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Health and Safety

Updated travel guidelines for students, faculty, staff, and parents

Updated November 19, 2020

In recent days, New York State has changed its travel and quarantine guidance for individuals coming from out of state. In response to this, the Coronavirus University Restart Team (CURT) has evaluated what this new information means for University faculty, staff, students and parents, and is providing updated University travel guidance effective for the remainder of the fall semester.

Of note, New York State has done away with its restricted states list as part of its new approach.

Faculty and staff (non-URMC)

Faculty and staff embarking on personal/vacation travel out of state should closely follow New York State’s recent guidance for returning to Rochester.

For faculty and staff University-related travel (business/work/research/study), the University is treating all of the 49 outside states the same; New York State’s guidance has a carve-out exception for its commuter states (Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey), but the University is treating all outside states the same with no carve-out for University-related travel.

Now, instead of completing a full 14-day quarantine, individuals traveling to and from another state or a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 country can take a COVID test within three days prior to their return to Rochester, and on day four or later following their return. A quarantine is required until both tests are negative, and then it can end. If the travel is related to approved University business travel, the cost of the first test can be reimbursed as a valid University business expense. A receipt for the out-of-pocket cost incurred for the test can be submitted along with the other typical travel receipts (meals, hotel, etc.) when individuals complete their expense reimbursement report upon return from their business trip. The University will not reimburse any tests related to personal travel.

Whether it’s a four-day quarantine or a 14-day quarantine, non-essential employees need to confirm with their manager or department head the ability to work from home during this time. If unable to work from home and the travel was for personal/vacation purposes, the quarantine time will be unpaid leave, according to New York State. If the travel was University-related and there is no ability to work from home, the quarantine time is considered paid sick leave. All of this guidance requires advance communication between an employee and manager to pre-determine the plan for returning. For full HR policy guidance, see this University policy.

As a reminder, through at least December 2020, the University continues to restrict University-related (business/work/research/study) domestic travel greater than 100 miles from campus, or travel that requires an overnight stay. University-related travel that is considered essential may take place with approval by a Cabinet-level officer and after consultation with the director of global travel risk management (when international). To submit a request for essential travel, log into Workday (NetID required), search “Spend Authorization,” and complete the application. This will route essential travel requests to the appropriate approvers. Additional information is available on the Business Expense and Travel Reimbursement website.

URMC faculty and staff

URMC faculty and staff need to continue to follow existing processes—the new New York travel guidance does not alter the process URMC faculty and staff must follow to return to work after travel:

  • Contact Employee Health at least 24 hours prior to returning to New York to (1) arrange for a COVID PCR test within 24 hours of return, and (2) enroll in the monitoring chat bot, which requires twice daily temperature measurement and symptom checks.
  • URMC employees may be able to return to work as long as they:
    • Remain asymptomatic
    • Adhere to universal masking
    • Complete their Dr. Chat Bot monitoring twice daily for 14 days

If URMC faculty and staff want to shorten the length of the 14-day quarantine outside of work, they can arrange to complete the two tests outlined by New York State. Employee Health cannot arrange for this additional testing.  But health care staff must continue to comply with requirements for essential workers, including testing within 24 hours of return to New York state.

URMC faculty and staff need to continue to follow existing processes when personal travel is taken outside of New York for more than 24 hours, excluding the five states that share a border with New York (NJ, MA, PA, CT, and VT).  These processes align with the New York travel guidance issued last week as it applies to essential workers. Additionally, costs for any tests conducted due to personal travel will be billed to insurance; note that at this time, most insurers are not paying for such asymptomatic testing.

All other essential employees

The University has generally considered essential staff as those who work in areas including health care, public safety, facilities, dining services, residential life, and in some research facilities who are responsible for continuing operations at the University. If you believe you are an essential employee and are planning on traveling out of state, please speak with your manager or department head about your obligations.

Essential employees who have traveled out of state must adhere to current quarantine procedures, but are also able to continue reporting to work when not in self-quarantine. These employees need to take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their return to New York.

Undergraduate students

Students attending classes and/or residing on campus need to continue to remain in Rochester (within 100 miles) for the duration of the fall in-person semester, and throughout Winter Stay if not departing. If students must depart Rochester, they need to either quarantine for the full 14 days, or take a COVID test within three days prior to their return to Rochester, and on day four or later following their return. They need to quarantine until both tests are negative. There is no option for students to quarantine on campus if this travel is undertaken, nor is University Health Service (UHS) able to accommodate a student’s testing needs.

Graduate students

Graduate students attending in-person classes and living in University housing should remain in Rochester for the duration of the fall in-person semester.  If graduate students depart Rochester for personal travel reasons, they should follow New York State’s recent guidance for returning to Rochester; graduate students who are considered essential employees due to their medical or nursing studies should follow the URMC Faculty and Staff guidance on testing and quarantining.  If personal travel is taken, graduate students living in University housing can contact University Health Service (UHS) for COVID testing upon returning.

International travel for students and scholars

For students and scholars considering travel internationally, please review the entry requirements of the destination and considerations for an intended return to the US. For instance, some countries now require evidence of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival. If your visa has expired, your return trip could be delayed as many US Consular offices remain closed or with limited services available (look up visa wait times by location). Additionally, travelers from certain areas are subject to US entry restrictions, which can change with little notice (see State Department’s summary of coronavirus travel proclamations and recent national interest exceptions). The decision to travel internationally always carries some risk and is more complex during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consult the International Services Office (ISO) for assistance before finalizing travel plans.

Parents picking up students at Thanksgiving Break

Parents traveling from outside of New York State to pick up their student from campus for the Thanksgiving break do not need to be tested or quarantine if only staying in-state for 24 hours or less. However, it’s strongly recommended that they complete New York State’s Traveler Health Form. Parents must also observe social distancing, wear masks, wash their hands often and use sanitizer.  Only one family member may enter the building at a time to assist with moving out.

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