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Important update: Travel and event guidance

NOTE: This is a message that was sent to the University community in March. For the latest travel guidance, visit the University’s travel page.

To the University of Rochester Community:

The University has been monitoring the spread of the novel coronavirus since January, with faculty and staff experts on the Coronavirus University Response Team (CURT) working to evaluate the many impacts this virus may have on the University, its people, and its programs. Currently, the risk to our campus and the region remains low, but today Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York, and we know the situation here could change quickly. We will continue to communicate regularly with you and keep the Coronavirus Update website current in order to keep you informed.

We recognize that there is a great deal of uncertainty and concern regarding this virus. The most timely and accurate information is available on the CDC website. We would encourage you to seek information from credible sources; inaccurate information is being circulated on social media and elsewhere. If you have questions about this situation for which you cannot find an answer, please submit them via the form on the University’s update website. We are regularly monitoring submissions and will have the appropriate person or office respond to you quickly. And if you are experiencing anxiety or stress about this situation—or know others who are—the University has a variety of resources to provide advice and support.

Given the rapidly changing number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, the President’s Senior Leadership Group (SLG) met yesterday to evaluate the University’s position relative to domestic and international travel and to University-sponsored events. In an effort to try to limit the introduction of COVID-19 into our environment, to ensure business continuity that could be disrupted due to mandatory quarantines, and to protect the health and safety of our community, we have decided that beginning immediately and continuing at least to April 15, all University-related international travel should be restricted and domestic travel should be strongly discouraged.

In addition, we are restricting campus or campus-sponsored events to 100 participants or fewer—not including classes—and encouraging members of the community to find alternative ways to conduct business, for example, through videoconferencing. Details on these decisions can be found below.

We owe thanks to our many staff, faculty, and Medical Center colleagues who are working tirelessly to anticipate and prepare for the impacts of novel coronavirus at the University. We recognize that the newly-developed guidance described below may have negative impacts on some academic and research programs underway or on upcoming planned events, but we made these decisions with the best interests of the University community in mind. We appreciate your consideration and your partnership as we work together to keep our campus healthy and to support our community.


Sarah C. Mangelsdorf

Robert L. Clark

Mark B. Taubman, M.D.
CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center

Guidance on travel and events (March 7, 2020) 

With approval of University senior leadership and the Coronavirus University Response Team (CURT), the following University travel and campus event guidance is in effect now through April 15. This date may change as we learn more about the spread of the outbreak.


Note for ALL travelers: If you do travel, please be aware that given the rapid pace of the spread of this virus, you may find yourself in a location where travel becomes restricted only after you arrive at your destination. So there is a possibility you will be required to enter into quarantine for 14 days, preferably at your permanent home residence, upon your return to the U.S. (or, if you are already in the U.S., to Rochester), before being able to return to school or work. The most current information about restricted travel can be found on the CDC website, and we urge anyone who is considering travel to consult this site regularly.

  • International travel — University-sponsored and -supported: The University is extending its current CDC3 travel restriction to include all international destinations through April 15. This new policy may affect planned programs and research in progress, so exceptions may be considered in rare cases. Faculty or staff members who believe they have a mission-critical need to travel internationally may apply for a travel waiver in writing to the provost and, in the case of the Medical Center, the CEO of URMC by submitting a request to
    Please note: No waivers will be granted for undergraduate students, although University-sponsored and -supported trips previously approved by the Travel Review Committee may go forward as planned.
  • International travel — personal: The University strongly recommends against personal travel out of the country, given the rapidly changing situation and unpredictability of possible quarantines upon return to the U.S.
  • Domestic travel — University-sponsored and -supported: In general, the University is recommending against any new University-sponsored or -supported domestic travel, and we are encouraging the use of alternate means of conducting business, such as teleconferencing. However, we understand that certain plans may be difficult to change or may be essential to conducting University business and/or official activity. You should discuss any upcoming domestic travel plans with your manager, and we are asking all supervisors to be sensitive to the personal preferences of University travelers if circumstances may require travel.
  • Domestic travel — personal: Students, faculty, and staff should consider the health risks and travel advisories associated with their destination and travel before making plans or reservations, recognizing that the status of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. continues to evolve.
  • My flight/conference/meeting/event was canceled. Can I get a reimbursement? The University’s Accounts Payable team has developed a FAQ for faculty, staff, post-docs, and graduate students who may incur business-related travel expenses for canceled events. The FAQ is available here on the University Coronavirus Update website.


  • On-campus meetings, events, athletics: Any in-person event on the University campus must be limited to 50 participants or less, or it must be canceled, postponed, or conducted virtually. This guidance does not apply to classes or colloquia where the attendees are members of the University community. Musical, theatrical, or dance rehearsals or performances where the anticipated audience is more than 50 members of the public should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with the relevant dean or director. Athletic contests where the anticipated number of spectators is more than 50 should be prepared to limit access.
  • Off-campus meetings, events, athletics: University-sponsored events that are planned off campus must also be limited to no more than 50 participants, or they must be canceled, postponed, or conducted virtually. Many peer institutions have imposed similar restrictions for their events for the time being.

* Note: This guidance was updated on March 16, 2020 to reflect a state-wide ban on gatherings of more than 50 people announced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.


  • Campus visit days; Commencement; other upcoming events: We are currently evaluating the potential impacts of events planned for after April 15. At this time, there are no plans to curtail any of these or other upcoming events, but individual units may wish to develop scenarios for the possibility of cancelation or curtailment. The CURT can provide guidance to school, department, and unit leaders who may wish to develop alternate plans.
  • Alternative work arrangements/working from home: Representatives from Finance and Administration, Human Resources, and ITS are developing plans and procedures in case non-essential personnel are asked to work from home. We expect guidance on this issue soon.


  • Students currently abroad in non-CDC 3 classified countries may stay in their respective programs, but also have the option of returning home if they wish to do so. If students wish to return home, they should contact the Center for Education Abroad at or (585) 275-7532.
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