Guidance for University Travel (1/14/21)
Travel during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can pose a high-risk for acquiring the infection and spreading it to others. Our university leaders are monitoring the situation across the United States, paying attention to areas with higher rates of viral transmission. USF World is monitoring the worldwide impact of COVID-19 on a daily basis. Data indicate that the spread of COVID-19 is asynchronous, with some countries and locations successfully managing impacts while others are struggling to cope. The situation remains fluid and COVID-19 hot spots will ebb and flow as localities manage public safety differently.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises to avoid nonessential international travel and has issued country-specific advisories for most countries across the world and continues to discourage domestic travel. In addition, because of the dynamic situation worldwide, countries have placed restrictions on travel entry, and these can change without notice. Given the current CDC travel recommendations, outbound university-related international travel remains prohibited at this time.
There are also restrictions in place on foreign nationals arriving from Brazil, China, Iran, the European Union, and the United Kingdom; inbound mobility from these locations (by foreign nationals) is limited to specific exemptions which now include student travelers. All returning travelers from international destinations may be required to self-isolate for 14 days and, if directed to do so must be COVID-19 symptom free for 14 days and, if requested, test negative for the virus prior to returning to campus. Inbound international mobility is dependent upon U.S., State of Florida, and overseas country border closures/regulations.
Phase I will begin the reopening of campus operations and is intended to be limited in duration. During Phase I the current prohibition on any university-sponsored travel, whether international or domestic remains in effect. Any personal travel remains strongly discouraged; in emergency situations where travel is unavoidable faculty and staff should discuss their plans with their unit or departmental leadership to determine whether self-quarantine and/or COVID-19 testing will be required and should make contingency plans (i.e. working remotely or taking annual leave) should self-isolation be necessary upon their return.
Travel in Phase II of USF Operations (Current Phase)
Phase II will allow for limited increased campus activity. However, the current prohibition on any university-sponsored travel, whether international or domestic remains in effect. Any personal travel remains strongly discouraged; in emergency situations where travel is unavoidable faculty and staff should discuss their plans with their unit or departmental leadership to determine whether self-quarantine and/or COVID-19 testing will be required and should make contingency plans (i.e. working remotely or taking annual leave) should self-isolation be necessary upon their return.
Requests for travel relating to essential research purposes are being reviewed by the COVID-19 Task Force and can be submitted here. If an individual travel request is approved by the COVID-19 Task Force, additional approvals are then required from the relevant Dean and Vice President in order to be reimbursed for the travel. If you are a student wishing to request an exception or anyone having a question, please write to GlobalTravel@usf.edu.
When conditions allow for a move into Phase III, then conditions should support all university-related domestic travel. International travel will remain subject to review and approval. It must be noted however, that because the situation is fluid, domestic travel could be restricted at any time. In addition, if a traveler is returning from a location in the United States that has had a resurgence of cases, the traveler may be asked to self-isolate and submit to COVID-19 testing and test negative before returning to work or to the classroom.
USF World has a robust set of policies, procedures, and resources to support our international travelers. All USF-related international travel is required to be registered, reviewed, approved, and supported. We have in place 24/7 International Risk and Security Response Protocols that include a thorough review of travel before approval; a staffed 24/7 international assistance line; a provider of blanket international health insurance, evacuation insurance and travel assistance; and a proven working relationship with USDOS.
Due to the asynchronous impact of the pandemic worldwide, with some international locations more successfully managing the spread of the virus than others, our approach will be to review outbound and inbound international travel that balances safety and public health concerns with the professional and academic needs of the University and its faculty, staff and students within the context of local circumstances. There will always be travel issues that are beyond our control such as localized border closures, airline limitations, visa requirements, quarantine measures and such that may make travel impossible even with a lowered risk level by CDC and USDOS.
Travelers are strongly encouraged to review the COVID-19 situation in the planned destination and to not travel to locations where COVID-19 is actively spreading.
Essential university-related international travel is permissible under the following conditions:
Essential international travel requests will be reviewed and authorized on a case by case basis following USF International Travel Authority Policy #10-507.
All essential student related international travel must be registered with EAO or USF Health and must be authorized by USF World. If the country or location is listed by USDOS at a Level 4 risk level and/or the location is listed by the CDC at a Level 3, the travel will not be authorized. If the country or location is listed by USDOS at a Level 3 risk level and/or the location is listed by the CDC at a Level 2, the travel must additionally be reviewed and recommended for approval by the USF World Global Risk Assessment Committee.
All essential international business travel must obtain approval and authorization at the collegiate/departmental level with the approval of the appropriate Dean/Director and Vice President. If the country or location is listed by USDOS at a Level 4 risk level and/or the location is listed by the CDC at a Level 3, the travel will not be authorized.
Essential travel (domestic and international) must meet three requirements for consideration:
- The purpose of the travel cannot be accomplished remotely
- The travel is time sensitive – the purpose of the travel cannot be accomplished at a later date (e.g. spring/summer semester)
- The travel is required for the traveler to meet degree/academic requirements or the requirements associated with a grant, contract, award, or scholarship. For example, credit bearing activities associated with timely graduation or degree progression; activities required by a funded research grant, a Fulbright award, or other contractual obligations.
Note: there will be no non-credit bearing student-related travel programs outside the United States during Phase III. Semester exchange and affiliate study abroad programs for the fall semester must be approved as described above.
All returning travelers from international destinations may be required to self-isolate for 14 days and, if directed to do so must be COVID-19 symptom free for 14 days and, if requested, test negative for the virus prior to returning to campus.
All university-related travel (domestic and international) is allowed under standard policies and procedures, with the understanding that as the situation is fluid, any travel could result in difficulties securing return travel (in the case of international travel) and could result in the need to self-isolate and be tested upon return.