Student Absence

Accommodation for illness or other extenuating circumstances

As a pharmacy student, it can be stressful when you become ill or experience circumstances which cause you to be absent. Your first step regardless of the situation is to inform your instructor(s) and pharmacy advisors if you will be absent for a mandatory academic activity (i.e., labs, exams) or if you need to miss a deadline. Further next steps are outlined on this page specific to a variety of situations.

The Accommodations section of the Undergraduate Calendar provides an overview for accommodation, while the processes below addresses the specifics for pharmacy students.

Regardless of your reason for absence, clear and timely communication with your instructors and pharmacy advisors is essential.

Short-term self-declared absence

What is a short-term self-declared absence?

  • Absence period of 2 calendar days or less.

  • Can be declared for any reason that prevents a student from meeting their academic obligations with the exception of Laboratory (LAB) and Clinic (CLN) courses/class components.
  • You can elect to submit work for assessments in some courses. If you choose to submit an assignment or attend a midterm or quiz, the short-term absence won’t apply to those courses on the day the work is submitted.

  • Can only be declared during the Formal Lecture Period.
    • It cannot be used for final exams including those that fall outside of the university's final exam period (i.e., final exams for 6-week courses).
  • Can be declared a maximum of once per academic term.
  • Cannot be self-declared retroactively unless the 2-calendar-day window is still live.

  • No accompanying documentation is required.

How is the short-term absence period calculated?

  • If you declare your absence part-way through the first day (i.e., at 3:00 PM on day 1) your absence period would still be day 1 (start time 12:00 AM) and day 2 (end time 11:59 PM) and your return to study date would be day 3. (i.e., absent Feb 1 and 2, return Feb 3).
  • Weekends are not excluded from the absence calculation.

Procedures to declare a short-term absence:

  1. Contact your instructor(s) and pharmacy advisors within 24 hours of the missed assessment.
  2. Complete the Self-Declaration Form in Quest.
  3. You are responsible for reaching out to your instructor(s) so they can determine a plan for a possible accommodation.

If you have self-declared a short-term absence, instructors are normally expected to accommodate you during your absence. What that accommodation looks like will vary by instructor/course. See your course outline for more details.

Once submitted, it cannot be changed or cancelled in Quest without intervention from your pharmacy advisors.

COVID-19 related self-declared absence

What is a COVID-19 related self-declared absence?

  • Absence period of a maximum of 10 calendar days.
    • As soon as a student engages in any academic activity (i.e., attend classes, submit assignments/reports or write tests/exams) the absence period ends.
    • A VIF or extenuating circumstances documentation is required for absences exceeding the 10-calendar-day period.
  • Can be declared at any point during the term, including during the final exam period.
  • Cannot be self-declared retroactively unless the 10-day window is still live.
  • No accompanying documentation is required.

Procedures to declare a COVID-19 related absence

  1. If you have symptoms, you should not visit our campus and should complete the Self-Declaration Form in Quest. Please note that when filling out your self-declaration form, you can leave the "end date" blank, and fill it in later when your symptoms start improving. Instructors and pharmacy advisors automatically receive self-declarations once submitted.
  2. You are responsible for reaching out to your instructor(s) so they can determine a plan for a possible accommodation.
  3. It is strongly encouraged that students still testing positive but are able to return to campus should adhere to the University's guidelines.

What are my next steps if I am exposed?

If you have been exposed it is recommended that you wear a well-fitting mask to help protect classmates and other members of the School community. Take the Ontario Self-Assessment to determine next steps and/or contact for guidance.

Verification of Illness (VIF)


  • Submit the VIF if you are unwell and:

    • You have already submitted the short term absence self-declaration form or
    • Your period of illness is greater than 2-calendar days or
    • Your illness is not COVID-related.
  1. Contact your instructor(s) and pharmacy advisors within 24 hours of the missed assessment.
  2. Submit the Verification of Illness Form  within 48 hours of the missed assessment to The VIF is used by instructors to make accommodation decisions for missed mandatory assessments (labs, quizzes, midterms, final exams, etc.). Pharmacy academic advisors and instructors will consider VIFs issued by Campus Wellness (including Health Services and Counselling Services), hospitals, walk-in-clinics, and family doctors.

