Accommodation for illness or extenuating circumstances

Acoomadations header

As a student, you may encounter situations such as significant illnesses, ongoing medical conditions, or other circumstances that prevent you from meeting academic obligations.

The Accommodations section of the Undergraduate Calendar will provide an overview for accommodation, while the process below addresses the specifics for students enrolled in the Faculty of Mathematics.

I am sick and cannot complete a course component (midterm, assignment, test, quiz etc). What do I do?

  • Contact the course instructor (e.g. by email) before or within 48 hours of a test, exam or due date. 

  • If you're unable to complete a course component due to symptoms of COVID-19 or other flu-like symptoms, please submit the "Public Health Event" self-declaration form in Quest.

  • If your incapacitation will last 48 hours or less, submit the "Short-term absence" self-declaration form in Quest. It is your reponsibility to contact instructors for courses where you will be seeking accommodations. 

  • If your incapacitation is due to other reasons then you must submit your Verification of Illness Form (VIF) electronically through the Submission Form before or within 48 hours of a test, exam or due date. Please have an electronic copy of your VIF ready to upload (take a picture or scan the VIF making sure all sections are readable). If you have questions, contact the MUO.

    • If you submit documentation indicating that you are severely incapacitated, it will be understood to mean that you are unable to complete or participate in any coursework for the duration indicated. If you do choose to complete an assessment during the period of incapacitation, it will be interpreted as a declaration of your fitness to return to studies.

    • The submission form should only be completed by students enrolled in the Faculty of Mathematics, including Computing and Financial Management (CFM) students. Software Engineering (SE) students should continue to submit their VIFs to the SE office. Science students should forward their VIF to the Science Undergraduate Office. All other students (Arts, Environment, Health) should forward their VIF to their instructor.

  • False claims constitute an academic offence that will result in the disciplinary action under Policy 71 (Student Discipline).

  • You should retain the original VIF for four months.

  • Decisions related to accommodations due to the submission of the self-declarations or VIF is at the discretion of the instructor.

  • You should be aware that when a VIF is registered in the MUO, all of your Math (i.e. ACTSC, AMATH, CO, COMM, CS, MATH, MATBUS, MTHEL, PMATH, STAT) and Science (i.e. BIOL, CHEM, EARTH, MNS, PHYS, SCI, and SCBUS) instructors will be notified.

More details below:


Last updated 21 September, 2021.

Verification of Illness Form

The Verification of Illness Form (PDF) is used by instructors to make accommodation decisions for missed mandatory assessments (assignments, quizzes, midterms, final exams, etc.). It is expected that students will obtain VIFs issued by the University of Waterloo's Campus Wellness Services (Health Services and Counselling Services), when this service is open.

Your instructor(s) will be responsible for determining which accommodations (if any) are to be made.

Multiple VIFs submitted for a term could result in a meeting with one of the MUO's academic advisors to discuss and resolve barriers to academic success.

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Degree of incapacitation (severe or moderate)

The VIF indicates the determination by a care provider (normally a physician) of the degree of incapacitation for a given period of time. Instructors will determine what accommodation if any, they will provide. When making these decisions, instructors may consider VIF information (i.e., date; incapacitation severity and period) or the circumstances; and the student's actions (i.e., when the student notified the instructor and submitted the VIF/other supporting documents to the Math Undergraduate Office). The course outline should provide guidance regarding how missed course elements are normally addressed.

Students must discuss the VIF-specified degree of incapacitation with their instructors so that their actions are not misinterpreted or viewed with suspicion. For example:

A 'severe' incapacitation indicates that the student is unable to engage in any academic studies during the period indicated. If they attend classes/labs, submit assignments/reports or write tests/exams during this period, they are at risk of being accused of misrepresentation.  This is a serious academic offence; the standard penalty includes suspension.

A 'moderate' incapacitation indicates merely that the student may not be able to perform at their best during the period indicated.  Inconsistent participation (completing some assignments or tests, but not others) is not likely to result in any allegation of misconduct.  However, they should not assume that any accommodation will be granted.  The decision as to whether or not to grant accommodation based on a VIF is the instructor’s to make, and it is not unusual for "moderate" incapacitation not to be accommodated. In general, students should be reporting for any scheduled tests, unless (i) they are physically incapable of doing so, or (ii) they have already been granted accommodation by the instructor. 

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Other extenuating circumstances

I have extenuating circumstances other than illness. What do I do?

  1. Contact your instructor and make them aware of the situation.
  2. Speak with your academic advisor as they will be able to provide guidance about your next steps. 

For prolonged absences from classes, for example, two weeks or longer, you should follow up with your academic advisor and each instructor to assess whether your schedule of classes is still viable and whether any other assistance is needed.  For example, some students cannot complete a course, no matter the circumstances, if multiple classes have been missed. 

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Incomplete (INC) grade process

The Incomplete (INC) grade process begins when students contact their course instructors to discuss an INC grade as a possibility. This discussion with the instructor addresses the student’s circumstances, supporting documentation, missed or unfinished course elements, and the student’s engagement in the course up to that point in the term. The final decision about whether to grant an INC rests with the instructor.

Students must NOT enrol in the course again in Quest. If they require access to the term's materials then students should contact the instructor of the course for the term when they will be clearing the INC.

Failure to write scheduled make-up tests or submit outstanding course work by the end of the instructor-specified lapse period will result in a final course grade being posted to Quest that is the earned grade, based on all completed course element(s). If the course outline specifies that the missing coursework is required to pass the course, the lesser of the earned grade or 4% less than the passing grade will be posted to Quest.

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