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Update on Stanford Travel Policy

Categories: Research, Travel

Last modified on

As Stanford prepares for a phased re-opening of campus, the university has identified four factors it will consider to determine whether and when travel can recommence: 1) the threat that the COVID-19 poses to the traveler; 2) the likelihood of the traveler being infected: 3) the vulnerability and potential impact to the Stanford community related to new and undetected infections arising from return travelers; and 4) the vulnerability and potential impact of the Stanford traveler on the population at the site(s) to which they are traveling.

Given the current state of affairs, all university-sponsored travel will remain suspended until at least September 1, 2020. After this date, the university will re-consider the permissibility of travel on a limited basis if and when the CDC Travel Advisory is reduced to Level 2, and the minimum following conditions have been met:

  • The number of confirmed cases are declining and transmission rates remain low;
  • Robust testing, contact tracing, and symptom tracking is widely available;
  • Self-isolation requirements on the Stanford campus and RWC campus and at travel destinations do not impede essential in-person job functions; and
  • Travel security restrictions have been lifted to ensure travelers may return immediately if necessary.

Travelers must be aware that while cases may be declining at Stanford or at the destination, other differing conditions may exist, e.g., robust testing, contact tracing and symptom tracking. All of these considerations, as well as differing entry conditions, must be evaluated before the beginning of travel.

In a limited number of circumstances exceptions for research-related travel may be approved prior to September 1, 2020 if the research satisfies one these conditions:

  1. The travel is directly related to research or other functions that support the global response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic;
  2. The travel is necessary to complete essential research, defined as either critical research that could not otherwise be repeated or replaced, even at great inconvenience, or research that cannot be performed remotely and is necessary for a subject’s health and/or well-being (see further information from the Research Continuity Team and the Institutional Review Board); and/or,
  3. The travel is in support of a critical University research/scholarship function that cannot be deferred or accomplished remotely.

In an effort to mitigate COVID-19’s budgetary impact, the university is suspending all business-class travel until further notice, unless the traveler has a medical exemption on file or been approved by the Dean or unit VP or their designee.

In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that the university’s ability to exercise its duty of care responsibilities requires a centralized ecosystem that can proactively leverage booking data to assess and mitigate emerging risks as well as locate travelers in an emergency. The ability to maintain traveler information within an infrastructure that is easily accessible, reliable and up-to-date is critical to providing robust and timely support, including necessary medical and security services. Therefore, reimbursement for travel will only occur when it is booked through one of the travel agents [1] available through Stanford Travel.

It is expected that restrictions on travel will persist well into 2021, or until the threats posed to travelers and the community have decreased or adequately mitigated. The matrix found here describes the anticipated conditions during each phase of restarting travel. Consistent with the university’s approach to re-opening campus, these proposed phases are not time-bound, and are dependent on public health conditions and responsiveness. It also should be observed that travel restrictions may be relaxed or tightened at any time depending upon changing public health conditions.

The university understands the impact that travel restrictions will have on our mission to advance education and research, and will closely monitor the travel landscape with consideration to our mission.

1 There are four travel agents: Casto, Egencia, United Corporate Direct, and Anthony Travel (used exclusively for Athletics).