Since the beginning of the Corona Virus pandemic and the adaptation to distance learning, I have had to adapt my classes to hold exams via video calls. In previous semesters when I've had students with special accommodations (i.e. entitlement to extra time on exams), the students would generally go to a different office where they would take the exam with a special proctor who was aware of their entitlements. My institution however has levied this burden to instructors to keep track of students' various time limits on exams.

A student of mine with an extra time entitlement had emailed me to confirm that I was going to honor this. I didn't have the time to respond to them via email prior to the exam, but I had sent this student a private message via the video call platform to confirm with them their extra time and wrote out instructions for submitting their exam. This student however never read my message, and as a result submitted their exam prematurely claiming that I hadn't confirmed their extra time entitlement. Because the video call platform doesn't record private messaging into their transcript, I have no physical evidence to show the student that I had messaged them at the start of the exam.

I'd like to know what would ethically be the right way to handle this situation. I want to honor this student's time entitlement, and potentially give them the lost time to complete the exam, but I'm already at a place where I have to go over the exam with my other students. I'm not sure what the correct way to handle this situation is. It's frustrating because there was a second student who had a similar entitlement during the same exam, and they read my message and took advantage of their extra time.

  • 1
    does this call platform start with "Z" and end with "OOM" ?If it does, and you are the meeting host, I believe you can save private messages in your local transcript as long as you have interacted with them (which may not be a huge help in this case, but better than nothing).
    – Z4-tier
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 18:25
  • @Z4-tier That is actually incredibly helpful to hear. Whenever I download my video lectures it shows the transcript of what was in the chat box, but I’ve never seen private messages saved. I’ll look into this.
    – Mnifldz
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


You don't have to be the person who decides what to do in this situation. Actually, there are many reasons to remove yourself from making further decisions. Take it back to the administration of your Department / University, give them a fair account of what's happened, and let them decide what to do.

  • Indeed, the student probably has a "case manager" who would be your first point of contact. Commented May 1, 2020 at 22:17

Dmitry's suggestion is an excellent one. I would like to offer another. You can explain the situation to the student and offer a few compensation options. It can be boosting grades in ratio of the lost time or another exam of similar difficulty. I fear an administrative decision might yield a negative result for the student. As far as I am concerned, the student should not be in a disadvantage when it is not their fault.

  • Not that it was necessarily OP's fault either; this sounds like a textbook communications breakdown.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 11:52
  • @wizzwizz4, I didn't mean to imply it was OP's fault. It probably is the fault of whoever informed OP late that OP is responsible for accommodations. Commented May 2, 2020 at 13:21
  • 2
    It’s actually nobody’s fault. I knew about my responsibility far in advance of the exam; this situation really just was a communication breakdown.
    – Mnifldz
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 19:11

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