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Even in the flexible environment afforded by online classes, there may be occasions where serious life/health crises affect students’ work. As an instructor, you must accommodate students who are late in completing their work due to such special circumstances. In addition, AAU student athletes may occasionally require accommodation, if their official game schedules prevent them from completing work on time.

The intent of this policy is to hold all students accountable for producing work that meets the quality standards for a class, while not unfairly penalizing students who through no fault of their own must occasionally submit work late.

See also: Outlining a Late Homework Policy

Approved reasons for lateness (i.e., excused lateness) include:

  • a medical or family emergency (affecting the student or her/his immediate family)
  • serious or sustained illness (sufficient to prevent a student from completing work on time)
  • late registration
  • games/game-related travel for student-athletes engaged in official AAU athletics (Note: Athletic practices are never an excuse for lateness.)
  • weather-related emergencies (Learn more: Supporting students affected by a natural disaster)

Under the above circumstances, do not penalize students simply for late work, provided they contact you in a timely manner (see below). However, if a student does not meet the arranged deadline for submitting the late work, her/his grade will suffer. Students with excused lateness are to be held to the same performance standards as all other students.

Managing late submissions

Here are some guidelines for managing late submissions from students with approved reasons for lateness:

  • Post your “Late Homework” policy at the start of the semester, and explain clearly to students the circumstances under which late work will and will not be accepted. This policy needs to include the officially approved reasons for lateness outlined above; however, whether or not you accept late work under other circumstances is left to your individual discretion (and to the policies of your academic department).
  • Whenever possible, students should anticipate circumstances that will make for late work and communicate with their instructors about making up work before the original deadline. (Please include this stipulation in your “Late Homework” policy.) Obviously, if a student is undergoing an emergency and cannot communicate with you in advance, you will need to make allowances for this.
  • When a student contacts you about excused late work, agree with her/him on a firm deadline for submission of missing work. We suggest an extension of one week, but please be flexible in adjusting this, if circumstances require it.
  • The simplest way to allow students extra time in which to post their work is to extend the closing dates for your current topics (Learn more: Setting Up Your Topics). Please note that assignment posts made after the due date but before the closing date will be marked as "Late," but it's always up to you to determine whether or not any penalty should apply to work marked late.
  • At grading periods, the grade should reflect whether or not the student has made up the work from an excused absence.

Adjusting participation grades for excused lateness

Obviously, participation in online discussions or critiques cannot be made up once the deadline has passed. However, you can arrange for students with excused absences to make up participation points in some other way (e.g., submitting a half-page written critique or a short essay on the topic of the missed discussion).

Alternatively, for students with excused lateness, you can reduce the total number of points that can be earned for this activity (e.g., instead of 150 possible points in 15 modules, there might be 130 possible points in 13 modules); this way, you are not penalizing the student for excused absences. In The Gradebook, select "Excused" for any work that will not be counted for the student.


  • Do not penalize students with excused lateness simply for submitting their work late.
  • Do require students to make up the missed work within a stipulated time period.
  • Do evaluate the work according to the same standards you always use.
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