Travel

Travel increases an individual’s chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.

The following guidelines are provided to balance the need for some travel and the obligation to manage and mitigate the risks of this travel.

References

National Travel Notices

The CDC has issued a Travel Health Notices for international travel due to widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19. COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all 50 states, and the situation is constantly changing. Acknowledging these risks, the university recognizes that some travel is required to further the mission and critical work of USU. Members of our campus community may also need to travel for personal reasons.

USU Policies

These guidelines supplement but do not replace or supersede USU Policy 515: Travel and USU Policy 536: International Travel. Deans and vice presidents may adopt more stringent requirements and/or distribute additional guidelines for travelers in their units.

Terms Defined

 
Travel
For purposes of this guidance, travel includes journeying from your local community to another community (i.e., county) but does not include commuting to and from work or moving between counties to carry out everyday activities or standard errands.
 
Essential Travel
Travel that is required to preserve a university program or interest (such as an ongoing research program) and cannot be postponed without risking certain harm to or loss of the program or interest.
 
High-risk Locations
A location designated by the CDC with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice and/or locations (counties) with a per capita COVID-19 case load greater than 1 in 100.

General Guidelines

Restrictions

For all travel, USU recommends limiting out-of-state travel, avoiding travel to high-risk locations, and following CDC guidelines when a person does travel.

For business travel, nonessential travel to international locations is prohibited and supervisors must closely scrutinize nonessential travel to domestic locations. These restrictions will remain in place unless the state of Utah returns to the “red-high risk” phase, during which all travel would be suspended.

Evaluate Travel Risks

Risk of Activities

Travelers and their supervisors should also consider the risks that may be associated with activities in which a traveler may participate at the distant location. One or more of the following factors add additional risk to travel. The traveler and supervisor should consider whether the traveler:

  • Will attend any large gatherings of 50 people or more.
  • Will engage in any activities where they are unable to social distance (excluding air or vehicle travel).
  • Is a person with a high risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
  • Will be interacting with persons with a high risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
  • Will interact with or attend events with persons from various locations, including high-risk locations.

Risk Associated With Locations

Travelers and their supervisors must investigate the COVID-19 risk for all locations visited during the proposed trip.

Travelers and their supervisors should consider carefully infection rate trends where information about such trends is available from a reputable source. If information is unavailable, please contact USU Risk Management to discuss how to evaluate the risks associated with that location.  Business travel to high-risk locations is discouraged. Helpful resources for infection rate trends include:

Mitigate Travel Risks

If an employee or student travels, the traveler must do all they can to mitigate the risks of travel to both them personally as well as to the other members of the USU community. Among other things, the following procedures and mitigations are required.

Additional Information Required for Travel Authorization

For USU-sponsored trips, all travelers must complete a Travel Authorization (TA) as early as possible, preferably at least one-week prior to travel. Within the TA form, the traveler will be required to answer supplemental questions:

  • Describe the destination as well as any stops during the journey.
  • Confirm that the traveler has discussed with their supervisor the risks associated with COVID-19 in their travel location(s) and that they agree the trip is necessary. For students on USU-sponsored trips, the supervisor would be at the department head or associate vice president level.
  • Confirm that the traveler and supervisor have a contingency plan in case the traveler is required to quarantine after returning home.
  • If the employee will be traveling with others (faculty, staff, or students), then the employee must secure written authorization that affirms that their supervisor approved the group’s plan to avoid exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.  This authorization should be sensitive to the mode of transportation and the number of people traveling together. 

Follow Public Health Guidance

Travelers are strongly encouraged to follow the CDC’s guidance for travelers, which includes, but is not limited to: practicing social distancing, wearing a face covering, washing hands frequently, and using drive-throughs and curbside service whenever possible.

Travelers must follow state and local travel restrictions. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or local health department at the departure location, along the travel route, and at the planned destination. While a person is traveling, it is possible a state or local government may put into place travel restrictions, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures. Travelers should regularly check for updates as they travel. 

