Ways to Help Students Who Can't Attend Class

  • Record your lecture. If your classroom is equipped, you can create a video recording of your class using Zoom or Panopto. But for many courses an audio recording will do equally well. These can be created through your LMS (using VoiceThread or Canvas’s Rich Content Editor), or you could record the lecture through a cell phone and upload it onto the course’s LMS site.
    Note: You must inform the class that it is being recorded and share the recording only within the class. In most cases, participation cannot factor into students’ grades when classes are recorded. The class recording policy is on the UVA Policy Directory.

  • Allow students to “listen in”. Students who are in isolation, but well enough to attend the class virtually, could listen to the class via a cell phone. (Works best for lectures and small discussion classes.)

  • Engage student note-takers. You could ask for two volunteers who are willing to send you their notes, which you could then share with the absent student(s). Given the variety of note-taking styles, absent students benefit from having two sets of notes to review.

  • Shift some of your office hours to online. In most cases, offering online office hours should supplement rather than replace other strategies for allowing students to keep up with coursework.

  • Allow students to submit alternative assignments in lieu of class participation. These may include an outline of the reading, a well-considered question about a topic, a response to a question about the material, or another brief assignment.

  • Create a buddy system. Ask students to form “buddy groups” of three or four, where the group is responsible for ensuring that any member of the group who is unable to attend class will get the information they need. 

  • Be flexible with deadlines. Students who are ill, whether in isolation for Covid or suffering from another illness, may not be able to complete assignments on time.


  • Learning Design & Technology: Addressing Student Absence
    A broad range of strategies for addressing student absences (from A&S, but widely applicable).

  • Center for Teaching Excellence
    A wealth of resources on course design and delivery.

  • Learning Tech
    Guidance on selecting and using tech tools.

  • Teaching Continuity
    School-specific contacts who can help with learning technology.

  • Mental Health Resources: as part of a collection of comprehensive mental health services, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has partnered with TimelyCare, a national provider of telehealth services, to further expand student access to mental health care. Through the TimelyCare mobile app or web platform, students can access the following:

    • TalkNow, an unlimited, on-demand, 24/7 service allowing students to connect with a mental health professional within minutes, either by phone or video,  

    • 12 free counseling visits per calendar year, and

    • psychiatric care and management.