From the Provost’s Desk: Encouraging Our Community to Stay Home When Sick

Supports are available to instructors who feel unwell, and for managing student absenteeism.


Thanks to our community and the steps we have collectively taken to maximize the health and safety of our campuses, the U of A has been able to resume most in-person teaching and research activities. As President Flanagan announced earlier this month, we anticipate a full return by the end of January 2022. As we continue to navigate a time of shared health consequences, it is important that we care for each other by caring for ourselves. To continue to ensure the health of our community, we are encouraging all individuals who may be feeling unwell to stay home until they are well. This will apply to your students, but will also apply to you. 

Instructor Illness

If you feel unwell, protect yourself and the community - stay home. Here are a few of the options available to if you need to stay home due to illness:

Call-in Sick & Cancel Your Class(es) 
If you are feeling unwell, stay home and send out a note to your students letting them know that class will be cancelled for the day. Ask them to watch their inbox for an update about the status of upcoming classes.

Ask a Colleague/Find a Guest Lecturer
If you are unwell and do not believe you’ll be up for teaching, check with a colleague or call your Chair to see if arrangements can be made for a substitute instructor/guest lecturer to cover your class. This option might be the best option for those instructors who expect to miss more than one day of instruction. 

If you are unable to come to campus for in-person work, or require alternate work arrangements due to your own personal health conditions, you can seek an accommodation through the university’s medical accommodation processes.

Student Illness

As instructors, you will also need to support students when they need to stay home, and manage student absenteeism in regular course delivery and exams. I know this can be challenging, and there are supports available:

Centre for Teaching and Learning
Student absenteeism has been one of the most popular topics that the Centre for Teaching and Learning team has been guiding instructors on. CTL's Cosette Lemelin, Anita Parker and Krysta McNutt authored this post with some advice. CTL also offers resources on synchronous and asynchronous teaching and consultations

Office of the Dean of Students
The Office of the Dean of Students is working with instructors and developing new tools to support student accommodations. If you have any questions or need support, I encourage you to reach out to the Academic Success Centre at

Information Services and TechnologyInformation Services and Technology offers resources on teaching remotely and managing virtual classroom components.

If you have students who require additional wellness supports, you can refer them to the Wellness Supports Team, Student Service Centre or the Office of the Dean of Students

Thank you for your support and willingness to work together to allow those who are ill to stay home while sick. 

Steven Dew
Provost and Vice-president, Academic