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Travel can increase the risk of travelers’ exposure to COVID-19 as well as subsequent spread to the community.  Consequently, Tufts is continuing its broad essential-only travel policy throughout the summer, with exceptions to accommodate travel for research and scholarly needs in limited circumstances only. Please consult Tufts’ updated travel policy from March 10, 2021 and the FAQs below for restrictions and procedures related to travel. This policy updates the travel policy dated October 21, 2020. Any additional restrictions or procedures at your school or unit beyond the university’s policy also need to be followed. We will continue to monitor the public health situation and government travel advisories and adjust our guidance accordingly.

What Has Changed in the new Tufts Travel Policy?

As of March 10, 2021, updated policies for faculty/staff and for students are in effect.  Here is what is new.  Essentially, Tufts is continuing its essential-only travel policy through August 25, 2021. This means that all travel should be avoided if possible. However, the University is permitting exceptions in limited circumstances for specific research, scholarly and educational activities. More detailed information is in the FAQs below.

  • Domestic travel may be permitted if required for university-related purposes, on the condition that a) all required approvals from the university and the traveler’s school have been obtained; b) upon return to campus, Tufts travelers must abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory and Tufts’ requirements described in the updated travel policy; and c) travelers adhere to policies of the states/localities they are visiting, including any and all quarantine/isolation/stay-at home advisories/or shelter in place orders, should they arise. Any additional school or unit policies or restrictions on travel will continue to apply.
  • University-affiliated group domestic travel and school or unit-organized domestic programs will require review and approval by the relevant dean, EAD or their designee and the Office of the Infection Control Health Director (at OccupationalHealth@tufts.edu) prior to the start of the program. This includes travel related to activities conducted under a single program (e.g., externships) with significant university involvement beyond financial support, such as awarding of credit or provision of operational support. Group travelers will also need to sign a COVID-19 Traveler Pledge and an Assumption of Risk and General Release. 
  • International travel by university-affiliated groups and school/unit-organized programs will not be permitted during the summer of 2021.
  • Individual international travel by faculty, staff or students will be allowed on an “essential only” basis. All international travelers will need to seek approval from their school/unit dean (or designee). Individual international travel must meet the following criteria:
    • The activity cannot be postponed and cannot be done remotely
    • The activity is required for degree completion (e.g., internships, capstones, research) or for career or tenure advancement
  • Postponement would cause significant harm or damage (e.g., compromise research results, prevent degree completion, etc.).

You may consult the following international travel approval process chart for guidance.

All international travelers will also be required to acknowledge and sign a COVID-19 Traveler Pledge and an Assumption of Risk and General Release, adhere to policies of the states/localities they are visiting, including any and all quarantine/isolation/stay-at home advisories/or shelter in place orders, should they arise, and abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory and Tufts’ requirements described below upon return.

  • All travel for the purpose of conducting research activities (domestic or international) must be reviewed and approved by the Integrative Safety Committee within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Additional travel requirements:

  • For students (undergraduate and graduate):
    • International travel must adhere to the existing International Travel Policy. Students traveling internationally must obtain approval from the International Travel Review Committee for travel to countries with a US Department of State Level 3 rating and higher (currently the entire world) and must register their travel in the Tufts Travel Registry.
  • For faculty and staff:
    • Faculty and staff are required to register their international travel in the Tufts Travel Registry.
    • Most Tufts work-related travel remains subject to the no discretionary spending directive, which remains in effect; however, exceptions may be granted by school deans when travel is essential. A notification of any staff/faculty international travel on non-sponsored funds will be sent to the appropriate EAD to account for potential for financial exposure.

Requirement upon return from out-of-region travel (domestic or international)

