Guidance on Spring 2021 Class Attendance, Withdrawal and Grading

In recognition of unique circumstances for faculty members and students alike during the spring 2021 semester, the following guidance is provided regarding class attendance and withdrawal for undergraduate students along with graduate students in Graduate School and Graduate School of Management programs.  Faculty and students in Law School, School of Dentistry and Health Sciences Professional programs will follow policies and guidance provided by those schools.


Class Attendance Guidance

Class Withdrawal Policies

Faculty Grading Guidance


Class Attendance Guidance

The current attendance policies in the undergraduate bulletin and graduate bulletin do not recognize illness as an excused absence.  At the same time, Marquette University is requiring students not to attend class if symptomatic and requiring that students who test positive for COVID-19 or have confirmed exposure to following city quarantine guidelines. 

Instead of expanding the categories of excused absence to include illness, which would impose excessive burdens on quarantining students to obtain documentation and add pressure on the health care system, the university is providing the following guidance to create a flexible and compassionate response to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.


1.  Instructors are expected to make reasonable accommodations for students who miss classes due to COVID-19 exposure to make up classwork and/or get notes from a lecture.  Labs, clinicals and other field-based classes are the exceptions to this because it may be impossible to make up classwork in these types of classes.

  • Students are responsible for contacting instructors prior to the missed class session to indicate absence and the need to make up classwork/assignments.
  • If a student is forced to be absent for an extended period of time (generally more than two weeks) and is unable to complete assignments, instructors should explore all reasonable alternatives to engagement before discussing withdrawal from the course or a grade of incomplete.

2.  No portion of a grade should be based strictly on attendance.  Instead, assignments should be based on participation and engagement, and faculty should design assessments that would allow ill/quarantined students to demonstrate participation/engagement regardless of modality.

  • Some clinical, laboratory, and other field-based classes have contact-hour requirements that must be fulfilled.  It may be impossible to make up missed class sessions per accreditation or other external guidelines.

3.  Syllabi should indicate expectations for students who may be absent due to symptoms, COVID-19 diagnosis, and/or quarantine.  The Center for Teaching and Learning has developed COVID-19 language for syllabi.  Based on the circumstances of students, the following guidance is provided:

  • Confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and in isolation:  student must not attend class, but is expected to participate in all assignments to the extent possible based on severity of symptoms.  Students are expected to inform instructor of quarantine or isolation dates and to communicate regularly about their ability to participate during that time.  Medical documentation is NOT required for return to the classroom but may be required for return to some clinical sites.  Students are to contact Office of Disability Services in the event they are not able to participate in coursework due to COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 to explore if a reasonable accommodation can be afforded.
  • Symptomatic in isolation and needs testing or awaiting results:  student must not attend class, but is expected to participate in all assignments to the extent possible based on severity of symptoms and seek out COVID-19 test through the Marquette University Medical Clinic.  Same guidance as above for documentation and accommodation.  
  • Confirmed COVID-19 exposure and in quarantine:  Student must not attend class but is expected to participate in all assignments.  Should symptoms develop students should seek out COVID-19 testing through the Marquette University Medical Clinic,  Same guidance as above for documentation and accommodations.
  • For all isolation or quarantine:  Student is expected to contact the instructor to indicate student's inability to participate in face-to-face experiences.


Medical Excuses

Consistent with the current attendance policy and medical excuse policy, the Marquette University Medical Clinic does not provide medical excuses for short-term absences that result in missed classes, exams, or assignments due to illness or injury.  Requiring medical excuses places an additional burden on healthcare systems and diverts resources from patient care.  Quarantine/isolation does not require formal certification by healthcare provider.

Quarantine vs. Isolation

“Exposed and in quarantine” vs “diagnosed and in isolation,” is distinct based on a few things. Those in quarantine will be out of class for a finite 14 days (unless they become symptomatic). Also, those in quarantine can leave their residence for essentials such as picking up food or medicine, etc., while those in isolation cannot leave their residence during isolation. Also, time in isolation is variable, the least amount of time is 10 days but could be longer such as 2-4 weeks as it is based on when their symptoms resolve. The other difference is those in quarantine are not ill and can perform all work assignments remotely, while those that are sick may not be able to keep up depending on their level of sickness


Class Withdrawal Policies

In acknowledgement that circumstances may arise during the Spring 2021 semester that require a student to withdraw from a class at various points during the term, the following flexibility on the use of withdrawal grades for undergraduate and graduate students has been approved:

  • Students who initiate a request to withdraw from a class after the withdrawal deadline but prior to the last day of final exams may receive a grade of W, as opposed to WF, with approval of their college dean's office if the reason for withdrawal is due to needs related to COVID-19.
  • When an instructor or college office initiates a student withdrawal after the withdrawal deadline for reasons of excessive absence, a grade of WA may be used, rather than a WF, regardless of student performance at the time of withdrawal.

The updated polices on grading of class withdrawals can be found in the undergraduate bulletin and graduate bulletin.


Faculty Grading Guidance 

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A-F Grades

  • Definition:  Letter grades are used by Marquette faculty to evaluate students' performance in a course.  Each grade (A through F) earned in a course carries a specified number of grade points.
  • Usage:  Faculty determination based on academic performance at the end of the class (or Incomplete period).
  • Spring 2021 Reminders:  The grading deadline for regular session classes is 5/18/2021.  At present, there is no option for students to change their grade to pass/not pass in Spring 2021.

Incomplete Grade

  • Definition:  An Incomplete must be initiated by students and approved by the instructor prior to the end of the session in which the class is offered.  Assigned only when a documented circumstance beyond the control of the student arises. The performance in the course must merit this exception, otherwise, the instructor must assign a grade that reflects both the quality of the work completed and the significance of the work/exam that is completed.
  • Usage:  Based on student's request and agreement to complete all missing work no later than the Incomplete deadline stipulated in the academic calendar and faculty determination that additional time beyond the end of the semester will allow for the successful completion of the class material and awarding of A-F grade.  When possible, the requirements to fulfill the Incomplete should be designed so that students can do so prior to the start of the spring term classes.
  • Spring 2021 Reminders:  The final deadline for students to complete all class material in Spring 2021 is 10/8/2021, although faculty may require an earlier deadline, such as the start of fall term classes.

Withdrawal Grades (WA or WF)

  • Definition:  Withdrawal initiated by the faculty or college office due to students' excessive absences in the course, as outlined in the syllabus or the university Attendance Policy in the bulletin.  Withdrawal that leads to a WA grade is equivalent to the W grade in that it is not counted toward the student’s GPA.  Withdrawal that leads to a WF grade is counted toward the student’s GPA in an equivalent manner to the F grade. 
  • Usage:  Based on faculty or college office determination that the student has missed too much of the class to be successful, consistent with the attendance policy, or the student has abandoned the class.  Prior to withdrawal deadline the WA grade is always assigned.  After the withdrawal deadline either the WA grade or the WF grade may be assigned, depending on the student’s performance in the class at the time of withdrawal. 
  • Spring 2021 Reminders:  The withdrawal deadline for full-term classes in Spring 2021 is 4/23/2021.  Given the expected nature of the Spring 2021 semester, consideration should be given to student participation and engagement when determining if withdrawal is appropriate.  Flexibility is being allowed in Spring 2021 for faculty and/or colleges to assign a grade of WA after the withdrawal deadline regardless of student academic performance in the class at the time of withdrawal.