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COVID-19 Essential Travel Guidance

Currently, the University is in Phase 1 with travel prohibited other than travel that is deemed essential.

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University prohibited all university-related domestic and international travel. The University Travel Task Force (UTTF) was commissioned by the Return Oversight Committee in August 2020 to develop guidelines for the resumption of university-related travel and a process for review and approval of travel deemed essential to the operations of the University. These guidelines apply to travel for Drexel University, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University Online and API.

Guiding Principles for the University Travel Task Force

  • Recommendations will be informed by public health protocols, including recommendations from the Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The University Travel Task Force (UTTF) will solicit information and feedback from stakeholders across the University to develop recommendations. 
  • UTTF recommendations will prioritize the safety of Drexel travelers while ensuring the continuation of essential University business functions. 
  • UTFF will communicate recommendations and information to the University community.
  • UTTF will work within University recommendations & parameters.

What Constitutes "Essential Travel"

Currently, the University is in Phase 1 with travel prohibited; however, we recognize  that there may be situations in which University-related travel is necessary and cannot be postponed, and as such may be deemed as "essential travel."

ESSENTIAL TRAVEL CATEGORIES

Academic: student travel that is for an academic purpose that is necessary and cannot be postponed or handled remotely (i.e., for graduation, academic progress, research experience, etc.).

Research: travel required for a professional purpose that is necessary and cannot be postponed or handled remotely. Examples include travel that:

  • Is necessary to preserve the safety/well-being of research subjects and/or participants;
  • Preserves the continuity of research that cannot be repeated, replaced or performed remotely; and/or
  • Advances critical research in the national or global interest.

University Business: travel that is critical to the core educational and business functions of the University presently or for the continuation of those core functions in the future.

The resumption of University-related travel is occurring in four phases, outlined below.

UNIVERSITY-RELATED TRAVEL IS IN PHASE 1.

Drexel Phases of Travel

University Phases of Travel: Text Version

Travel Category Phase 1: Travel Prohibited  Phase 2: Restricted Travel  Phase 3: Limited Travel  Phase 4: Travel Resumed 
Department of State Travel Advisory Level 4 Level 3 Level 3 or 2 Level 2 or 1 
CDC COVID-19 Travel Health Notice CDC Level 4 CDC Level 3 CDC Level 2 CDC Level 1
Faculty, Staff and PostDocs Not allowed* Not allowed*
Permitted, with necessary approvals Permitted
Graduate Students Not allowed*
Not allowed*
Permitted, with necessary approvals
Permitted
Undergraduate Students Not allowed*
Not allowed*
Permitted, with necessary approvals and guidance
Permitted (if destination is not classified as high risk)
Travel must be registered in University System N/A Required for any exceptions Required Required
Travel booked through World Travel N/A
Required for any exceptions Required Required
Waiver or Assumption of Risk Document Signed N/A
Required for any exceptions Required as appropriate Standard terms & conditions of participation apply
*As of 11/24/2020, this chart has been updated to reflect updates in the CDC advisory level ratings.

HOW TO REQUEST A COVID-19 ESSENTIAL TRAVEL EXCEPTION

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect locations differently, and travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. All University-related travel exceptions must be deemed essential and approved by the University. The process to request an Exception to Travel depends upon the length and type of travel as outlined below. Personal travel does not fall under these restrictions but is discouraged at this time.

Types of Travel

Travel Types & Exception to Travel Process: Text Version

Travel Type Review Process Supports Provided  Assumption of Risk Document Registration Required in GRAND
Local-Domestic Supervisor approval Guidance N/A Yes
Tri State (PA, NJ, DE) and region area no overnight stay Supervisor approval Guidance N/A Yes
Faculty, Staff and PostDocs ETRC review Guidance doc and customized pre-departure orientations
Yes Yes
Graduate Students ETRC review
Guidance doc and customized pre-departure orientations
Yes
Yes

FOR FACULTY, PROFESSIONAL STAFF AND GRADUATE STUDENTS WITH ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

No Overnight: Local/Domestic

For essential local or domestic travel that does not require an overnight stay:

  1. Seek approval for Essential Travel from your department head (for academic units) or supervisor (for administrative units). Your department head/supervisor must send the travel approval to: covid19travel@drexel.edu.
  2. Complete the Essential Travel Acknowledgement.
  3. Register your travel in the GRAND system.
  4. Review the Local/Regional Travel Guidance [PDF] and ensure you are adhering to the University's travel guidelines and policies.

Overnight: Domestic or International

Travel involving an overnight stay increases your risks due to COVID-19 and therefore is subject to a more involved review process. Review the overview of the essential overnight domestic or international process below.

To support the safety of Drexel travelers and the communities where you may live, work and travel, please follow these steps for any travel involving an overnight stay:

  1. Complete the Exception for Travel Request form [PDF].
  2. Review the appropriate guidance for your proposed travel: Overnight Domestic Guidelines [PDF] or International Guidelines [PDF].
  3. Seek Essential Travel approval from your dean or school designee (for academic units) or from the senior vice president/vice provost or designee (for administrative units).
  4. Submit completed request with dean/SVP sign-off to covid19travel@drexel.edu.
  5. If travel is approved, complete all pre-departure requirements, which generally includes:

Please use the Exception for Travel Request Form [PDF] if you wish to engage in any essential overnight or international travel.

