Policy Title: Attendance and Class Meetings Policy

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs
Policy Officer: Chief Academic Officer
|Faculty |Student

Approved By: Office of the President

Approved Date: 7/22/2021

Effective Date: 7/22/2021

Category: Academics



This policy applies to students and faculty with respect to all graduate and undergraduate courses offered, regardless of their modality.


To establish policy, procedures, and guidelines for the management of attendance for both on-ground and online students and their attendance records in accordance with state (22 PA Code) and federal regulations (34 CFR 668.22).



Under direction of the Chief Academic Officer, all Deans, Department Chairs and Program Coordinators shall implement this policy. All faculty shall ensure compliance with the policy. Saint Francis University is declared as an "attendance taking institution." Hence, for compliance for Title IV eligibility, all faculty in all classes are required to take/record attendance. The University believes that students themselves are primarily responsible for attendance and class participation.


1. Responsibilities of All Students

  1. Students are expected to attend each meeting of each scheduled class for which they are officially registered and are responsible for knowing their instructors' attendance policies as stated in the syllabus. If a course, regardless of modality, has synchronous online activities announced in the syllabus, students are also expected to attend those.
  2. Undergraduate and graduate students who are absent for the reasons listed below (approved as excused by the University) must inform their instructors directly of their absence and provide documentation to the Center for Academic Success for official notification distribution. For planned absences, notice must be given before the missed class meeting.
    1. Military obligation;
    2. Serious illness or injury of the student with prescribed orders not to attend class;
    3. Medical absence due to a documented disability;
    4. Death of a member of the student's immediate family (defined only as parent, legal guardian, sibling, child, spouse or life partner, grandparent and grandchild);
    5. Approved athletics participation;
    6. Participation in professional conference or meeting;
    7. At the request of the university.
  3. In the case of unexpected absences (e.g., illness), documentation must be provided as soon after the absence as possible. Students must consult with their instructors to determine what is considered acceptable documentation.
  4. Saint Francis University respects the diversity of faiths and spiritual practices in the University community. Students planning to observe religious holidays that occur on scheduled class days must inform their instructors at the beginning of the semester. Students who make such arrangements will not be required to attend class or take examinations on the designated days.
  5. In the case of rare and compelling circumstances not listed above, students should make every effort to discuss reasonable accommodations with their instructors in advance (if feasible) or as soon as possible afterward.
  6. Students reporting late for class may be denied admission by the instructor and reported as absent.
  7. Should absence, tardiness, or early departure be necessary, students are responsible for the material covered during the absence. Faculty cannot grant requests for excessive amounts of make-up material.
  8. Students who know they will miss a class as part of an accelerated course in module format (less than the full semester) require the approval of the instructor prior to registration.

1.1 Responsibilities of All Students in Online Courses:

a. Federal regulations require that students in an online course establish attendance. It is required that all students document online attendance by submitting an assignment (assignment, discussion board post, quiz, or synchronous meeting) to the learning management system within the first week. A week as defined in the withdrawal policy starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. The first calendar day of class is the official start date as posted on the Saint Francis University Academic Calendar. 

b. Logging into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to document attendance. Even if an extension is granted during the first week, students still need to submit work (even partial) to an assignment within the first week. Failure by a student to participate in online courses during the first week, will lead to the student being notified and automatically dropped from the course and can affect eligibility for financial aid.

c. Once students begin participating in an online course class, they are considered active and are responsible for adhering to all university policies and tuition fees. It is up to the student to complete the proper procedures if they wish to drop or withdraw after participating. The last submission within the LMS will be used to establish the last day of attendance for financial aid purposes. For courses scheduled for five weeks or less, please review the refunds and withdrawals policy.

2. Responsibilities of Faculty

  1. Saint Francis University requires all faculty to keep accurate attendance records to verify student attendance in compliance with federal financial aid regulations. Every instructor maintains a record of attendance and determines how absences will affect a student's grade, as explained in the course syllabus.
  2. For compliance with federal and state law and to provide the best monitoring for improved student success and retention, these absences are required to be tracked using the attendance tool in the learning management system. Faculty may take attendance using an alternative method. However, weekly attendance needs to be reported in the learning management system. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) will assist in developing a site for each course in the learning management system, and for guidance in using the attendance and other tools.
  3. When designing online courses:
    1. Require an assignment (assignment, discussion board post, quiz, or synchronous meeting) to be submitted by students to the learning management system and due within the first week of the course to establish attendance.
    2. Require interaction each week and at least one academic-related activity per week to document attendance and have clear documentation of a students last date of participation within the LMS.
    3. Faculty must also record attendance for synchronous online meetings and have documentation within the LMS.
    4. There could be considerations in 15-week courses for less frequent interactions such as projects that span two-weeks after attendance has been established during the first week.
  4. In addition to the learning management system, faculty may also maintain an alternative record for the purposes of grading. Being marked as present for attendance purposes does not obligate the instructor to give the student credit for participation for grading purposes.
  5. Instructors must provide students with written statements of their policies in the course syllabus with respect to what constitutes attendance and how participation will be evaluated in courses delivered fully or primarily online. See, for instance, section 3, entry a.
  6. When students are required to attend an examination, performance, field trip, rescheduled class, or any other commitment outside regularly scheduled class times, accommodations or alternative arrangements must be available for students who cannot attend. Students who experience lack of reasonable accommodation by a faculty member may immediately appeal to the department chair or program director.
  7. Faculty are under no obligation to make special provisions for students absent for reasons other than those listed above or in cases where acceptable documentation was not provided. However, faculty are encouraged to consider accommodations for rare and compelling circumstances.
  8. Faculty may establish additional attendance criteria that are reasonable and consistent with this policy. Criteria may include setting a maximum number of absences for a course (whether excused or unexcused) which may affect the student's overall course grade as described in the Grading System Policy.
  9. The Grading System Policy states faculty could assign a grade of "FF" to students who fail a course due to habitual absenteeism defined as "two weeks of unexcused absence from a class that follows a conventional 16-week semester schedule." That formula will be applied proportionally to compressed classes that meet according to different schedules. A week is Monday 12:00 a.m. EST to Sunday at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  10. Since students may be permitted to add courses beyond the official start date of the semester (drop/add period), instructors should be attentive to student enrollment dates when assessing adequate participation and attendance.
  11. Faculty teaching undergraduate or graduate courses shall report excessive absences to the Center for Academic Success who, in turn, will contact the student's advisor. The University attempts to maintain a safe, positive, and nurturing atmosphere to help every student succeed. Once reported, efforts will be made to intervene with the student to accommodate any reasons for the absenteeism. The Center for Academic Success may contact a dependent student's parent in accordance with FERPA regulations.
  12. If intervention is not successful, a student with habitual absenteeism may be subjected to immediate dismissal from the University. If dismissed for attendance issues, the student must sit out for the period of one entire semester after the semester of dismissal (semester includes fall or spring).

