accommodation may be reasonable during the pandemic and would reasonably end when the pandemic is declared over by federal and/or state public health officers.

If a request for accommodation is denied at any point in this process, the request will be referred to Human Resources for further coordination and interactive process for accommodation.

Employees who believe they have been harassed or discriminated against for requesting accommodation or participating in the interactive process should contact the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at or by phone at 620-341-5077.