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Health and Safety

Updated travel guidance for the spring semester

Updated January 13, 2021

The Coronavirus University Restart Team (CURT) has updated the guidance for University-related travel (for faculty, staff and post docs) and personal travel (for undergraduate and graduate students) through at least June 30, 2021.

Most of the fall semester travel restrictions are remaining in place for the spring semester given the current state of COVID-19 in the Rochester area and across the country, however these guidelines may be subject to change in the coming months if the circumstances of the pandemic improve.

Find guidance relevant to you in the drop-downs below.

University-related travel (business/work/research/study) for faculty, staff and post docs will continue to be restricted until at least the conclusion of the fiscal year (June 30, 2021). This includes both domestic and international travel that is greater than 100 miles from campus. However, University-related travel that is considered essential may be approved to take place only after:

  1. First, a risk consultation provided by the Travel Security Section of Global Management (when international) and/or Environmental Health & Safety. To submit a request for an essential travel risk consultation, log into Workday (NetID required), search “Spend Authorization,” and complete the application. This will route essential travel requests to the appropriate individuals. Additional information is available on the Business Expense and Travel Reimbursement website.
  2. Second, approval from a Cabinet-level officer.

For all approved essential travel—regardless of destination or origin— the University requires individuals to follow the current New York State testing and quarantine requirements, found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory. If two COVID tests are required as part of the NYS quarantine guidance, and the travel was approved as essential, the cost of the first test may be reimbursed as a valid University business expense. Also, for University-related travel, quarantine time is considered paid sick leave if there is no ability to work from home.

Faculty, staff and post docs embarking on personal/vacation travel out of state should also closely follow New York State’s testing and quarantine requirements for returning to Rochester. If unable to work from home during a required quarantine and the travel was for personal/vacation purposes, the quarantine time will be unpaid leave, according to New York State.

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.

URMC personnel need to continue to follow existing processes for University-related domestic and international 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, staff and post docs want to shorten the length of the 14-day quarantine outside of work, they can arrange to complete the two COVID tests outlined by New York State. Employee Health cannot arrange for this additional testing. Health care staff must continue to comply with requirements for essential workers, including testing within 24 hours of return to New York state. Note, the cost for all testing related to personal travel is the responsibility of the individual, and most insurance companies are currently not paying for asymptomatic testing. More information on testing sites and insurance coverage is available here.

URMC faculty, staff and post-docs 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 as it applies to essential workers. Additionally, costs for any tests conducted due to personal travel will be billed to insurance. Again, most insurers are not paying for such asymptomatic testing at this time. More information on testing sites and insurance coverage is available here.

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. Essential employees who are planning on traveling beyond 100 miles should speak with their manager or department head about their obligations. Essential employees must adhere to NYS travel requirements 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 attending classes and/or residing on campus need to remain in Rochester (within 100 miles) for the duration of Winter Stay, as well as the in-person spring semester. If an undergraduate needs to depart campus outside of the 100-mile radius, they must appeal directly to their dean for permission to leave. If granted permission, undergraduates must follow the current NYS testing and quarantine requirements –regardless of where they traveled to/from—before returning to campus housing or being on campus for any reason. Students may be responsible for the costs associated with any required quarantine, including hotel and testing, if Whipple Park is not available or UHS does not have the capacity to provide a COVID test.

Graduate students attending classes on campus in the spring semester should remain in Rochester (within 100 miles) for the duration of the spring in-person semester. Exceptions will only be made on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the relevant graduate dean of their school. If a graduate student is granted an exemption to depart Rochester for personal travel reasons, they must follow current New York State’s testing and quarantine requirements for returning to Rochester, regardless of where they traveled to/from. If personal travel is taken, UHS may only be able to accommodate graduate students’ testing needs as their capacity allows.

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. Note: PhD students are not essential workers for purposes of NYS travel guidance and thus are subject to the NYS requirements related to travel.

Students and scholars considering travel internationally should 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 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.

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