Voluntary Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) Policy
Emory & Henry College recognizes that students may experience medical and/or mental health related situations that significantly limit their ability to function successfully or safely in their role as students. In those situations, students should consider requesting a medical leave of absence (MLOA), which permits students to take a break from college life and their studies so they may receive treatment and later return to the college with an enhanced opportunity to achieve their academic and co-curricular goals.
Emory & Henry College has designed this policy to ensure that students are given the individualized attention, consideration, and support needed to address health related issues that arise or escalate during their time at the college. This policy outlines a flexible and individualized process that students should follow to request a medical leave of absence to address their situation so they can return to successfully matriculate at the college.
Note: Students may also be eligible to take other types of leave from their academic program. Undergraduate students and international students should consult the academic catalog and contact their academic advisor for more information.
Advantages of Taking a Medical Leave of Absence
Students who take a MLOA may be eligible to receive the following advantages that may not be afforded by other leaves of absence:
- A MLOA does not necessarily disrupt the student’s guarantee of scholarships or funding
- A MLOA may allow a student to initiate a leave of absence and withdraw from classes later in the semester than is normally permitted for personal leaves of absence
- The length of time a student may take to recover while on a MLOA is typically longer than the length of time permitted by an academic program for a personal leave of absence.
Medical Leave of Absence Process
The following procedures provide for an individualized approach for assessing a student’s eligibility to take and return from a MLOA and are designed to be reasonable and flexible.
The Exit Process
Students who are experiencing significant health issues that are interfering with their academics or college life may choose to request a voluntary medical leave of absence. Students interested in a MLOA should contact the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Student Success (these offices will be referred to as “appropriate office” throughout the remainder of this document for brevity purposes).Students requesting a MLOA may also request a student success coach for additional assistance depending on their situation and need. Students will be referred to the appropriate health service based on their specific needs. This may be the college health center, the college counseling center, or a third party provider. In recommending a medical leave, the appropriate health service will make individualized treatment recommendations to students designed to help them become academically and personally ready to resume life at the College upon their return. This recommendation from the appropriate health service should be submitted to the MLOA committee, which consists of: The Dean of Students, the Dean of Student Success, the Director of Counseling, the Director of Academic Support and Disability Services, and the Director of the College Health Center, that a student’s request for a MLOA be approved where the student’s health, safety, or academic success has been compromised by a significant health issue. The MLOA committee is responsible for granting leaves of absence. The exit process proceeds as quickly as possible to allow a student experiencing difficulties due to a medical and/or mental health related condition to immediately step away from College life and receive the support they need.
Because every student’s situation is different, the length of the recommended leave will be determined individually. The goal of taking a MLOA is to ensure that students return to the College with an increased opportunity for academic success and students should take the time to achieve this goal. Students should check in with the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Student Success prior to and during their leave as leaves may not be permitted indefinitely. Students may be assigned a campus liaison while they are on leave, depending on their need and circumstance.
Returning from a MLOA
When a student is interested in returning to the College from a voluntary medical leave of absence, the student should take the following steps in order to initiate the re-enrollment process:
- Contact the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Student Success and their campus liaison if one has been assigned to advise of the student’s interest in re-enrolling. This should be done well in advance of the intended return date. Students should submit all materials by November 1 for consideration for the spring semester, April 1 for the summer sessions, and June 30 for the fall semester. This ensures that the MLOA committee has sufficient time to review the student’s request and re-enroll the student. If materials are received shortly after the relevant deadline, the College will attempt to be flexible and review the student’s request to return for the desired semester. However, if there is missing information and/or the College needs additional time to contact the student’s treatment provider, as discussed below, consideration for a return may be made for the following semester rather than the semester for which they were initially seeking to return.
- Speak with the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Student Success, when appropriate, to determine whether any unfinished coursework should be completed prior to returning from the leave.
- Have treatment providers send a report documenting their work with the student, the student’s clinical status, and an opinion as to the student’s readiness to successfully resume academics and college life. The MLOA committee relies heavily on information received from the student’s treatment provider. Students will be asked to provide Release of Information Forms to the MLOA committee so that its representative may communicate with treatment providers and other appropriate campus partners, such as student success coaches and advisors, regarding their return.
