In February 2022, Brock University Senate approved changes to the Faculty Handbook that removed the requirement for students to present medical notes in certain circumstances. Specifically, the use of the Student Medical Self-Declaration Form removed the requirement for students to present medical notes if they are unwell and unable to complete their academic activities for absences of three days or less. For absences of more than three days, as well as in certain specific situations such as when a student misses an exam, the requirement to submit a completed Medical Verification Form signed by a medical professional remained in place.
These changes brought Brock in line with emerging best practice in the university sector, in addition to alleviating the burden on medical services both on campus and in the community. The process also encourages students to stay at home if they are sick, which helps reduce the spread of disease on campus.
In February 2023, the Office of the Provost invited feedback on the use of the medical self-declaration process to help inform continuous improvement and to better support students and faculty members in their use of the process. A summary of this community feedback, which included more than 100 submissions from faculty, professional librarians, staff, and students, was presented to the members of the Senate Undergraduate Student Affairs Committee on May 17, 2023. Overall, the feedback indicated strong support for the continued use of the process. This included feedback from Student Health Services, which confirmed that the process had significantly alleviated the stress on demand for their support by freeing up appointments for healthcare delivery, as envisioned.
The feedback also included several recommendations for ways in which the parameters governing the use of the self-declaration process might be clarified or otherwise revised. One of these themes reflected the logistical burden being experienced by some instructors and teaching assistants in managing an email-driven process and tracking which students had already utilized the process in a given course.
In an effort to help address this challenge for instructors and teaching assistants, Brock’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation has developed instructions for how instructors may use Brightspace, our new Learning Management System, to more easily track submissions of the medical self-declaration form. These instructions are available in the CPI Educational Technology Knowledgebase.
Draft revisions to the parameters of the use of the medical self-declaration process will be taken to the Senate Undergraduate Student Affairs Committee this academic year.