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Medical Excuse Policy

It is the policy of the College, as passed by the Faculty Senate many years ago, that the Student Health Service does not provide written excuses for class absences due to short term illnesses. There are several reasons for this policy.  

First, the requirement of written excuses fosters a certain amount of distrust between faculty and students.  The Student Code of Conduct addresses the need for students to be honest and trustworthy in their actions regarding all aspects of their education. Requiring a student to produce a note to “prove” they were ill goes against that trust; therefore it is best when students and faculty collaborate to resolve these issues.

Second, there are many patient confidentiality laws that must be observed. These laws make it very difficult to release any information about patients seen at Student Health Service.

Third, it would create an enormous burden on the Student Health Service if we were to write excuses for everyone who is sick. Our facilities and resources are very limited.  We currently see as many as 100 ill students a day who all require direct medical care which is critical to their health and well being.  Therefore, we are just not physically able to accommodate the extra burden that such a change in policy would create.

In addition, in many cases we have no first hand knowledge of student illnesses. Requiring written excuses would make many more students come to SHS only after they are better just to get a note for class. This would be wasteful of our already limited resources.

Finally, and most importantly, the CDC recommends that notes not be required to excuse ill students.  Making students come to SHS for a note just exposes them (and others) to more infectious diseases while at SHS.  Requiring a written excuse also makes students more likely to go to class when they are sick and should stay home.  This then becomes a public health issue.  When sick, the best place to be is home, away from others in order to reduce the transmission of illnesses around campus.  There should be no barriers that prevent students from being able to do so.

Student Health Service can help in the case of long term illnesses such as severe injuries, surgeries such as appendicitis, other severe illnesses which require hospitalization, or any problem which requires a student to be out of classes or sport activities for prolonged periods.  In these cases, provided that we have supportive documentation, SHS will provide a memo to the appropriate Associate Dean to substantiate the student's absences.

Thank you for your compliance with this policy.