COVID-19 & Student Accommodations

COVID-19 & Student Accommodations

“How to Accommodate Students through COVID-19” Webinar facilitated by Paula von Kretschmann, Ellen Hogan and Lexi Schlosser

By Paula von Kretschmann, Instructional Designer & Ellen Hogan, Accommodations Specialist & Alternative Format Text Manager, Disability Services Program.

As part of our Office of Teaching & Learning Engagement Blog series, we wanted to provide you with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we have received from faculty in regard to COVID-19 & student accommodations. These include but are not limited to questions such as how do I provide accommodations in Canvas such as extended time on quizzes & exam? What type of assistive technology is available for students? How do I approach COVID-19 accommodations?  While the uncertainty of COVID-19 continues on, we wanted to provide you with some helpful information that can assist you as you navigate through the intricacies of accommodations. 

Letter of Approved Accommodations

First and foremost, the most imperative component of accommodations, whether online or in the classroom, is making sure that your students are working with the Disability Services Program (DSP). They can determine the most appropriate level of accommodations depending on the specific student need, their assistive technology, and other accommodations. The DSP department will provide the student with a Letter of Approved Accommodations (LOAA), outlining the approved accommodations for the student, which will then be provided to the faculty at the student’s discretion. Any questions regarding specific accommodations and your course should be addressed to DSP at the beginning of the quarter, to make sure that reasonable accommodations can be provided timely.  

Accessibility While Teaching Online

With most courses going online, or transitioning to a Hyflex/Hybrid model, it is important to keep in mind accessibility in your online course. DSP has provided guidelines that can facilitate this process, from closed captioning resources for videos, accessibility in Canvas, creating accessible presentations / documents, accessible emails and more.  

Quizzes & Exams – Extended Time, Lockdown Browser & Respondus Monitor 

Do you need to provide extended time on a Canvas quiz? This helpful article can walk you through the process of adding more time to a specific quiz. If you are using Lockdown Browser or Monitor, DSP recommends creating a practice quiz at the beginning of the quarter to ensure that the testing environment is set up with the compatible settings needed to provide the student with their extended time accommodation. DSP is happy to work collaboratively with instructors and OTL to ensure students receive extra time on their quizzes and exams.  . If you are still unsure about using Lockdown Browser and/or Respondus Monitor, please check out our blog post about creating equitable and inclusive online exams using these testing tools.

Assistive Technology

DSP is available to discuss assistive technology resources based on individual student need. DSP does not provide hardware or software for personal use. For students needing access on personal computers, DSP has several suggestions for download or purchase available on the DSP website . The most common misconception is that only blind or low vision students require text to speech. On the contrary, students with learning disabilities (LD’s) such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism and a variety of other LD’s use and benefit from text to speech programs. Kurzweil 3000 for example, is provided not only to students with the needed accommodations, but licenses are available campus wide to any student, faculty or staff. Find out more about  assistive technology recommended by DSP.  

COVID-19 Accommodations

There are a variety of options for students who need COVID-19 accommodations, but due to the level of individualized options, it is best that the student contacts DSP to inquire further. However, prior to requesting accommodations, it is recommended that the student meet with their academic advisor to explore different modalities for the course offerings. 

Students who are immunocompromised, but who are asymptomatic and/or have tested negative for COVID-19 and would like to request academic adjustments due to their increased risk should first work with their academic advisor to determine what course options and delivery methods are available to reduce their exposure and/or best meet their needs.” – Disability Services Program

Student, Faculty & Staff Wellness

During these coming weeks, it important to keep the mental health of you and your students at the forefront. Please review the blog post “Taking care of ourselves and others” from Chancellor Dr. Jeremy Haefner, as well as our blog “Teaching Through a Pandemic: Cognitive Load, Mental Health amd Learning Under Stress”. 

Staff and faculty should contact the ADA Coordinator, Rufina Hernández, in  the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX to request accommodations associated with a disability or medical condition. 

  • Students can seek confidential mental health services available on campus in the Health & Counseling Center (HCC) and My Student Support System (My SSP).  Another helpful campus office is Student Outreach & Support (SOS), where staff work with students to connect to all the appropriate campus resources (there are many!), develop a plan of action, and guide them in navigating challenging situations. If you are concerned about a student, you can send an SOS referral. More information about HCC, MY SSP, and SOS can be found at: 

Health & Counseling Services 

My SSP 24/7 confidential services for students 

Student Outreach & Support (SOS) and SOS Referrals 

Need sample syllabus statements? Find them here. 

If you still have questions, comments or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Teaching and Learning, and meet with an Instructional Designer for one-on-one help. You can also visit our “Resources for teaching from a distance” web page for additional information.  If you have specific questions about a student accommodation, please contact the Disability Services Program at or at 303-871-3241.