How to Handle Drops in Online Classes

How to Handle Drops and Attendance in Online Classes

It is difficult to define “excessive absences” in online classes. However, you can define attendance as it relates to participation.  

Develop a clear drop policy based on participation and state it in your syllabus. Ensure that your students know that participating in the activities of your course (i.e. discussions, quizzes, viewing videos, etc.) constitutes attendance in the course, and that failing to do so will result in being dropped. 


“Lack of participation in discussions for two weeks will result in being dropped from the course.”  Or, 
“Lack of completion of assignments for two weeks will result in being dropped from the course.”


“You must log into the course and complete at least one activity during the first week of class or you will be dropped.” 

Note: Students who are granted permission to enroll in a class late must be exempt from these policies. 

Expecting students to be ready to participate in online courses from Day 1 means that instructors must ensure their online classes are ready and opened to students as soon as the term begins. Students must be made aware (welcome message or announcement) of the drop policy so that they can begin active participation without delay in order to avoid being dropped as a No-Show.


Frequently Asked Questions about Dropping Students in Online Classes

I have students who have never logged into my Canvas course. Can I drop them on census date?

Yes. Students who haven’t logged onto your Canvas shell by the census date should be dropped. It’s the equivalent of not coming to class – they are no-shows.

You can see if a student is a no-show by looking under “People” in your Canvas course (see Last Activity and Total Activity columns for each student).

I have students who logged into the course during the first few days of the term and submitted some preliminary work in the course, but have not logged back into the Canvas shell in the last 10-12 days or so. Can I drop them?

It is safe to say ‘yes’.

Having a drop policy in your syllabus will cover your actions in cases like the above. You will eliminate the headaches of inactive students returning weeks later, begging for forgiveness, and asking you to open up missed assignments and quizzes.

If a student is logging in, but has not turned in any assignments, can I drop him?

Yes - If you have a clearly-spelled out ‘participation’ policy in your syllabus.

Logging into an online class and not doing homework is not much different from students who attend your traditional classes and take a nap in the back of the classroom. Of course, you can “clean up” your roster from non-doers, but you have to define your drop/participation policy and share your expectations with students, in advance.

How much time do I give late adds to submit missed work before dropping them?

If you granted permission to students to add late, you need to give them extensions in all missed assignments (equivalent to the time they missed) to make up the work, buy texts, etc.

I have students who have submitted homework assignments but have not attended the lecture on ConferZoom (no time recorded). Should I drop those students?

No, you should not drop students who did not attend your (optional) Zoom lectures.

Is the last login under “People” related to when a student submitted homework or posted in discussions last?

No. The last login timestamp in “People” indicates when a student logged into your Canvas shell. He or She may not have submitted anything, but simply looked around and left. The last login date/time stamp provides evidence that the student is still “around,” but it is not participation.

Do I need to give a reason when dropping students by the census date?

Yes. When dropping students in MyDelta, include a reason (i.e. no-show, no activity, etc.).

Introduction to Canvas Training

Jim Marteney
Jim Marteney, Certified Online Learning Trainer

This Canvas training course meets the DE certification requirements at Delta College.  Offered fully online to Delta faculty, free of charge.

    • Next offering will be in early Fall, based on demand. Please check back for updates.

The goal of this 3-week training is to help you learn the core features of the Canvas system to teach and support your classes.

The course consists of 9 modules that are grouped into 3 Units. If you schedule yourself to do one Unit per week, you will find this a fairly relaxed pace. You may move along at your own pace.  

Learn More…


Padlet is a free online bulletin board you can use to collect and display information from students, either as a standalone tool or within Canvas.  Students can share text-based “post-its,” website links, pictures, videos, and even comment on each other’s posts.

View Recorded Training on Padlet (25 minutes) 

Facilitated by Jennifer Azzaro, Distance Education and Professor Development Coordinator, Delta College. 

Labster for Online Labs

The Chancellor’s Office has signed a contract with Labster to provide access to its platform and entire library of science lab simulations to all CA community colleges through 12/31/2020. These simulations can help you offer biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering lab courses online. 

Labster is now integrated into Delta’s Canvas platform.  

Please see the below information for instructions on how to add Labster content into your Canvas course shells, resources, training, and for support. You may also download the Labster to Canvas Guide.

  1. Setting up Labster and Viewing Training Webinars

The website below (and attached instructions) give faculty what they need to add Labster into their courses if they so choose:

Dedicated web page for all CCC faculty

Also, the Labster team is offering faculty training webinars via Zoom and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. Faculty can determine which one fits in their schedule by visiting the CVC-OEI Events Calendar.

2.  Teaching with Labster

3. Best Practices for Using Labster

Contacting Labster Support

If you have any other questions or problems with Labster, please use this Labster Support Ticket Link to submit a support ticket. Their support team will reach out to you via email or phone.


Canvas Basics (3-Part Videos)

Canvas Basics, Part 1 (39 min)

Covers the dashboard, basic navigation, turning tools on/off, uploading a profile picture, creating a homepage, posting a syllabus, creating announcements, and some accessibility tips.

00:00 – Intro, Canvas Dashboard / Course Cards, Profile and Picture, Notifications, Basic Navigation
9:15 – Global and Course Navigation Menus, Turning Tools On & Off
12:28 – Setting up a Homepage (including how to post picture and make hyperlinks)
26:27 – Posting Your Syllabus
33:45 – Posting Announcements

Canvas Basics, Part 2 (31 min)

Covers publishing your course, using “Student View,” uploading files (PowerPoints, documents), and setting up discussions.

00:00 – Intro; Showing “Recent Announcements” on the Course Homepage
04:10 – Publishing your Course
05:10 – Using Student View
6:36 – Using Files to Upload Documents, PowerPoints, etc.
15:45 – Setting up Discussions (and a Question & Answer forum for your students!)

Canvas Basics, Part 3 (57 min)

Covers setting up assignments, using SpeedGrader and marking up papers, setting up Quizzes, allowing extra time and attempts

00:00 – Intro; Setting up an Assignment
18:20 – Using SpeedGrader and Marking up Papers
23:40 – Assignment Groups
26:05 – Setting up Quizzes and Tests
51:43 – Allowing Extra Attempts or Extra Time
54:13 – A couple things to read up on in Canvas Lite & Users Group (Gradebook, Inbox)