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Frequently Asked Questions


These FAQs have been developed to better assist faculty and staff in understanding the new regulation for missed or late academic requirements due to student absence and the new Student Declaration of Absence (SDA) form. 

Implementating SDA Forms

Does the new regulation apply to all faculties?

The Faculties of Medicine, Law, Dentistry and the College of Pharmacy are officially exempt from the new regulation and will not be using the SDA forms.

Do I need to implement the regulation in 2018 spring and summer courses?

The SDA is available for use; however, full implementation and central tracking of absences is not expected until the fall term.

Students are required to confirm if the self-declaration of absence option is available to them by checking with their instructor(s) or referring to their faculty, college, school, instructor-specific, or course-specific syllabi and guidelines, and work-integrated learning handbook policies.  

Can I wait until September 2018 to implement the new regulation in my course?

Yes. The new regulation will be officially added to the Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Calendars for the fall term of 2018/19. Brightspace functionality to centrally track and measure the student self-declaration of absence submissions will be available by September 2018.

I want to implement the new regulation within my course. Is there suggested language I can use within my syllabus?

The Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) has edited the “Course Syllabus Template” to assist you. The template can be found here. If you need further assistance, please contact CLT at 902-494-1622 or clt@dal.ca

Can I use the new regulation and tailor it to better align with my coursework expectations for students?

Yes.  Course instructors may approve exceptions to this new regulation to support students in successful completion of academic requirements. Faculties, colleges, and schools may approve changes to absence reporting timelines, the number of self-declaration of absence submissions, and to methods for providing absence information for the academic unit.


Students and SDA Forms

Does the new Student Declaration of Absence form need to be submitted if a student misses class but there is no academic requirement due?

No. The regulation’s intent is to support students who miss or submit late an academic requirement due to their absence of 3 days or less.

If class attendance/participation is considered an academic requirement for your course, the student self-declaration of absence would be applicable.

Does the new regulation mean that Student Health and Wellness will never write a sick note for a student?

Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness will only provide sick notes or medical certificates to students for short-term absences in the following cases:

  1. A student’s Faculty or instructor is not using the “Student Absence Regulation”,
  2. The missed or late academic requirement is considered final coursework, or
  3. The test or exam falls within the last two weeks of an academic term.

Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness professional counsellors will only provide a sick note or medical certificate for short-term absences in the above cases and if a student is a current client receiving ongoing counselling.

Students are encouraged to stay at home if they have a communicable illness (such as flu-like symptoms) that is manageable at home to prevent further spread of illness to other students, staff or instructors.

For long-term absences, Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness health providers will only provide documentation for students who have been under the care of a physician, registered nurse, social worker, psychologist, counsellor, or psychiatrist during the period of absence and/or for management of long-term or chronic physical or mental health conditions. 

In addition, the SDA form cannot be used for any final coursework or exams and students must follow faculty, college, school, instructor-specific, or course-specific syllabi and guidelines, and work-integrated learning handbook policies.  

Does the new regulation change the way I am already compensating or accommodating students for missed or late academic requirements?

No. You may continue to compensate or accommodate students for missed or late academic requirements as you have before.

There are many options for faculty to adopt the new SDA form within their course(s). As a resource for course instructors, CLT has provided a Faculty Strategies for Addressing Missed or Late Academic Requirements. If you need further assistance, please contact CLT at 902-494-1622 or clt@dal.ca

 

How will the new regulation be communicated to students?

Starting in January. Student Affairs will be embarking on a full communications plan to inform students about the new regulation and the self-declaration of absence process.

Prior to using the form, students will be required to confirm if the Student Declaration of Absence form option is available to them by checking with their instructor(s) or referring to their faculty, college, school, instructor-specific, or course-specific syllabi and guidelines, and work-integrated learning handbook policies.  

 


Tracking SDA Forms

How will tracking and reporting on student absences, in relation to the new regulation, take place?

For instructors using the SDA forms within their course(s), Academic Technology Services will be compiling reports by course and by Faculty. These reports will be sent to a Faculty designate as defined by your Dean.

Tracking and measuring usage of the SDA forms within Brightspace is crucial to the assessment and success of the new regulation.

In addition, the Student Success Centre and Student Access and Academic Support will be tracking trends of students seeking support, advising and/or accommodations in relation to the new regulation.

If I chose not to use Brightspace to implement the Student Declaration of Absence form into my course, can I still track its usage?

For instructors not using Brightspace to implement the Student Declaration of Absence form, it is up to the individual faculties to decide how to track and monitor the self-declaration form. Instructors should speak to their Deans, Associate or Assistant Dean for further instructions.


Brightspace and SDA Forms

Do I have to use Brightspace to accept the self-declaration forms?

No. You may ask students to submit the form in-person or through email if you wish. However, these absences will not be included in the Brightspace reporting mechanism. 

The Brightspace zip file did not work for me - what can I do?

Some browsers automatically unzip zip files when they are downloaded. If you have clicked on the Brightspace instructions and it doesn’t seem to be working for you, please check to see if the original zip file is in your downloads folder for you to import.

If you are using Safari to download the zip package, be sure that the files remain intact as a zip package. To do so: click Safari, then Preferences. At the bottom of the ‘General’ section, uncheck the box that says ‘open safe files after downloading’. Then, try downloading the zip again.

If you are still experiencing issues, please contact Academic Technology Services at 902-494-3456 or support@Dal.Ca



If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the student form or the new regulation, please contact Emily Huner – Director of Operations, Student Health & Wellness at emily.huner@dal.ca or (902) 494-1252.