Illness Policies

For all the cases described below, you must provide verification of your illness. A sound and valid verification of illness must accompany your request for any sort of exemption from course-related work.

These policies apply to all reasons for absence, such as needing to attend funerals or cultural events, as well as illness.

In general student illness is very inconvenient for two different groups of people, for very different reasons. For students who are ill, it is of course always inconvenient not to be able to do everything they normally can. But additionally, illness causes students to miss classes, assignment deadlines, and even examinations. For instructors and ISAs who need to deal with student illness, it is a real administrative problem. Examinations are normally held with all students in one place at one time to avoid any leakage of exam material. So re-scheduling can be difficult.

Different sorts of course components are typically handled differently, depending on the circumstances.


Normally, assignments are due at an exact time. The exact time should be indicated on each assignment. Instructors should also make an effort to have some consistency in the deadlines between different assignments, but this is not always possible.

Frequently it is permitted to hand in up to some fixed number of assignments late, with a fixed late deadline for each assignment. In this case, most illness is simply ignored - if a student needs to use a late on a particular assignment because they are ill, that is fine, and course staff don't need to hear about it. Note that in a case like this, course staff are probably not interested in knowing about it even if the student has already used up all their lates - it the student's responsibility to conserve lates and only use them when really needed, not just to deal with the case of not starting the assignment early enough.

If normal submission is impossible due to a severe illness, it may be possible to allow a late submission at the discretion of the instructor. This depends on what is involved in marking the assignment, whether solutions are being made available, and how other assignments depend on the assignment in question, among other factors. Another possibility is to excuse the student from the assignment - that is, the other assignments are averaged together as if they were the only assignments. In this case, the student should obtain a form from Health Services documenting the illness.

In the case where an absence is predictable in advance (for example, a cultural holiday), assignments will not usually be adjusted since allowing time off to observe the holiday is just a matter of time management to avoid having to do any work on the assignment during the period in question. However, if there is an issue, the student must speak to the instructor or ISA near the beginning of the term.


A midterm missed due to illness must be documented with a form from Health Services. If a midterm is written, no special action will be taken if the student decides afterward that they did not do a good job due to illness. Possible ways of dealing with a missed midterm include dropping it and letting the final examination count for more, or re-scheduling the midterm. Since the instructor has a lot of discretion in this, the single most important thing for students to do is contact their instructor as early as possible if they anticipate a problem with a midterm. Simply failing to appear or complaining of illness afterward are frowned upon.

For a predictable absence, any arrangements are at the instructor's discretion. If special arrangements are allowed, it would be typical to re-schedule the midterm. However, students in this situation are absolutely required to inform the instructor early, typically during the first week of classes. A student who asks an instructor for special treatment closer to the midterm risks being denied their request and having to make a choice between getting 0 on their midterm and missing the event which caused their request in the first place.

Final Exams

The rules for final exams are similar to midterms. The most important thing is to contact the instructor as early as possible with any concerns. Normally, the only way to deal with a missed final examination is to take an INC grade on the course and write the final the next time the course is offered.