It’s up to you! UMass Lowell has no formal policy about whether children are allowed in our classrooms. In other words, the university does not prohibit you from welcoming children into the classroom. It’s up to your professional judgment. Many professors on our campus allow children to come to class when students are unable to find childcare for a particular class session. Children typically read, color or play on their electronic devices while the student participates in class.
One of my students will be giving birth during the semester. How can I be supportive?
It is important not to assume that a student is pregnant or will give birth during the semester. Faculty should wait until the student initiates a conversation about their pregnancy or impending due date.
If you are approached by a student who tells you that they are going to give birth that semester, let them know that they are protected by Title IX. They have every right to remain in their classes and complete their education.
Professors must excuse any absences related to pregnancy or childbirth just as they would for a medical emergency.
If pregnant students want further assistance, they may contact UMass Lowell Title IX coordinators who will work directly with them to be sure different aspects of their experience are dealt with properly. Where classes are concerned, the Title IX Coordinator may reach out to you in order to come up with a plan for helping students finish classes, take incompletes, or work remotely. It really depends on when the birth occurs and the feasibility of being successful in the courses.
The university doesn’t currently have a temporary medical leave policy but we work to help the student through the issues that may come up.
What else can I do to support students who are pregnant or parenting?
UMass Lowell is committed to creating a family-friendly campus. Anything you do to make students who are pregnant and/or parenting feel welcome will help us to achieve this. Here are some ideas:
Helpful Resources for Faculty
The National Center for Student Parent Programs’ website features recent research on university initiatives to support parenting students. The Center holds an annual conference for professional development of staff and faculty who want to be more supportive.
The National Women’s Law Center publishes research reports, Title IX guidelines, and other information about the needs and rights of pregnant and parenting students in school.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s "Student Parent Success Initiative" aims to publish research and policy recommendations regarding student parents in higher education.
Supporting Single Parents International aims to support and advocate for widows, single-parents and their children.
Sociologist Jullian M. Duquaine-Watson’s award-winning book "Mothering by Degrees: Single Mothers and the Pursuit of Postsecondary Education," "shows how single mothers pursuing college degrees must navigate a difficult course as they attempt to reconcile their identities as single moms, college students, and in many cases, employees. They also negotiate a balance between what they think a good mother should be, and what society is telling them, and how that affects their choices to go to college, and whether to stay in college or not."