Voluntary medical leave

To best serve the physical and mental health needs of students, Connecticut College provides health and counseling services. Some students, however, may have medical or psychological conditions so serious that their ability to function as students is severely affected in ways that prohibit their remaining on campus. In such cases, Connecticut College will act to best support the welfare of the individual student and the College community. For students considering a medical leave, please note the following information:

1. You must meet with or contact your Academic Dean to discuss/initiate the Medical Leave process. It is preferable, if you are on campus, to meet with Student Health Services and/or Student Counseling Services as well. Medical Leave will be granted after consultation with the Academic Dean, Dean of Student Life, and the Director of Student Health Services and/or Director of Student Counseling Services.

2. A medical leave does not sever your connection with the College. When a medical situation is resolved, you will be able to return to the College.

3. You will be eligible to pre-register for classes from home at the same time as on-campus students are pre-registering. You will also be able to participate in the housing lottery or to apply for housing along with other returning students. In order to pre-register and participate in the housing lottery, you must signify your intent to return before the end of the spring semester pre-registration period if you are planning to return for fall semester or by the end of the fall pre-registration period if you are planning to return for the spring semester. Note that if you do not signify your intent to return by the required date, you will need to register for classes during the add/delete period after the semester begins. The pre-registration and housing lottery process are intended to ensure that students on medical leave will not be at a disadvantage when they return and are separate from re-entry approval, which must be obtained before re-entry into college.

4. Under ordinary circumstances and after consultation with your academic dean, you will be allowed to take courses elsewhere. With the prior approval of the registrar and upon successful completion of those courses, you will be able to transfer them to Connecticut College.

5. Tuition insurance, for students possessing it, applies to medical leave.

6. When a student is unable to complete the semester for medical reasons and obtains a medical leave, the transcript will show a "W" in lieu of a letter grade for each course attempted that semester.

7. When you are ready to return to college please print out the Treating Provider Instruction sheet (below) to give to your provider(s) as a guide for the letter(s) that must be submitted on your behalf. Please note that an exchange of information form (see below to select the most appropriate form) will need to be filled out for your provider(s), for the Dean of Student Life, and for your Academic Dean, and must then be submitted to the appropriate department (Student Health Services or Student Counseling Services). These documents need to be sent approximately  21  days prior to your anticipated return to college. If paperwork is not received within a sufficient amount of time, a smooth re-entry may be delayed.


From student (whichever is most applicable):

From health provider(s)

Treating Provider Instruction sheet (Student Health Services)
Treating Provider Instruction sheet (Student Counseling Services)
  • Provider(s) name, credentials, address, fax, phone and email address (no relatives will be accepted as providers)
  • Length and type of treatment 
  • Diagnosis
  • Prognosis 
  • Current medications 
  • Recent history of success with employment and/or academics 
  • Ability to participate in college life, including academic, dorm, social activities, etc. 
  • Recommended accommodations 
  • Recommendations regarding continued health treatment and medication

Upon receipt of this written information, the Director (or designee) may contact the provider for follow-up.  An interview with the student may also be required.  Appropriate information regarding the student’s return will then be forwarded to the appropriate Academic Dean and the Dean of Student Life.

College-initiated medical leave

Students at Connecticut College may be placed on College-initiated medical leave due to Risk to the Community, which means posing a legitimate safety concern of harm to self, or a direct threat of harm to others where reasonable program modifications will not effectively mitigate the risk. Before a college-initiated medical leave is considered, efforts will be made to explore with the student options to take a student-initiated medical leave.

A student who engages in threats to others, or engages in self-harm behaviors that cause a significant disruption to the community may also be subject to the student code of conduct. In those instances, an interim suspension may be imposed. A student may not take a voluntary leave or withdraw from the college before the resolution of student conduct violations unless the Dean of Student Life has granted permission. In such circumstances, the student’s return to the college may be contingent upon the completion of student conduct proceedings.

Procedures for College-Initiated Medical Leave College-initiated medical leaves occur when a student poses a legitimate safety risk of harm to him/herself or is a significant risk of harm to others as a result of a condition covered by disabilities law and there are no reasonable accommodations by the College that will mitigate the risk. When the potential for harm to self or others is present, college-initiated medical leave actions must consider whether the endangering behavior or health condition results from a condition of disability. If so, the student will be protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under this federal statute, an individual with a disability may only be separated on the basis of this disability when they are not otherwise qualified to participate in the education program of the institution. A determination may be made to determine whether it is more likely than not that a student is a direct threat to self or others. When a student is a direct threat, he or she is not otherwise qualified under disabilities law, and may be placed on leave.

(a) Standard for leave on the basis of threat of harm to others

The objective of the College is to determine whether it is more likely than not that a student is a direct threat. A direct threat exists when a student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of others. A significant risk constitutes a high probability of substantial harm. Significance will be determined by: 

  • The duration of the risk;
  • The nature and severity of the potential harm;
  • The likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and
  • The imminence of the potential harm.

