Authorized Absence


For requests relating to the Covid-19 situation and/or an inability to participate in online learning during the Winter 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 semesters:

Please note that the Ministry of Education has imposed a deadline for requests being made without supporting documentation for the aforementioned semesters. All requests must be submitted before December 1, 2021. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must meet a minimum standard in order to be considered. There is no guarantee of acceptance.

Please note that late requests which are being made with supporting documentation from a doctor or psychologist are subject to the usual one-year limit following the end of the semester in question.

For all requests beginning in Fall 2021 onward, the usual rules apply and there will be no requests considered without appropriate supporting documentation – please see below for an FAQ and full details.

The following are guidelines for making a request without supporting documentation for semesters between Winter 2020 and Summer 2021:

If your inability to complete your courses was related to Covid-19 or insurmountable difficulties with online learning which began after the course drop deadline, then you must send an email to with the following information. Any request which does not include all of the following may be refused.

Please note that any request relating to mental or physical health must be accompanied by the standard supporting documentation from a doctor or psychologist licensed to practice in Quebec.

  • Name
  • Student number
  • Program
  • The semester for which you are making a request
  • The course(s) which you could not complete (please include course number and title)
  • A detailed explanation of your reasons for requesting an authorized absence, including, as applicable:
    • the specific problem(s) which made it impossible to complete the course(s), and how they were related to Covid-19 or online learning (if you were diagnosed with Covid-19, please attach the positive test result as a PDF)
    • any steps you have taken to overcome these obstacles
    • why you did not drop the course(s) by the drop deadline if you were unable to effectively participate in online learning
    • whether something changed after the drop deadline to worsen your situation

Please note that a general statement will not suffice, and you must provide a detailed and compelling explanation. Your request will be considered based on this information.

Fall 2021 Requests

After the drop deadline, an Authorized Absence may be requested only for serious medical reasons which prevented the student from attending school for more than three weeks. Supporting documentation from an independent medical professional is required.  Other requests will be considered in exceptional cases for grave and serious reasons.  Students must submit their requests before the end of the semester concerned.

Complete the request form and attach original, signed medical documents.

Submit your completed request either:

Authorized Absence – General Information (revised 2020)

Authorized Absence – Request Form (revised 2020)

Authorized Absence FAQ

What is an authorized absence?

An authorized absence, or a permanent incomplete, means that although a course will still appear on your transcript, there will be no grade. Instead, there will be a notation of IN (for incomplete). The course will therefore not count towards your R-score and – in the case of DEC students – must be repeated or replaced by another course of the same category.

Will I be withdrawn from my classes? Is this a course drop? Will I get a refund? Will this affect my full-time/part-time status?

An authorized absence, or permanent incomplete, is not a course withdrawal. If the request is granted, you will remain registered in your course(s) and will still be considered a student at Dawson College. You will still be entitled to use all College services for the duration of the semester, and you will not be entitled to a refund. Your full-time/part-time status will remain the same as before.

Who can request an authorized absence?

A student who has failed or will fail a course or courses due to serious circumstances beyond their control which have prevented them from attending/participating for over three weeks during the semester (or over 20% of a summer, AEC or intensive course), may request an authorized absence providing they have appropriate supporting documentation.

Who can provide my supporting documentation?

Normally the form must be signed by a physician (a doctor who is a member of the The Collège des médecins du Québec) or psychologist (a member of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec). A registered physiotherapist may provide the supporting documentation ONLY for requests regarding physical education courses – they may not provide documentation for requests regarding other courses. Depending on your situation, it may be possible to accept documentation from other professionals. Please contact Julia Smith at for more details.

The drop deadline hasn’t passed yet, and I need an authorized absence – what do I do?

You must withdraw from the course(s) in question if the drop deadline has not passed. If your condition is affecting all of your classes, you must complete a college withdrawal through Omnivox, and then you will have to re-apply to Dawson College by the application deadline if you wish to return in a future semester.

What is the deadline to submit a request?

The end of the semester, which is defined by the final grade deadline (please see the Academic Calendar for this information). After the semester ends, you may submit a request for up to one year providing you have a valid explanation for the lateness of your request. Please note that submitting your form late may adversely affect your ability to register for classes and/or your standing at Dawson College.

Who will have access to this information? Will my teachers see it? Will the Admissions committee use this in making future decisions?

This process is kept strictly confidential. Your authorized absence request is kept separate from your student file, and is not shared with your teachers, the Admissions committee or any other service unless you explicitly ask us to. It will be reviewed by the Dean of Academic Systems and their assistant, and in exceptional circumstances may be reviewed by the Academic Dean if necessary.

I don’t have a doctor/a psychologist: what should I do?

You should make an effort to see the appropriate healthcare professional as soon as possible to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Dawson College offers counselling services as well as health services, but you may also choose to visit a walk-in clinic, an emergency room or a private clinic as appropriate for your situation. Please be aware that many, if not most, healthcare professionals will not “back date” a medical note (i.e. they will not attest to your illness if they were not treating you at the time). It is important to see someone promptly if you are unwell.

I missed an exam/a few days of class – can I request an authorized absence?

If you have not missed three consecutive weeks of the course, you should speak with your teacher to establish whether it is possible to make up the missed work/exam, because you are not eligible for an authorized absence.

My doctor/psychologist did not include dates on my medical report, because my condition is ongoing/I’m still being diagnosed. Is this a problem?

Yes. You must obtain supporting documentation that clearly indicates that your condition has affected or will affect you for over three consecutive weeks during the semester. We are not asking when your illness will be resolved, but rather for how long this has affected/will affect your ability to attend/participate in class. If they believe you are unable to continue for the entire semester, they may indicate the last day of classes.

How should I submit my request?

Please send the request and supporting documentation to Attach the documents as a PDF or JPEG and ensure that the images are clear and large enough to read. Do not submit links to cloud storage – the document must be an actual attachment. You may also drop off a request at 2D.6 when the office is open, but this will create delays.

What if my issue isn’t medical?

It is possible to request an authorized absence for other reasons, providing the situation meets the criteria outlined above and in ISEP. For example, a death in the immediate family (e.g. a parent or child) can be documented using a death certificate alone. Please note that if a request is being made due to the death of a non-immediate family member (e.g. grandparent, cousin) or friend, the request must be accompanied by a medical note from a doctor or psychologist explaining the particularly serious effect this has had on the student.

I am the parent, spouse/partner or treating healthcare professional of a student, and I have questions – to whom should I speak?

Without written authorization from the student, we cannot discuss the student’s file with anyone. If the student is under 18, parents may contact us on the student’s behalf. General questions, however, including policies, rules and procedures can be discussed. Please contact the Assistant to the Dean of Academic Systems, Julia Smith, at or 514-931-8731 ext. 1161.

I am in a technical program, and I need to request an authorized absence for some or all of my concentration courses. How will this affect me going forward?

You should discuss your progression with your Program Coordinator or an Academic Advisor. If you are unable to advance in the following semester, you will be “floating” and taking general education courses only. If, however, you have no general education courses left to take you will have to take a semester off and then re-apply. It is very important that you discuss this with your Program Coordinator or an Academic Advisor, however, because each situation is unique and many different factors can affect your standing at the college depending on program, semester and your particular history.

I would like to talk to someone about my situation. Can I see someone in private?

Yes, you may request a meeting with the Assistant to the Dean of Academic Systems, or you may send your questions by MIO/email if you prefer: Julia Smith can be reached at or 514-931-8731 ext. 1161.

Last Modified: September 14, 2021