How to Handle Drops in Online Classes

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.).