Quarantine Upon Return

If the traveler goes to a high-risk location or if, during travel, the traveler participates in activities where social distancing was not maintained, then the traveler may be required to quarantine for 14 days after the trip concludes. The requirement to quarantine will be evaluated and determined by the supervisor upon the traveler’s return based on the most up-to-date information at the time.

As the number of COVID-19 cases and transmission trends change daily, it is possible that a traveler may be required to quarantine if locations they visited experience a substantial increase in cases within 14 days of their return from travel.

Employees who are required to quarantine due to travel should telework during this period, if possible. If an employee’s position does not allow for telework, the supervisor and employee should discuss availability of COVID-19 leave or other USU leave to cover this time away from work.

Regardless if a traveler quarantines upon return, all traveler should self-monitor on a daily basis for COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14 days after returning from travel.

Complete Travel Questionnaire

All travelers (faculty, staff, and students), regardless of the nature or purpose of their trip, will be asked upon the completion of their travel to complete a Travel Questionnaire that documents the places they visited and the duration of their stay in each location. USU Risk Management and/or Emergency Management will maintain a database of such travel. Data will be deleted after 30 days.

Create a Contingency Plan

Prior to submitting a travel authorization, the traveler must develop a contingency plan for interruptions to travel, the potential of being stranded in a distant location, and the potential for becoming ill while traveling.

It is also the responsibility of the traveler to plan contingencies for unexpected absences and to communicate with those affected by such absences prior to, and upon return from, traveling.

Guidance Based on Travel Destination

Utah: In-State Travel

Business Travel

If the trip is sponsored by USU, then the employee must submit a Travel Authorization.

Personal Travel

If the trip is personal in nature, then the employee should inform their supervisor if the trip includes high-risk locations. This will allow the traveler and supervisor to develop a contingency plan in case the traveler is required to quarantine after returning home.

Domestic: Out-of-State Travel

Business Travel

If the trip is sponsored by USU, then the employee must submit a Travel Authorization.

Personal Travel

Travelers should be aware of any travel restrictions in the areas to where they plan to travel, including restrictions on travelers coming from Utah. If the trip is personal in nature, then approval of the traveler’s supervisor would not be required. However, the traveler should notify the supervisor in advance of the trip so that the traveler and supervisor can develop a contingency plan in case the traveler is required to quarantine after returning home. If a USU employee will make a trip that is personal in nature while using USU accrued leave, then the traveler will be asked to complete the Travel Questionnaire after the conclusion of their trip.

International Travel

Business Travel

Consistent with CDC guidance, nonessential international business travel is prohibited. USU will monitor CDC and Department of State information and loosen restrictions consistent with the guidance provided by the CDC and/or State Department.

  • Consistent with CDC guidelines, if an employee travels internationally, the traveler must quarantine for 14 days upon return to the United States.
  • The traveler must also be aware that conditions may change with little warning, and the traveler may find that completing the journey may prove more difficult than anticipated. The university may be limited in its ability to and will not centrally fund expenses related to repatriating the traveler to the United States.
  • If the trip is sponsored by USU, then the employee must submit a Travel Authorization. Consistent with USU Policy 536, the employee must also register their travel in the university’s International Travel Registry.

Personal Travel

Personal international travel is highly discouraged. While supervisory approval is not required, an employee traveling internationally should notify the supervisor in advance of the trip so that the traveler and supervisor can develop a contingency plan for the employee to quarantine after returning home.

Guidelines for Student Travel

USU requests that students who travel to high-risk locations for any reason quarantine for 14 days after returning home. Students should consult with the instructors of their courses regarding if/how they would accommodate their quarantine.

If the student travel is university-sponsored, then the sponsoring unit must make the student aware of the COVID-19 risks associated with travel, including the potential need to quarantine for 14 days after returning home. Students should consult with the instructors of their courses regarding if/how they would accommodate their quarantine.

Guidelines for USU-Sponsored Guests

A pre-travel approval process (at the department level) must be completed before visitors are formally invited to visit campus. 

The pre-travel approval process will need additional administration (dean/vice president) approval for guests traveling from international locations.