Typically, completed requests will be processed within 7-10 days of receipt. Some additional information may be requested from the traveler as part of the review process.

NOTE: Content for supervisors is under development, and supervisors should check back for updates.

Overview of Essential Travel Review Process

Essential Overnight Domestic or International Process Overview

 

FOR STUDENTS

For General Students

During Phases 1 and 2 of Travel Resumption, domestic and international travel for undergraduate students is prohibited with exceptions for co-op students and students on clinical placements. Graduate students with Essential Travel should review the section above for information on local/domestic travel with no overnight stay, or overnight domestic or international travel.

For Co-op Students

Domestic Travel for Co-op Students

Travel related to domestic co-ops, including U.S. territories, is considered to be essential by the University and does not need to go through a University travel review process. All students should ensure that their co-op is registered with the Steinbright Career Development Center, and review the guidance available for domestic co-op travel [PDF].

International Travel for Co-op Students

International co-ops are currently prohibited with the exception of international students completing a co-op in their home country and living with a family member. International students who are completing their co-op in their home country should contact their co-op advisor to register their co-op, complete all requirements and review the guidance for international co-op travel [PDF].

For Clinical Practice Students

Domestic Travel for Clinical Practice Students

Travel related to domestic clinical placements is considered essential and does not need to go through a review process. All students should ensure that their clinical placements are registered with their ollege and follow all local and clinical COVID-19 guidance.

International Travel for Clinical Practice Students

International clinical placements are currently prohibited through March 2021 and subject to further review at that time.

 

Please check Drexel University's Response to Coronavirus webpage for University guidelines and updates regarding COVID-19.

Visit this page for additional information regarding the Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad.

Important Links & Documents

Documents

Links

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance should I propose my travel?

It is recommended that you begin the review process as soon as you are aware of a need to travel, but given the evolving nature of the COVID19 pandemic, the Essential Travel Review Committee will aim to review travel at 8 weeks or less before travel. Some travel may also be approved conditionally subject to a review of the case counts in the travel destination closer to the time of departure.

How long does it take to complete the full Essential Travel Review process?

The Essential Travel Review Committee aims to complete thorough reviews as quickly as possible. Generally, requests will be processed within 7-10 days of receipt of a fully complete request. All requests must be approved as essential by the appropriate Dean/SVP prior to submission. Some additional information may be requested from the traveler as part of the review process.

I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Do I still need to make a request for Essential Travel?

Yes, even if you are fully vaccinated you must submit travel for review to the Essential Travel Review Committee. While the COVID-19 vaccine provides a strong level of protection, which increases your safety in travelling, it is not 100% effective; there are still some unknowns about its effectiveness in preventing transmission of COVID-19 and its efficacy to protect against emerging viral variants. The CDC is recommending that even those who have been fully vaccinated should continue to practice all COVID-19 precautions.

Should I be concerned about new variants of the COVID-19 virus?

Yes. Viruses change constantly over time through mutations, and variants or strains that have an ecological advantage will ultimately predominate in populations. A number of new variants have emerged that appear to be more contagious. The current vaccines may not be fully protective against some of these new variants.

While these strains were first recognized in specific locations (e.g., United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and California), they are now circulating all over the globe and new variants continue to evolve. To protect yourself during travel, be sure to wear an effective mask whenever you are with people outside your immediate household and observe all physical distancing recommendations. For more information about variants, see: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html.

What is the Essential Travel Review Committee?

The Essential Travel Review Committee (ETRC) was developed by the University Travel Task Force under the oversight of the Return Oversight Committee (ROC) to review each Essential Travel Request for health and safety considerations. After a request has been reviewed, the ETRC will provide a recommendation to the Provost or EVP, whichever is appropriate. The ETRC has representation from the Offices of Research and Innovation, Global Engagement, Risk Management, General Counsel and the Dornsife School of Public Health. Additional representation and expertise may be included in the review process according to the specific nature of the proposed travel.

If my travel is related to specific research travel, must I complete the return to research process?

Yes. The return to research approval must be received from ORI prior to submitting an Essential Travel Request to the Essential Travel Review Committee. For more information, please check the Return to Research Guidance.

When will restrictions be removed?

The easing of restrictions will be informed by informed by public health protocols, including recommendations from the PA Department of Health, the US Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Does the Essential Travel Review Committee approve funding for travel?

The ETRC does not provide approval for travel funding. Its purpose is to review the travel for health and safety considerations. Decisions about funding of travel should be made by the department/unit/college prior to the review of travel.

Who gives the final approval for Drexel business-related travel?

For Non-overnight Local/Domestic, the traveler's Department Head (for academic units) or Supervisor (for administrative units) provides final approval. For travel involving an overnight stay: with input provided by the ETRC, final approvals for faculty and students come from the Provost. For postdoctoral fellows and employees, the Executive Vice President provides the final approval.

Do I have to get approval for personal travel?

The review process for travel only applies to university-related travel and not for personal travel, though the University is discouraging personal travel at this time. If you engage in personal travel, please follow all guidance provided by the PA Department of Health, the US Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Does the Essential Travel policy apply to visitors coming to Drexel?

No, the Essential Travel policy applies to outgoing travel for Drexel students, faculty and staff. If you are hosting visitors to the University, please follow the Visitor Guidance from the University Coronavirus website.