3. Definition of Attendance (as defined in 34 CFR 668.22(l)(7))

  1. Attendance at Saint Francis University is defined as academic engagement which can vary depending on the delivery method or type of course. Academic engagement can include, but is not limited to, any of the following:
    1. Attending a synchronous class, lecture, recitation, or field or laboratory activity, physically or online, where there is an opportunity for interaction between the instructor and students;
    2. Submitting an academic assignment;
    3. Taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; and
    4. Participating in an online discussion about academic matters.
  2. The following activities where students may be present, but not academically engaged, do not establish attendance:
    1. Living in institutional housing;
    2. Participating in the institution's meal plan;
    3. Logging into an online class without active participation (e.g. without performing any of the actions described in entries 2-4 of the previous list); or
    4. Participating in academic counseling or advisement.
  3. Attendance is recorded for the day the action was completed regardless of the day a particular assignment or item was due.

4. Class Meetings and Cancellations

  1. Faculty are required to meet with students according to the assigned days and time periods provided in the master schedule. Class periods should begin and end at the assigned time.
  2. Faculty are encouraged to begin class with a prayer.
  3. If an instructor is more than ten minutes late for class, the students may rightfully assume that the instructor will be absent.
  4. If an instructor does not hold class during a regularly scheduled class time, the instructor must contact the department chair or program director beforehand, indicating what arrangements have been made for the class (e.g., have a faculty colleague teach; have a faculty colleague administer an examination; schedule a makeup class; give an alternative assignment to replace the classroom learning). Faculty are strongly urged to avoid absences immediate before or after scheduled vacation periods.
  5. Faculty should provide as much advance notice to students as possible when class will be canceled or rescheduled. Ideally, any anticipated changes will be announced on the first day of class, listed in the course syllabus, and shown on the class calendar in the learning management system. At the minimum, faculty will inform students at least one class prior to the class meeting that will be changed. If an instructor must unexpectedly cancel class within 24 hours of its scheduled time (due to illness, accident, etc.), the instructor should announce the class change via email and notification on the learning management system.
  6. If a class is canceled for any reason (by the University or the instructor), the instructor has the responsibility to schedule the equivalent learning time for any class meetings missed. Equivalent learning time might include a makeup face-to-face class, a virtual class meeting, or an equivalent learning experience for the class time missed. Class makeup options can be listed in the syllabus at the beginning of the semester and communicated to the department chair or program director and/or dean when a cancellation occurs. If a class is rescheduled by the instructor due to a University cancellation, the new scheduled time should be consulted with the students. Furthermore, this make-up class would be considered an official class time and as such, it has precedent over conflicts with other activities (e.g., varsity sport practice times).
  7. If the University cancels classes (e.g., community service on RED Day, weather reasons), no classes or laboratories will meet on ground during those designated times. Virtual classes may be required on that day. If the University cancels classes or adopts a compressed schedule for community service on RED Day, laboratory instruction will be allowed to proceed as originally scheduled in order to not affect laboratory instruction on other days of the week. The University may schedule a Saturday makeup day for undergraduate classes that faculty may use when an entire day is canceled due to an emergency. The Altering Class Schedule/Class Cancellation/Inclement Weather/Declared Virtual Class Day policy applies when cancellation is due to weather.
  8. Class events scheduled and required in the syllabus are considered to be official class events and, as such, they take precedence over conflicts with other activities. These events include university-wide lectures (e.g., Ethics Lecture), presentations by discipline-related invited speakers, common hour exams, lectures made up to account for the instructor professional travel, or any other activity deemed by the instructor to be necessary for the purpose of the course. This holds as long as the students are aware of them at the beginning of the semester by inclusion in the official class syllabus.


The University reserves the right to modify this policy at any given time. The "effective date" at the top of this policy indicates when this policy was last modified.


Questions and comments about this policy may be directed to us via email at academiccompliance@francis.edu or

Saint Francis University
Office of Academic Affairs
Attention: Director of Academic Compliance
P.O. Box 600
Loretto, PA 15940


34 CFR 668.22 (https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=pt34.3.668&rgn=div5)

22 PA Code 31.21(d)


Altering Class Schedule/Class Cancellation/Inclement Weather/Declared Virtual Class Day

Grading System

Student-Athlete Missed Class Due to Athletics Participation

Withdrawal from the University



Revisions approved by President: 03-16-2022

Committee on Student Affairs: 04-09-2019

Committee on Faculty Affairs: 05-13-2021

Committee on Standards and Admissions: 04-30-2019

Faculty Senate: 07-01-2021

President: 07-22-2021

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