The College must determine whether reasonable modification to policies, practices and/or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk, unless those reasonable modifications would cause undue hardship for the College. Determining that a student is a direct threat to others requires an objective and individualized assessment and hearing. The assessment must be based on a reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence. This standard also applies to the reinstatement of a student who has been placed on leave. They are entitled to return upon a showing they no longer pose a direct threat to others. The College’s Behavioral Intervention Team may assist in this determination.

(b) Standard for leave on the basis of self harm behaviors

Self-harming behaviors that significantly disrupt normal College activities may be subject to the student conduct process. Potentially lethal or acute self-harming behaviors, such as suicide attempts, are addressed under this policy as legitimate safety concerns. When the College, using the process below, determines that a student poses a legitimate safety concern of harm to self, the College-initiated medical leave process can be invoked.

The Dean of Student Life (or CARE Team) may refer or mandate a student for evaluation by a campus or independent licensed mental health professional chosen by the College. Such evaluation may be appropriate if it is believed that the student might meet the criteria set forth in this policy or if a student subject to conduct proceedings provides notification that information concerning a mental health/behavioral condition or disorder will be introduced.

Students referred or mandated for evaluation will be so informed in writing with personal and/or certified delivery, and will be given a copy of these standards and procedures. The evaluation must be completed per the direction of the referral letter, unless the Dean of Student Life (or designee) grants an extension. A student who fails to complete the evaluation in accordance with these standards and procedures, and/or who fails to give permission for the results to be shared with appropriate administrators, may be referred for conduct action for non-compliance under the Honor Code.

College-initiated medical leave hearing procedures

The Dean of Student Life (or designee) may invoke these procedures to determine the need for a college-initiated medical leave. In this procedure, medical and administrative evidence (e.g. CARE Team assessment) will be provided to the Dean of Student Life and final determinations will be made by the Dean of Student Life (or designee). If the medical evaluation and/or administrative assessment (e.g. CARE Team assessment) support the need for a leave, the Dean of Student Life will render a written decision within two business days, barring exigent circumstances, stating the rationale for his/her determination. The decision will be delivered to the student directly, electronically and/or by regular and certified mail. If the determination is made that a leave is warranted, the notification will include information regarding how long the leave may endure, as well as specifying any conditions of reinstatement. If other actions are pending, the appropriate individuals will be notified and may proceed with their actions. The student on leave may not participate in College activities until the first official day of the academic semester of returning unless given express permission by the Dean of the College, the Dean of Student Life, or the Dean of Studies, as appropriate and as outlined in the notice of College-initiated medical leave.

Appeals process

The determination of the college-initiated medical leave hearing is subject to appeal to the Dean of the College in accordance with the following process:

1. Students subject to college-initiated medical leave may petition for a review of the determination within three (3) business days of receipt of the decision.

2. The determination is subject to appeal to the Dean of the College in accordance with the following process. All petitions must be in writing and delivered to the Dean of the College (or designee). Reviews will only be considered for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To consider new information which was unavailable at the time of the original evaluation and could be outcome determinative;
  • To assess whether a material deviation from written procedures impacted the fairness or outcome of the decision ;
  • To decide if a College-initiated medical leave is inappropriate to address the nature, duration, and/or severity of the risk or threat.
  • To determine if the decision does not align with the information provided or whether reasonable accommodations might mitigate the risk without a leave; or
  • To assess whether bias on the part of a committee member deprived the process of impartiality.

Except as required to explain the basis of new information unavailable at the time, the review will be limited to the record of the initial hearing and/or all supporting documents. The review and appeal decision of the Dean of the College (or designee) is final.

Reinstatement following a college-initiated medical leave

A student who is seeking reinstatement to the College after College-initiated medical leave must receive clearance by the Dean of Students and their Academic Dean. The student is permitted to return upon the end of the leave, subject only to the conditions or restrictions imposed by the College. This includes a letter from the medical or mental health professional that provided care to the student during his or her leave. The contents of the letter shall include medical verification that the student has taken steps to treat the condition that led to the leave, that the student is no longer a direct threat to others or legitimate safety risk to self, and that the student is otherwise qualified to participate in the College’s educational programs. Additionally, information regarding the student’s current mental/medical status, diagnosis, medications, prognosis, treatment recommendations, and recommended accommodations shall be required. The student shall provide permission for the providers to review the circumstances leading to the leave and to engage in discussion with the College providers reviewing request to return. This letter shall be sent to the Director of Student Counseling or Director of Student Health Services, whoever is the appropriate service given the circumstances of the original leave. The student will provide signed consents to the appropriate Director in order to allow communications with the outside mental health provider as needed, and the college, to provide information regarding reinstatement. All conditions for reinstatement will be designed to ensure the success of the student upon return to the College. Any other conditions outlined in accordance with this policy and/or any conduct sanctions must also be completed. A review by the CARE Team may be held to determine whether it is more likely than not that the student is no longer a direct threat or legitimate safety risk to self.