This is a content holder for the one button emergency notification system.

Fall 2021 Classroom: Understanding Exemptions, Accommodations, and Flexibility

Key terms to understand

  • Exemptions: COVID-19 vaccination exemptions on medical or religious grounds are approved through the Wellness Center. An exemption does not alter the student’s campus or classroom experience in any other way.
  • Accommodations: Based primarily on legal requirements outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, all student-requests for reasonable accommodation must be processed through Student Accessibility Services (SAS). If granted, accommodations are communicated to faculty by a formal Letter of Accommodation. There are no exceptions to this process.
  • Flexibility: To promote the physical and mental wellbeing of our community members, you may wish to offer additional flexibility to students within your classroom. This may include revising attendance policies, assignment due dates, or taking other student-centered acts.

An exemption from vaccination does not indicate the existence of any approved reasonable accommodations through Student Accessibility Services or requirements for additional flexibility within the classroom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a student with a vaccine exemption attend class in-person?

Yes. The purpose of the exemption is to provide those that cannot complete COVID-19 vaccination (for medical or religious reasons) with full access to campus. If a student self-identifies as having an exemption and asks to attend an in-person class remotely, this request for flexibility can be denied by the faculty and redirected to SAS as needed. Please note that an approved exemption from vaccination is not a guarantee of accommodation eligibility.

Will I be required to shift my class to hy-flex?

Possibly, but it is unlikely. Based on CDC Guidance, a student may be found eligible for “remote attendance” as an accommodation. However, that is a last-resort accommodation. SAS has been working with students since April to mitigate barriers to on-campus attendance through other means, such as early registration to ensure access to online course options. In rare cases where remote attendance of an in-person course may be the most reasonable accommodation, SAS will work closely with the faculty member and the appropriate associate dean to ensure that all fundamental requirements of the course can be effectively delivered online. Additionally, extra support will be provided to these faculty by SAS, TTC, OTL, and others to promote a successful classroom experience for both faculty and students.

Should I accommodate a student without official SAS paperwork on my own?

No. This is prohibited. If a student is requesting an accommodation because they are being impacted by their diagnosis (medical, physical, psychological, etc.), these requests must go through SAS. Please refer the student to contact SAS as soon as possible at sas@bridgew.edu or 508-531-2194.

If a student is requesting flexibility based on a preference (e.g., preference to attend remotely because they live with an at-risk family member), this may be granted or denied at your discretion. Should you grant this flexibility, it is important that you make clear to the student that you are granting flexibility; they are not receiving an accommodation.

What should faculty do if a student discloses a COVID-19 diagnosis?

Advise the student to provide confirmation of their diagnosis to Eileen Estudante, Director of Student Outreach and Special Programs (lestudante@bridgew.edu). Eileen will contact faculty to discuss and encourage flexibility. If the student is severely impacted, they should also be referred to SAS by the faculty member to explore possible accommodations.

How will I know if a student is receiving accommodations through SAS?

All SAS approved accommodations, including that of remote attendance, will be communicated via a formal Letter of Accommodation. There are no exceptions. SAS provides the letter to the student. The student is then responsible for delivering the letter to faculty member. A Letter of Accommodation does not reveal the reason for the accommodation and faculty may not ask why the accommodation is being given.

Will I know if a student in my classroom received a vaccine exemption?

No. A student’s vaccination exemption status is not communicated and should not be requested.

May I require that a student wear a mask during office hours or during meetings outside of the classroom?

Effective August 23, BSU will be mandating that all members of our campus community (including vaccinated students, employees, and visitors) wear a mask in indoor public places, including faculty offices.

For more information, please contact these campus resources:

BSU COVID-19 inquiries: covid-19@bridgew.edu

Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL): otl@bridgew.edu, 508-531-2694.

Student Accessibility Services (SAS): sas@bridgew.edu, 508-531-2194.

Wellness Center: wellnesscenter@bridgew.edu, 508-531-1252.