Update Sept. 15 at 8:41pm: According to a statement from UNC Media Relations to The Daily Tar Heel, the University Approved Absence Office adopted a new streamlined approach to handle University Approved Absences for students, directed by a medical provider, to strictly isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
"Starting this week, students who are medically directed to isolate or quarantine by Campus Health will automatically receive a PDF of their UAA, which they can then forward to their professors or instructors," the statement reads. "This is only applicable for those students who have worked with Campus Health in relation to required isolation and/or quarantine."
With COVID-19 clusters reported in Avery, Ehringhaus, Parker and Hinton James residence halls since the start of classes on Aug. 18, some students will need to miss in-person instruction in order to quarantine or isolate.
UNC Media Relations said students can have their class absences excused for COVID-19-related isolation if they submit a request form to the University Approved Absence Office (UAAO).
According to the University Approved Absence Office's website, students should first contact their instructors about missing class to determine if submitting an absence request form is necessary.
“It is not required of instructors that an absence be University approved by the UAAO, but if an instructor would prefer that the circumstances of the absence be verified, they may refer you to our office,” the website states.
Professors have the flexibility to make arrangements with students on an individual basis. Provost Robert Blouin emphasized this flexibility at the Aug. 11 Campus and Community Advisory Committee meeting.
“We are asking faculty to be flexible and compassionate with our students, realizing that we’re going to have to be accommodating to the best that we can without necessarily changing completely our format,” Blouin said at the meeting.
Aside from COVID-19, absences are approved for authorized University activities, religious observances, disabilities, significant health conditions, and family emergencies, according to the University Approved Absence Office's website.
Victoria Graham, a sophomore pre-business major, said the overall attendance policies in her classes seem strict.
“Some of them were, if you missed the very first day, you’re automatically dropped from the class,” Graham said. “Some of them said that you had three unexcused absences before you got dropped from the class, or your grade became an F.”
However, Graham said, when it came to COVID-19 exposure or illness, her professors said they are willing to work with students and allow them to miss classes.
Jack Hwang, a junior statistics major, has all in-person classes this semester. He said his professors did not give much information about how COVID-19-related absences are excused but said they advised students to stay at home if exposed or experiencing symptoms.
The Media Relations statement said students who have questions about attendance should contact their instructors immediately.
The absence request form asks students who were seen by an off-campus health care provider to attach documents showing they were ordered to quarantine or isolate. Additionally, these students must contact Campus Health with this information. Students who are seen by Campus Health do not have to provide documentation.
“To minimize the need for students to provide additional documentation to the UAAO about their quarantine or isolation, Campus Health will work directly with the UAAO to verify requests for an approved absence,” the statement from Media Relations said.
The form allows students to list up to 10 instructors to notify them of their absence if the request is approved.
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