5.5 Gathering Standards
PathwayConnect students are expected to attend all gatherings during the semester in person. Gathering via Skype, phone, or similar means is not permitted. Students should plan their schedule accordingly and make any necessary arrangements to attend each gathering.
Attendance for course gatherings is self-reported and comprises a significant portion of a student’s overall course grade. If illness or other temporary issue arises and a student does not attend a gathering, the student’s grade will be negatively impacted. (See 5.5.3 Gathering Cancellations, Excusals, and Waivers for further details). Specific information regarding how attendance impacts grades may be found within each of the academic courses. Students should carefully consult the grading policy contained in their course syllabus to determine how heavily gathering attendance will weigh in to their final grade.
Service missionaries who identify a discrepancy between a student’s reported attendance and his/her actual attendance should discuss the alleged discrepancy with the student. If further action is needed, missionaries may contact BYU-Pathway Support. Institute attendance is managed by each local institute.
Students who are traveling and need to attend a gathering at another PathwayConnect location should coordinate the visit through their missionaries. Students should direct any attendance-related questions to their online instructors or their institute instructor for institute courses.
Service missionaries are expected to attend all gatherings and are also encouraged to attend institute gatherings (where applicable).
On the rare occasion that missionaries must be absent, they should schedule a substitute well in advance. Potential substitutes could include other local or previous service missionaries, the institute instructor, a former student, or other individuals who are actively involved in the program. Please contact their BYU-Pathway area manager with questions.
Missionaries play a key role in establishing a spiritual environment wherein the Holy Ghost can minister. This involves minimizing potential distractions. It is recommended that students do not bring their children, family members, friends, or other visitors with them to the weekly gatherings.
Individuals who are interested in observing a PathwayConnect gathering prior to applying for admission into the program are always welcome, but such visits should be scheduled through the service missionaries when possible.
Additionally, local priesthood/auxiliary leaders; BYU-Idaho faculty; program administrators; and other employees of the Church, Seminaries & Institutes, and BYU-Idaho are welcome at PathwayConnect gatherings. They can schedule visits by contacting BYU-Pathway Support.
In very rare instances, service missionaries may need to cancel a gathering due to extreme weather, unsafe situations, or other emergencies. Missionaries should notify their BYU-Pathway area manager if such an emergency occurs.
Service missionaries should notify all students in advance, if possible, of any gathering cancellations. Students will not lose attendance points for approved gathering cancellations. In such an event, the student completes the attendance report for the week and marks that the gathering was canceled by the missionary. All other assignments for that week must still be completed.
Missionaries at international sites may cancel gatherings that fall on local national holidays.
Online course instructors may excuse a student who missed a gathering in the event of rare, extenuating circumstances, as determined by the instructor. These circumstances include a natural disaster, death in the family, medical emergency, birth of a child, or another serious or unsafe situation. If a student needs to ask for more than three such excusals, they should consult with BYU-Pathway Support to discuss their circumstances.
There are some rare occasions where BYU-Pathway Support may grant a waiver for some or all of a student’s gatherings. Students may only receive a gathering waiver during one semester. First-semester students do not receive gathering waivers. When a student is granted a gathering waiver, BYU-Pathway Worldwide will notify Online Instruction so they can notify the instructor to excuse the affected gatherings. Students should also send a copy of the gathering waiver to their instructors. Students will be expected to complete all assignments normally completed at the gathering.
*L students receiving a gathering waiver are still expected to complete the peer discussion appointment. This can be done with anyone of their choosing.
PathwayConnect generally follows the BYU-Idaho academic calendar, which includes the observance of certain U.S. national and local holidays. Some of these holidays may fall on the same day as gatherings on a permanent or occasional basis and will impact the PathwayConnect gathering, as well as require instructors to modify some assignment deadlines for the week. U.S. holidays that are observed on other days of the week should not have any impact on PathwayConnect courses, though some instructors may choose to allow assignments to be submitted on a later date. BYU-Pathway area managers will notify missionaries and students of holidays that may impact the gathering during each semester. Instructors will be messaged prior to major US holidays. These holidays should be observed as follows:
- U.S. Independence Day – If Independence Day falls on the day of the gathering:
- Domestic gatherings held on independence Day will be canceled.
- International virtual gatherings hosted by domestic missionaries held on Independence Day should be hosted by a lead student if the missionaries cannot host.
- Pioneer Day – If Pioneer Day falls on the day of the gathering:
- Domestic gatherings held on Pioneer Day in Utah and Rexburg, Idaho, will be canceled.
- Virtual gatherings hosted by missionaries in Utah and Rexburg, Idaho, held on Pioneer Day should be hosted by a lead student if the missionaries cannot host.
- Halloween – If Halloween falls on the night of the gathering:
- Domestic in-person gatherings held on Halloween night will be canceled.
- International virtual gatherings hosted by domestic missionaries held on Halloween night should be hosted by a lead student if the missionaries cannot host.
- U.S. Thanksgiving – For gatherings held during the week of Thanksgiving (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday):
- Gatherings in the United States held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be canceled.
- Virtual gatherings attended by students outside the United States but hosted by missionaries in the United States held on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, should be hosted by a lead student if the missionaries cannot host.
- International holidays – The decision to cancel the gathering in specific areas on international holidays will be determined by BYU-Pathway area managers.
Virtual groups with both domestic and international students should be sensitive to all local holidays and allow students to be excused when appropriate.
International locations will normally cancel the gathering during official holidays, as noted above; however, they have the flexibility to gather on such holidays if they need to make up a gathering due to a prior or expected cancellation (see 5.5.3 Gathering Cancellations).