Accommodation Requests Related to COVID-19

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 :: Dean of Students

All student requests for accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis by Student Accessibility Services (SAS).  A positive diagnosis of COVID-19 or being requested to isolate or quarantine by a health professional is not in itself sufficient to meet the definition for receiving ADA accommodations. A student’s particular disability condition, as documented by a qualified provider and communicated by the student, will be considered.   Determination of reasonable accommodations are made upon receipt of the student’s accommodation request (which can submitted via www.utrgv.edu/mySAS) and documentation of the disability condition, along with an interactive interview with the student.  SAS staff may also communicate with each of the student’s faculty regarding curriculum requirements and course structure.

  1. What type of accommodations can be provided to students taking in person or hybrid courses that are immunocompromised or have a health condition that may be at elevated risk?

Accommodations would be determined on an individual basis.  For in person or hybrid courses, accommodations may include, but are not limited to, attendance flexibility and remote participation, unless it would be a fundamental alteration.  A fundamental alteration is a change that significantly alters the essential course or program requirements.

At Risk Students- Students who by diagnosis are immunosuppressed or, because of a medical treatment plan, including medication, may have a suppressed immune system. Current CDC guidance for elevated risk from COVID-19 includes those at high-risk for severe illness. According to the CDC, high-risk for severe illness includes those of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as individuals with:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Please refer to the CDC website ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html) for frequently updated information. 

A student considered at risk and seeking accommodations should include documentation from their medical provider that describes the impact of the condition and risk factors and limitations due to COVID-19.

  1. What type of accommodations can be provided to students that, due to a special health related circumstance, cannot wear a face mask, but are enrolled in an in person or a hybrid course?

Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, remote participation, unless this would be a fundamental alteration of the curriculum or program requirements. For a student who is immunocompromised and has medical documentation that sufficiently supports not wearing a mask/facial covering as an accommodation, SAS staff would communicate with course instructors to determine if the student could complete course requirements remotely.

  1. What type of accommodations can be provided if a student enrolled in hybrid or in person courses has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is suspected of having COVID-19 , is waiting to get results, and/or has been directed to self-isolate or quarantine by a health professional?

A positive diagnosis of COVID-19 or being requested to isolate or quarantine by a health professional is not in itself sufficient to meet the definition for receiving ADA accommodations.  It may be possible for a student to continue their education remotely while they isolate or quarantine, wait for results, recuperate if asymptomatic, or experience minor symptoms that do not alter one or more life activity.  However, this can be addressed based on each instructor’s attendance policy, which can differ depending on the course, so please check each course syllabus. Instructors may excuse absences, provide the opportunity  to complete assignments, and provide a reasonable time to complete the assignment(s) in order for the student to make up the work that occurred during the missed class period(s).

If a student encounters health or medical complications as a result of COVID-19 that impact the student’s ability to continue his/her education, medical documentation which indicates impact on a major life activity as a result of the diagnosis should be provided to Student Accessibility Services so that reasonable accommodations can be evaluated for each course. The student should submit a request for accommodations through the mySAS portal located at www.utrgv.edu/mySAS.

  1. Can an instructor ask a student for documentation of their illness, if a student requests an extension on classwork?

You can require documentation that the student was sick and could not come to class, however, you should not ask for a diagnosis.  There are other illnesses that a student may have and other reasons for excused absences besides illness, including absences for official university activities.  If an absence is excused, students should be given the opportunity to complete the missed assignments, quizzes/examination or other class work and provided a reasonable time after the absence to do so.