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September 23, 2021: Handling COVID Absences from Classes

Message from ESU Future Planning Group

September 23, 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We have received questions about absences from class caused by COVID (testing, exposure, actual illness). We wanted to offer clarification.

Today, we communicated to students their responsibilities for notifying you about class absences caused by COVID (testing, exposure, actual illness). See the full communication.

In general:

  • Students only notify the Office of Student Affairs if they need to isolate or quarantine because of COVID, which means they will need to miss class.
  • Student Affairs will notify students’ individual instructors.
  • Students also are responsible to communicate with you during this time and when they plan to return to class, as well as any changes to that return date. Students also must work with on you on a plan to make up work.

Here is what you can expect as class instructors, along with guidance developed in consultation with faculty leaders.

  • If a student tells you they need to miss class to quarantine or isolate, please tell them to contact the Office of Student Affairs ( This allows Student Affairs to close the loop. This is especially important if you have not heard from Student Affairs yet.
  • Student Affairs will not be involved in communication between students and faculty about absences for testing. Student Affairs only becomes involved at the isolation/quarantine phase.
  • Faculty have been excusing absences caused by COVID quarantine or isolation.
  • Students and faculty should work together on a plan to make up work from the absence.
  • If absences are not connected to COVID quarantine or isolation, you should follow the absence policy you have included in your syllabus. Situations include:
    • Missed class for COVID testing. It is important to know that students get tested in various locations within Emporia and that test appointments fill up quickly, therefore same-day testing is not always available. Students should not be attending class if they are waiting for a COVID testing appointment.
    • Absences beyond the date the student indicated they would return — unless they communicate that change to you.
  • Do not contact Student Affairs if a student doesn’t return from isolation or quarantine when expected. After the initial communication from Student Affairs, handling the absence is between you and the student. If the absences become excessive, please submit at Early Alert.

Non-COVID Absences

Please know that the Office of Student Affairs will continue to be contacted by students when they will miss class for a lengthier period of time because of unforeseen circumstances like hospitalization, death in a family, surgical procedures and recovery, etc. When Student Affairs receives these communications from students, you will continue to be notified by Student Affairs.

Please consider retention efforts and reach out to students who miss class. This could be a quick note — We missed you in class; Hope to see you back in class. Remember, you can submit an Early Alert so that others can reach out to students.

Finally, a reminder that wearing masks remains a highly effective way to lessen the spread of COVID-19. At Emporia State University, masks must be worn in all buildings. The only exceptions are when you are alone — in your self-contained office (not a cubicle).

We appreciate the work you have been doing to keep students in face-to-face classes. We hope this guidance will help you as we move forward.


ESU Future Planning Group