August 28, 2017
Dear faculty colleagues,
As President Fenves’ message mentioned, nearly one-third of our students are from the areas affected by Harvey.
Many of these students are already in Austin and safe but are worrying about their loved ones and friends back home. There are many students, however, who will not be in Austin when classes begin Wednesday. Many are unable to leave their homes and among their concerns are falling behind in their classes. Other students are stuck out-of-state with cancelled flights. Some with veteran or military status have been activated to directly support the recovery and rescue efforts.
We have asked the students who are able to submit a Class Absence Notification Request. Over 800 have already done so. My office will be sharing this information with faculty in the coming days.
Some impacted students may not have cellular or internet access right now, and they will be unable to provide advance notice to professors or the university through the Class Absence Notification. I highly encourage you to demonstrate compassion by being flexible and accommodating your students affected by Harvey.
Academic Accommodations to Consider
Instructors have wide discretion to accommodate their students in extenuating circumstances, such as natural disasters. Accommodations you can consider to help your students might include:
- Assign a note taker to share information with students who aren’t able to attend.
- Create an audio recording of your class. This can be easily done on a smart phone.
- Be flexible in your attendance policy through next week.
- Be flexible in your reading and class assignment deadlines through next week.
As the extent of the damage unfolds in the coming weeks and months, some students will likely need to return home to help their families clear flooded homes or move into shelters. The damage will be extensive and the recovery will take time, so please consider making accommodations as appropriate throughout the semester.
If you have questions contact your academic dean for more information and guidance.
I want you to feel empowered to help your students in need. Thank you in advance for your continued support of our students.
Executive Vice President and Provost
The University of Texas at Austin