In fall 2022, the University expanded the options for a self-declared absence for undergraduate students by introducing the option of self-declaring a short-term absence.
- It is an absence that is a maximum length of two calendar days (i.e., Tuesday, February 8 and Wednesday, February 9).
- The declaration of a short-term absence is available to all undergraduate students taking courses at the University of Waterloo.
- Only one short-term absence can be self-declared per academic term.
Self-declaring a short-term absence
Short-term absences are self-declared in Quest. No accompanying documentation is requested or required in order to self-declare a short-term absence. See How do I self-declare an absence for instructions.
Once submitted, it cannot be changed or cancelled in Quest without the intervention of your faculty's associate dean, undergraduate.
Frequently Asked Questions
I've self-declared a short-term absence, what happens next?
- All of your instructors will be notified by email of your absence, as indicated in Quest.
- You are excused from all assessments due during the absence window.
- The course/class components of Laboratory (LAB) and Clinic (CLN) do not qualify for accommodation as a result of a self-declared short-term absence.
- You are required to reach out to your instructors within the first 24 hours after submitting your self-declaration to discuss possible accommodations for missed due dates.
Who will be notified after I have self-declared a short-term absence?
You will receive an email confirming your self-declaration. Your instructors will also be notified by email. Your instructors will be able to view the information, at any time, in Quest.
In addition, academic advisors will have access to view the dates (current and past) you have self-declared as being absent.
Can the short-term self-declared absence be used for any type of course/class component?
No. This absence option cannot be used for the following course/class components:
- Laboratory (LAB)
- Clinic (CLN)
Can the short-term self-declared absence be used for midterms?
Yes. This absence option is available for any type of assessment that occurs during the Formal Lecture Period.
Can the short-term self-declared absence be used for PD courses during a work term?
Yes. This absence option is available for all academic courses, including PD courses. However, there is no impact on any work/job requirements.
Is an instructor required to accommodate me?
If you have self-declared a short-term absence, instructors are normally expected to accommodate you according to what is published in the course outline during your absence. What that accommodation looks like will vary by instructor/course. Some may already have outlined in their course syllabus what is to occur if an assessment is missed.
Is there a time frame in which I can't use the short-term absence option?
Yes. The self-declared short-term absence option in Quest is only available during the Formal Lecture Period.
It's the Final Examination Period and the short-term absence form isn't available in Quest, what do I do?
The short-term absence option can only be used during the Formal Lecture Period; it is not available during the Final Examination Period. If you are ill, obtain a Verification of Illness Form (VIF) and contact your instructor.
What happens if I have already declared a short-term absence this term?
You might be eligible for accommodations, depending on the type and length of absence.
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19, and need to self-isolate (up to 10 days), self-declare your absence in Quest (see How do I self-declare an absence).
- Follow the Verification of Illness process for illness-related absences that:
- Do not meet the short-term absence criteria
- Are in excess of the maximum number of permissible short-term absences in a given term
- Are for retroactive reports of absence
- Are for accommodation for an assessment outside the Formal Lecture Period (i.e., during the Final Examination Period)
- Are non-COVID-related conditions
- For absences as a result of a verified disability, contact AccessAbility Services.
- For non-illness-related absences, check with your instructor(s) for accommodation options.
How is the two-day absence period calculated?
In Quest, you indicate your first day absent as well as the day you return to studies. For example:
- If you declare a Monday as your first day absent, the Tuesday would be the second day absent and you would be expected to return to your studies on Wednesday (two full days absent; Monday and Tuesday).
What do I do if I need to be absent for longer than two (2) days?
The short-term absence option only excuses you from all assessments due during the two-day period you have indicated in Quest. For absences longer than two (2) days, other options exist:
- If accommodations are needed, contact AccessAbility Services.
- For illnesses lasting more than two (2) days, complete the Verification of Illness Form and submit it according to your faculty's processes.
Something happened a few days ago, can I still self-declare a short-term absence?
No. Retro-active self-declarations in Quest are not possible unless the two-day window is still live. For example, you would be able to self-declare if the event began yesterday; but if the event began three (3) days ago, this is past the two-day window allowed and thus will not be able to self-declare your absence in Quest.
If you feel your short-term absence should be added to your record, contact your faculty's associate dean, undergraduate.
Can I cancel a self-declared short-term absence?
You cannot cancel a self-declared short-term absence in Quest. Should the need arise to cancel a short-term absence, you must contact your faculty's associate dean, undergraduate.
What if I self-declared a short-term absence but I need more time after the two (2) days?
Contact your instructor and for illness-related absences, a Verification of Illness Form will be required for the remainder of the absence.
I'm trying to self-declare a short-term absence in Quest but am getting an error message. Why?
The option to self-declare a short-term absence will only be visible as long as you have not yet made a self-declaration for the current academic term. If it is visible, you will receive an error message if you are trying to self-declare an absence that does not meet the criteria:
- If the absence is occurring during the Final Examination Period.
- If the absence is longer than two days.
- If the absence occurred in the past.
- If the absence is to occur during the next term.
Can I use the short-term absence for a COVID-19-related absence?
In Quest, there is also a self-declaration option for a COVID-19-related absence (see How do I self-declare an absence). The absence category, relayed to your instructor, is different, as is the length of the absence. You should choose the COVID-19-related absence if it applies.
Where is this type of absence outlined in the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar?
The University successfully implemented a self-declaration of illness option during the COVID-19 pandemic. The self-declared short-term absence is a new option expanding on that success and it was introduced in fall 2022. Should the pilot go well, formal regulations surrounding this type of absence and option will be brought forward through appropriate governance channels and be added to the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar in the future.