Flexibility for students observing religious holidays or delayed in arrival to campus

Dear Twin Cities faculty and instructors,

I am writing to highlight your responsibility to provide accommodations for students observing religious holidays this upcoming semester, as well as ask for flexibility for international students who may encounter difficulty arriving by the first day of class.

Religious Observances

The Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences policy provides useful information about accommodations due to religious observances, and information on related policies is listed on the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action website, including an overview of holidays and religious observances throughout the year.

Not all students will request accommodations for religious observances. However, please encourage students to contact you individually if accommodations are needed.

Please note in particular that the first two days of the fall 2021 semester fall on Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest holidays of the Jewish calendar. Although accommodations for this holiday are explicitly available through the Mandatory Attendance at First Class Session and Consequences for Absence policy, we acknowledge that the first day of the semester is important to students, especially incoming freshmen or new transfer students. We are therefore providing students with additional accommodations and ask that you make your first-day-of-class lectures and course materials available to students asynchronously (for example, by recording), so students can complete their work after the conclusion of the holiday. In addition, new students may not know how to successfully navigate procedures for notifying you of their absence. We ask for your flexibility with regard to enforcement of the policy provision requiring advance notification. Students who are absent due to Rosh Hashanah should not lose their seat in class.

As a reminder, faculty and staff are also provided accommodations for religious holidays. You may structure your teaching plans or work schedule to allow for your own religious observances, and I encourage you to talk with your unit head if you have questions or need help with these arrangements.

International students

International students are encountering a variety of challenges as they prepare to travel to the University of Minnesota, including visa delays, limited availability of flights for international travel, and the wish to quarantine after arriving. As a result, some international students may not arrive in time to attend the first day of classes this fall. This could include both new/transfer students and continuing students who previously studied in their home country.

ISSS will ensure students have the appropriate documentation for entering the U.S. Students who will arrive late must contact you to get permission to miss the first day of class (and possibly longer). We ask that you be as flexible as you can in supporting students who will arrive late.

Thank you for your work to create an inclusive learning environment for our students. Specific questions about how to provide accommodations for religious observances can be directed to 612-624-9547 or [email protected]. For questions about supporting international students, please contact International Student and Scholar Services at [email protected].

Sincerely yours,

Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

email sent to all Twin Cities instructors scheduled to teach fall 2021 semester and all Twin Cities faculty regardless of teaching assignment on August 16, 2021