Date: October 6, 2021
To: NYU Faculty
From: Provost Katherine Fleming and Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Exec. Lead, COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team

One of the most effective measures we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (or other contagious illnesses) is to encourage NYU community members to stay home if they feel unwell. We have conveyed this message regularly to students, administrators, staff, and faculty.

However, this approach will only succeed with students if they feel that they will not be disadvantaged academically. We need the help and cooperation of the faculty. Even as the University urges students to stay home when unwell, we receive reports of faculty practices or course policies that make it difficult for students to follow this guidance.

We respect faculty members’ wide discretion in setting classroom standards, as well as their expectations for rigor, attendance, and classroom participation. We understand, too, that making it possible for students who are absent from class to keep up with the work without detriment may impose some additional burdens.

Nonetheless, given the pandemic, we don’t want sick students to attend class. We appeal to faculty to show additional flexibility for the time being regarding illness-related student absences. Specifically:

  • Take students’ self-report of feeling ill at face value unless there is reason to proceed otherwise.
  • Forego requiring a doctor’s note — unless directed to come in by the Student Health Center, we don’t want students who are feeling sick entering University buildings simply to get a note. Only in those cases when a student’s absence seems unduly long or recurring should faculty request medical notes.
  • Don’t penalize students for being absent due to illness — make it as easy as possible for students to keep up with the class and any assignments.
  • The Provost’s Office has a number of recommended approaches you can employ with students who are temporarily remote. The simplest may be recording your lectures or turning on your zoom camera.

Keeping sick students at home enhances everyone’s safety. We appreciate your cooperation.