Emergency Notifications Process
When students are absent due to a crisis situation or unexpected illness and unable to contact their individual instructors directly, the Dean of Students Office can send out an Emergency Notification.
**If a student is experiencing a temporary health condition (broken bone, injury, ongoing medical situation) that is impacting their coursework, they should refer to Student Accessibility Services for information on having this communicated to their faculty and potential accommodations.***
What is an Emergency Notification?
- An e-mail notification from the Dean of Students Office to a student's faculty members and academic advisers. A copy of this message is sent to the student, as well.
- An announcement that an emergency situation (their own hospitalization, accident, death in the family, etc.) prevents students from contacting instructors directly and may also prevent them from fulfilling their academic responsibilities.
- A source of information so faculty can anticipate the absence and, sometimes, can know when to expect the student to return to class.
- A written reminder that students should work directly with instructors to determine how to complete any missed course work during the absence.
Each instructor has the authority to make decisions about students' absences and how the absence will affect students' grades. The Dean of Students staff encourage faculty to keep in mind that students who utilize the emergency notification service are typically recovering from a crisis and would benefit from appropriate consideration. If a student doesn't feel faculty are being fair, Student Assistance staff can assist the student by discussing the academic grievance process as an option.
How to initiate an Emergency Notification
Contact the Dean of Students by phone at 515-294-1020 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Be prepared to provide a detailed description of the emergency circumstances, as well as a reasonable explanation as to why the student is unable to contact their instructors directly. If the student is able to make the contact, the Dean of Students Office will ask the student to do so rather than sending out an Emergency Notification. If possible, please include the estimated length of time the student will be absent from classes.
When the student returns to the University
- The staff in Student Assistance typically contacts students after the emergency notification process to offer support and assistance as students resume their academic responsibilities. Knowing each student's situation helps us provide the immediate help needed and to be better prepared when the student is able to return to class.
- Instructors may also contact the student directly to discuss the student's responsibility for completing missed course work, as well as any documentation required when the student returns.
- Because the staff in the Dean of Students Office does not investigate prior to sending out an Emergency Notification, students should be prepared to provide documentation verifying the reasons for their absence when requested by instructors.
Emergency Notification Guidelines
- An Emergency Notification is NOT appropriate for non-emergency situations (e.g. car problems, planned absences, minor illnesses, or a past absence).
- An Emergency Notification is NOT a request or mandate to excuse an absence. (This decision is the sole responsibility of the instructor to determine.)
- An Emergency Notification is NOT a requirement for students. If a student contacts instructors about an emergency situation directly, it is not necessary to involve the Dean of Students Office as you arrange to resolve the absence. Instructors are always welcome to share information with the Dean of Students staff about any student concern.
- An Emergency Notification is NOT verification that the information the student has provided is true. (Documentation should be provided by the student upon request.)
- Students and Faculty are encouraged to review Thielen Student Health Center's class excuse policy to understand when they would and would not be able to provide documentation.
- Faculty should understand, when a student is grieving the loss of a loved one, the student may not be able to provide documentation. Grieving is a personal process and students should, when they are able, follow up with faculty to begin resolving their time away from classes.
What is a Dean of Students Notification?
Occasionally staff in Student Assistance will send a Dean of Students Notification to faculty as they work with students navigating a situation that is extremely sensitive and the student may not be able to produce documentation. Similar to Emergency Notifications, these are in place to facilitate communication between the student and faculty. Faculty should call Student Assistance staff at 515-294-1020 if they have any questions about these notifications or need additional information as they assist the student.
Please note: the Dean of Students Office staff does not investigate when students request an Emergency Notification. We do ask for enough details from students to assess the situation and offer advice about what should be done to make their transition back to class easier. However, we do not contact hospitals, doctors, police, family members, etc. to assess the validity of an absence prior to sending out an Emergency Notification. We inform students that it is their responsibility to have appropriate documentation available when their instructors request it.