- Depending upon the nature and individual circumstances of the MLOA, provide information to the MLOA committee showing that the student has reasonable capability of day-to-day functioning, with or without reasonable accommodations. The decision to require a student to provide this information is made on an individualized, case-by-case basis, and the decision and an explanation for this decision is conveyed to the student, in writing, during the exit process. The MLOA committee may also require this information be submitted at a later time if it determines that the information provided by the student’s treatment provider is not sufficient to make a recommendation about return. In those cases, the MLOA committee will provide the student with a written explanation for this determination. There are many ways in which a student might be able to demonstrate their day-to-day functioning. Students may choose to provide documentation from a reliable adult community observer who can comment on a student’s activities and readiness to resume college life. A reliable adult community observer could be a mentor, a member of the clergy, a work or community service supervisor, co-worker, personal trainer, athletic coach, or some other individual in a position to have observed the student during the course of the leave (not a family member). Where possible, the letter should be submitted on letterhead stationery, signed, dated, and describe the student’s daily activities and the extent to which the writer feels the student is ready to resume students at Emory & Henry College and participate productively in College life. The student may choose to have the letter sent to the Dean of Students or Dean of Student Success to forward it to the MLOA committee if more convenient. Alternatively, a student may provide the name and contact information of a reference who will be able to provide information concerning the student’s daily activity and readiness to resume studies to the MLOA committee. The student will not have to disclose the reason for the leave of absence to the letter writer or reference.
- Depending upon the nature and individual circumstances of the MLOA, provide a brief statement (no more than 2 pages) describing (1) the student’s experience away from Emory & Henry College, including the activities undertaken while away, (2) the student’s current understanding of the factors that led to the need for the leave, and the insights the student has gained from treatment and time away, and (3) how the student plans to ensure a successful return to Emory & Henry College. The decision to require a student to provide this information is made on an individualized basis, and the decision and an explanation for this decision is conveyed to the student, in writing, during the exit process. The MLOA committee may also require this information be submitted at a later time if the College determines that the other information submitted is not sufficient to make a recommendation about return. In those cases, the MLOA committee will provide the student with a written explanation for this determination. Any requests for additional information may extend the College’s timeframe for reviewing requests to return. The College will notify the student of any situations where its review is delayed and the cause for the delay.
Processing a Student’s Request to Return from a MLOA
Once a student has sent in the materials, they should call the Dean of Students or the Dean of Student Success to double check that their materials have been received. Following a review of these materials, the MLOA committee will determine if the student appears ready to resume academics and college life. The MLOA committee will recommend a student for a return where the documentation demonstrates that the student is ready to resume studies and be a successful member of the campus community. Every effort will be made to respond to the student’s request for return within 14 calendar days of submission of all the required materials. A longer response time may be caused by the inability to reach a student’s treatment provider, scheduling conflicts with members of the MLOA committee, or other extenuating circumstances.
As described above, the MLOA committee gives significant weight to the documentation of the opinion of the student’s treatment providers regarding the student’s ability to function academically and safely at the College with or without reasonable accommodations. During the process of reviewing an application, if the MLOA committee determines that information provided by the treatment provider is incomplete, requires further explanation or clarification, or when there is a disconnect between the medical information provided by the treatment provider and other information in the student’s files, the MLOA committee will contact the treatment provider to obtain additional information. In extraordinary circumstances (e.g. the College is concerned about the medical provider’s credentials), the MLOA committee may request that the student undergo an additional assessment to allow the College to make a determination about the student’s readiness for return. In those rare instances, the MLOA committee will notify the student of its rationale for making this request.
Once a student receives a satisfactory review, the MLOA committee will contact the student to request a check-in visit, which can be held in person or remotely, to review the students’ safety and review their plan for sustained health, including recommendations for ongoing treatment, on or off campus. Students with disabilities may be eligible for reasonable accommodations and/or special services in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAA) of 2008. Students are responsible for communicating their requests for academic, housing, or other accommodations to the Director of Academic Support and Disability Services in the Office of Student Success. Detailed information on the process for requesting accommodations may be found on the Emory & Henry College website.
The MLOA committee will then provide a recommendation for return to the Dean of Students office and the Dean of Students will make the final determination of whether a student is able to return. The MLOA committee will be in touch with students regarding any applicable academic requirements upon returning to the College.
If, upon review, the MLOA committee submits a recommendation to the Dean of Students Office that a student is not ready for return, the student will be advised of the MLOA committee’s recommendation in writing along with recommendations that will enhance the student’s chance of a positive recommendation the next time the student’s request is considered. A student may appeal the MLOA committee’s recommendation that the student is not ready to return to the College by submitting an appeal letter in writing to the Dean of Students within 10 business days of receiving the notice of the negative recommendation. The student may also submit any information they believe to be relevant to the appeal. The MLOA committee will review the student’s submission and make a final determination as to recommendation for return.