By Christine Roy

Fall marks the unofficial start of the cold and flu season and while the H1N1 crisis of 2009 has altered Algonquin’s protocol requiring doctor’s notes to explain absences, some faculty may still require it.

While the teachers themselves go by a case-by-case scenario, the academic council has a policy about such things.

In 2013, Claude Brulé, vice president academic of Algonquin, released a memo to the academic community stating that “addressing student absence from class requires a common sense approach, assumes honesty, and allows faculty to exercise judgement while keeping student success foremost in mind.”

In addition to this, Brulé also reminds the faculty that “the college continues to support that faculty not request a doctor’s note when a student misses a class, lab or other learning activity.”

“A student can walk in to the clinic and see a nurse.  There may be wait times though as the nurses are first-come, first-served” -Sandra McCormick

However, when a teacher requires a doctor’s note to explain an absence, students might be confronted with a dilemma.  While Health Services have nurses on staff, it’s not a guarantee that a student can be seen immediately.

“A student can walk in to the clinic and see a nurse.  There may be wait times though as the nurses are first-come, first-served,” said Sandra McCormick, manager of Health Services on campus.

“Sometimes, it is difficult for nurses or doctors to write a sick note for a student when they come in to Health Services after they’ve been sick.”

The practice of requiring a doctor’s note is still in use these days for extreme situations but most teachers insist that students contact them before the missed class, as stated in Brulé’s memo: “The student is asked to contact the course professor before the class takes place to indicate that he or she is ill.”

Jessica Robertson and Laurie Utton, students from the social service worker intensive program, have never needed to provide a doctor’s note while attending Algonquin.

“It’s relative to the situation, depending on the academic value of the assignment,” Robertson said.  “If it was an exam, I understand.  But for missing a due date for a 10 percent assignment, it seems excessive.”

While attending university only three years ago, Robertson did need to provide a doctor’s note.

“It was at the teacher’s discretion,” she said, referring to her instructors needing a doctor’s note.

“It might sound a bit harsh but if I have to write an exam, everyone else should,” said Robertson.  “If you’re really too sick to go in, you probably need to be in the hospital.”