Degree of incapacitation

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 information included in the VIF (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 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 students are unable to attend class and engage in most 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”; a Policy 71 academic offence.

Instructors have the authority to determine whether a VIF indicating "moderate" incapacitation will be accommodated. Students should review their course outline to see if any guidance is provided. In the absence of stated course rules, students should consider the following:

  • Tests and exams are not to be written during the incapacitation period of a "moderate" VIF
  • Misconduct/misrepresentation will not normally be alleged if a student inconsistently participates in other course elements such as assignments, quizzes, labs, and lecture attendance/participation during the VIF "moderate" incapacitation period.

Other Considerations

Accommodation options

It is at the instructor’s discretion as to whether and how to accommodate missed mandatory components. This may include such options as extending a deadline for submission of an assignment, modifying the grading scheme for that student for the course, establishing a make-up activity, or assigning a grade in the absence of the component. If a student has a test/examination deferred, they normally will write the test/examination within one year of the official grade date for that course and at a mutually convenient time, to be determined by the course instructor.

In the case of a make-up exam, the exam may be the same as the original exam, may be a different exam, may be of a different format (i.e., an oral test), or may be of a different mix of questions (i.e., the percentage of specific topics on the new exam may differ from the original). In any case, the final decision of which exam format and date that it will be administered will rest with the instructor. Instructors will make their accommodation decision once documentation has been submitted.

Absence period greater than two weeks

Students who have been absent from classes for two weeks or longer, whether by illness or extenuating circumstances, should follow-up with their individual instructors and their academic advisor to assess whether their schedule of lectures or labs is still viable. For example, some students cannot complete a lab course, no matter the circumstances, if multiple labs have been missed.

Multiple VIFs

Multiple VIFs submitted in a term could result in a meeting with a pharmacy advisor to discuss and resolve barriers to academic success.

Alternate documentation

In rare situations, students may present a letter from an appropriate medical professional in place of a VIF provided that the following information is included: 

  • date of medical assessment
  • dates of illness
  • degree of incapacitation
  • whether the diagnosis was made by a medical professional or based on a description by student
  • medical professional’s information (including physician CPSO registration number, if applicable)

Authentification of documentation

Authentication of documentation is part of this process. If evidence of misrepresentation or fraudulent or falsified documentation is found, it will be reported per Policy 71 (Student Discipline) for further investigation.

If any information is missing, accommodation decisions will usually be delayed because the student will need to have their health care provider complete the missing information.

Extenuating circumstances

  1. Contact for guidance specific to your situation.
  2. Gather supporting documentation. The supporting documentation will be considered in a similar manner to a VIF. Official documentation is necessary before any action can be taken. Examples are: court documents, police reports, death certificates/obituaries/letters from funeral directors, counsellor letters.
  3. Contact your instructor(s) notifying them of the situation.
  4. Submit documentation to
  5. Come to an agreement with your instructor regarding how any missed mandatory class, lab, assignment, test or exam will be addressed. Students who have been absent from classes for two weeks or longer, whether by illness or extenuating circumstances (e.g., the death of a family member), should follow-up with their individual instructors and pharmacy advisors to assess whether their schedule of lectures or labs is still viable. For example, some students cannot complete a lab course, no matter the circumstances, if multiple labs have been missed. 

Other circumstances

Ongoing medical appointments

  • Speak directly to your instructor and your pharmacy advisors. Arrangements, if any, will be made at the instructor's discretion.
  • It is highly recommended that students in this situation register with AccessAbility Services. Becky Ewan is the AccessAbility Services lead pharmacy advisor and questions or concerns may be directed to her via email or by booking an appointment.

Religious observances

  • As the dates of important religious observances are generally known well in advance, students must consult with their instructor(s) and pharmacy advisors within two weeks of the announcement of the due date for which accommodation is being sought.
  • The Undergraduate Calendar provides further information.

Travel and family events (weddings, etc.)

  • The University's policy is outlined on the Accommodations page of the Undergraduate Calendar:
    • "Elective arrangements (such as travel plans) are not considered acceptable grounds for granting an accommodation."
  • Students should reference the Important Dates calendar and work with their pharmacy advisors to plan ahead as much as possible.