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OAS Policies Regarding Disability Accommodations and COVID

Remote Education for Students with Disability Accommodations

The University is taking several steps to minimize the potential spread of Sars-Cov-II. Among them, students, faculty, employees, and other members of the University Community will be required to use PPE in the classroom and other public spaces for Fall of 2020. However, there will be students for whom the nature of their disability precludes the use of either a mask or face shield. In these instances, and with appropriate medical documentation provided that supports the request, the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) may authorize Remote Education as an appropriate accommodation. 

In this context, Remote Education refers to the student attending class virtually with the use of a webcam or recording.  Instructors will be encouraged to reach out the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) at WVU to determine how remote learning may work in your class. Some options may include live streaming, video recording, or other options that can be discussed. If you have questions or need help facilitating remote learning in your classroom, please feel free to reach out to the TLC using their Assistance Request Form

Testing (quizzes and examinations) can be provided virtually (e.g., via ProctorU) or with the assistance of the WVU OAS Testing Center, as available. 

The process of accommodation request will follow our general office process: Students must register with OAS, schedule an appointment with an Accessibility Specialist, and provide medical documentation that supports their accommodation request. If the accommodation is authorized, it is the student’s responsibility to speak with the instructor about their need for accommodation. Instructors and their academic departments are encouraged to be flexible in responding to these requests. With any accommodation, a period of 7 days is provided to the instructor to implement the accommodation. 

An accommodation for Remote Education would not, ideally, alter the format of the class nor should it compromise the technical standards of the class. If, for example, a student registered for a lab-based course in which in-person participation is required to run experiments, remote learning may be impossible without violating the standards of the class. In such instances, the student should consider withdrawing from the course. Instructors and academic departments might consider the extent to which labs could be taken as a standalone class in subsequent semesters, if feasible. 

Remote learning requests related to acute illnesses, accidents, or factors related to increased risk of severe illness

Some students may wish to forego the use of PPE, or may desire remote education, as a result of non-disability related factors.  The Office for Accessibility Services does not handle non-disability related requests. Students who are seeking non-disability related modifications should speak with their academic advisor to determine what modifications can be made to their course schedules.  In cases where a student chooses to remain in their face to face class but has reason to learn remotely, they should speak with their individual instructors to see what modifications, if any, can be made. 

Instructors may reach out the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) at WVU to determine how remote learning may work in your class. Some options may include live streaming, video recording, or other options that can be discussed. If you have questions or need help facilitating remote learning in your classroom, please feel free to reach out to the TLC using their Assistance Request Form

Medical absence and Intermittent Attendance Policy

Students may miss class due to a variety of medical and health-related issues. There are two broad categories for such absences, including those resulting from emergent or acute medical concerns and illnesses, and those related to a disability(ies). A medical illness or injury is not the same thing as a disability. An illness or injury typically has a more acute or emergent quality. Disabilities are more often associated with significant limitations in major domains of personal, academic, and/or occupational functioning. When a student must be absent from class due to a medical illness, like COVID, they should contact their instructors directly. The WVU Division of Student Life can assist you in notifying your instructors. Please contact Kim Mosby in the Office of Student Life at 304-293-5811.

Regarding disability-related absences, it is important to consider that the course of some disabilities fluctuate over time. As such, student attendance can be affected by a variety of related factors, including an exacerbation of symptom severity, medication reactions, or even out-of-town medical appointments. Accordingly, a student may be eligible to receive intermittent attendance as an accommodation, provided that they are registered with the Office of Accessibility Services and have submitted the appropriate medical documentation that would confer eligibility for intermittent attendance. An Intermittent Attendance Form is provided to the instructor to communicate that a student has a disability which may affect their attendance; it is not meant to excuse absences.

Many factors must be considered before excusing a WVU student from class attendance due to health or disability. This includes the written attendance policy of the class, which is normally the final say. If attendance is essential to the class, an excuse not to attend and/or a request for an attendance accommodation may not be a viable option. The Office of Accessibility Services does not issue excuses for absences. If a class requires a degree of attendance that cannot be met by the student, withdrawal from the class may be a consideration.

Attendance policies for individual classes can be found on the course syllabus. WVU university-wide attendance policies, as set by the Office of the Provost, can also be found in the University Undergraduate Catalog and in the Faculty Handbook (August 2005), 4.2.5.2. These attendance policies apply to all students, regardless of disability status.