Short-Term, Temporary Absence Policy

Purpose/Rationale: The purpose of the Short-Term, Temporary Absence Policy is to permit students to continue progress in a course of study if unable to attend and participate in proximate instruction and learning while seeking treatment and/or recovering from a medical or mental health event, a family emergency/crisis, or other extraordinary circumstance. The short-term nature of this Policy not only facilitates student access to their education, but also minimizes the impact and disruption to the educational process, and preserves the integrity of the delivery of academic course(s).

Policy: This Policy defines and guides an institutional position regarding how long a student may be absent from classes and instruction before a course(s) may not be recoverable. The Short-Term, Temporary Absence Policy provides an intermediate option between current policies and processes and Muhlenberg College Medical Leave of Absence Policy (MLOA) and the Muhlenberg College Leave of Absence (LOA) Policy. This Policy applies to undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education courses in which the course length is presented in traditional semester format. This Policy does not apply to courses that are delivered in a compressed or accelerated design, including summer courses.

Duration of Short-Term Absence: This Policy provides for short-term absences of an anticipated duration of one to two weeks or less during the traditional 16 week Fall and/or Spring semester. Situational exceptions to allow for one additional week of absence may be considered by the Committee. For absences of longer than two weeks in duration, the Committee will consult with the student and faculty members to determine options which may include course(s) withdrawal, a Personal Leave of Absence, a Medical Leave of Absence, or approval for a maximum of a one week extension. The Short-Term, Temporary Absence is consecutive weeks in duration. Any exceptions to this will be considered by the committee only in extraordinary circumstances. The student may not take more than one Short-Term, Temporary Absence per semester.


  1. Identification of Need: The student identifies the need for a short-term, temporary absence. In cases in which a student is not available, a parent or guardian serving as proxy may be considered.
  2. Request Form: The student is encouraged to complete the Short-Term, Temporary Absence Request Form as soon as possible after the precipitating circumstance has occurred. The student submits the Request Form with the supporting documentation (defined below)
    1. *The student should be aware that any lag in the submission of the Request Form and documentation may result in delay of approval.
    2. *The student should be aware that the start of the Short-Term Temporary Absence is retroactive to the date of first occurrence of absence from classes.
  3. Documentation Guidelines
    • Types of Documentation -
      • Medical and Mental Health : Documentation from treating licensed health care provider
      • Family emergency/crisis: Personal statement from student
      • Other qualifying circumstances: Documentation as appropriate
    • If supporting documentation is not immediately available, the Committee may proceed based on the body of evidence and interview with student and/or parent or guardian proxy, as appropriate, while awaiting documentation.
  4. Meeting: The student meets with designated college administrator(s) to review the circumstance and documentation.
  5. Committee Review: The Request Form, including required documentation or personal statement will be reviewed by STTA Committee to make determination about preliminary approval pending individual faculty determination of viability of the request for their individual courses.
    • Initial time period: 1-2 weeks
    • Situational exceptions to allow for one additional week of absence may be considered.
    • For medical, mental health, or family emergency/crisis that necessitates an absence of longer than three weeks in duration, the Committee will consult with the student and faculty members to determine options, which may include a course(s) withdrawal, a Personal Leave of Absence, or a Medical Leave of Absence.
  6. Faculty Notification and Faculty Determination: Individual faculty for each course will determine if the short-term absence would constitute a fundamental alteration of the course requirements and/or manner of delivery or undue administrative burden, thus rendering it an unreasonable request for that individual class.

    Faculty will communicate with the STTA Committee if the absence will impact the academic integrity of the course or if the faculty is willing to allow a short-term absence. The faculty member will choose the appropriate alteration to course assignments and how to deliver the material that best fits their course-learning outcomes and teaching style.
    • Faculty/departments may choose to use the rubric below in making determinations about the reasonableness of a request for temporary absence given the pedagogical design of the courses.
    • The student is informed that even with approval, there may be limitations as qualified in the Short-Term Absence.
    • The student is informed that, depending on the mode of instruction and pedagogy, the faculty member may determine that a Short-Term Temporary Absence is not possible for that course and may recommend a course withdrawal.

Short-Term Absence considerations:

  1. The number of allowable absences is dependent on the essential elements and participatory nature of the course (i.e., class participation, group projects, presentations, in-class performances) as established in each faculty member's syllabus.
  2. If the amount of absences exceeds the allowable range of absences under the STTA, the student understands there may be an impact to the course grade.
  3. The Committee will contact the faculty member as soon as possible when a short-term, temporary absence will or has occurred and, as necessary, inform the faculty member as to the anticipated date the student will return to class.
  4. This Short-Term Temporary Absence potentially provides relief from requirements for physical attendance in classes. The student is responsible for any material covered or work done during such a short-term, temporary absence.

Student Responsibilities:

  1. Timely initiation of the request process including completion of the Short-Term, Temporary Absence Request Form and submission of relevant documentation.
  2. Maintain ongoing communication with designated STTA Committee member about their personal situation causing the short-term absence including plan for return.
  3. Maintain ongoing communication with faculty about progress with coursework when situationally possible.

Note: In order to achieve the most successful outcomes throughout the Short-Term, Temporary Absence, the student is encouraged to follow all the components of this process in a timely manner.

Faculty Responsibilities:

  1. Encourage ongoing communication with the student about student expectations during the short-term absence regarding:
    1. current course assignments
    2. changes or modifications in course assignments
    3. student participation
    4. academic progress and completion of assignments during the absence and in the transition period after return
  2. Communicate with designated STTA committee member any concerns about the student’s progress.

Note: In extraordinary circumstances, the Committee may waive certain components of this process.

Revised 09/01/2022