  • Tufts faculty, staff, and students must abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory as well as Tufts’ policy. This means that travelers returning from out-of-region may not come to campus except for testing until they have completed quarantine or have received one negative COVID-19 test result. Returning travelers, must take a second test within 3-4 days of the first. This may be part of the normal cadence for undergraduate students or may be an "extra" test for faculty, staff, and some graduate students. After receiving two negative test results, individuals may return to their routine surveillance testing cadence. Faculty, staff and students who participate in routine COVID-19 surveillance testing and those who need to come to campus to work but are not in surveillance testing may test immediately on return from travel but must wait for a negative result before returning to campus to work. Travelers working exclusively remotely are not eligible for Tufts’ COVID-19 testing but are still required to abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Tufts faculty, staff, and students must abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory Policy, as well as Tufts' policy. This means that travelers returning from out-of-region may not come to campus except for surveillance testing until they have completed quarantine or have received one negative COVID-19 test result. They also must take a second test (and receive a negative test result) within 3-4 days of the first. After this, they may return to their routine surveillance testing cadence. Faculty, staff and students who participate in routine COVID-19 surveillance testing and those who need to come to campus to work but are not in surveillance testing may test immediately on return from travel but must wait for a negative result before returning to campus to work or study. Travelers working exclusively remotely are not eligible for Tufts' COVID-19 testing but are still required to abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory Policy.

You may also be permitted under limited circumstances to travel internationally if the travel is essential.  This means that the activity you are planning cannot be done remotely, cannot be postponed, and/or postponement would seriously compromise research results or prevent degree or capstone completion. You will need to:

  • Get approval from your Dean (or their designee) that the travel is essential.
  • Get approval from the IRB and the Integrative Safety Committee (ISC) within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research if your travel is for the purpose of research.  For human subjects research, you need to submit a request to the ISC using this form; for travel related to non-human subjects research , contact the ISC,with a description of the research and COVID-mitigation measures being undertaken, to request approval.
  • Get approval from the International Travel Review Committee for travel to countries that are designated US Department of State Level 3 or higher (currently the entire world) and register your international travel in the Tufts Travel Registry.
  • Complete a Tufts COVID-19 Traveler Pledge and an Assumption of Risk and General Release.
  • When you return, abide by Massachusetts and Tufts’ policies (including any school-specific policies).  This means that when you return, you must abide by Massachusetts’ travel policy and remain in quarantine for 10 days or until you have received a negative COVID-19 result.  If you live off campus, you cannot come to campus except for surveillance testing until you have completed quarantine or have received a negative COVID-19 test result.

This flow chart outlining the requirements for obtaining approval for international travel may help you navigate the process.

Yes, under exceptional circumstances.

  • For Tufts-related international travel, you must obtain the approval of your Dean (or their designee) that the travel is “essential,” i.e., your business cannot be done remotely, and postponement would cause serious harm or damage (e.g., compromise research results, prevent degree or capstone completion, damage career or tenure advancement, etc.).
  • If you are traveling internationally for the purpose of research, your travel will also need to be approved by the Integrative Safety Committee (ISC) within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  For human subjects research, you need to submit a request to the ISC using this form; for travel related to non-human subjects research , contact the ISC,with a description of the research and COVID-mitigation measures being undertaken, to request approval.
  • Finally, you will be required to complete a Tufts COVID-19 Traveler Pledge and an Assumption of Risk and General Release, as well as register your international travel in the Tufts Travel Registry.
  • When you return, you must abide by Massachusetts’ travel policy and remain in quarantine for 10 days.  This means you cannot come to campus except for surveillance testing until you have completed quarantine or have received a negative COVID-19 test result. If you participate in routine COVID-19 surveillance testing or need to come to campus to work but are not in surveillance testing, you may test immediately on return from travel but must wait for a negative result before returning to campus to work. Travelers working exclusively remotely are not eligible for Tufts’ COVID-19 testing but are still required to abide by Massachusetts’ rules. If you have contact with someone who has had a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19 during your travels, in accordance with Massachusetts law and Tufts’ policies, you should also inform your supervisor or dean immediately.
  • If your travel is approved, when If you book your travel, we recommend you try to find airlines, hotels or rentals that are offering flexible cancellation and refund policies. You are highly encouraged to book through the university’s preferred travel provider, Travel Collaborative.

NOTE that all other university, school or division restrictions will continue to apply and may affect your ability to travel. This includes the no discretionary spending directive, which remains in effect for the entire academic year.  If you are traveling internationally for Tufts-associated business on non-sponsored funds, your EAD/Administrative Lead will receive notification of your travel when you register.

This flow chart outlining the requirements for obtaining approval for international travel may help you navigate the process.

I am planning to travel for personal reasons. Is it OK to travel?

Travel (both in-region and out-of-region) during the pandemic is strongly discouraged, except under exceptional circumstances. Despite vaccine rollout, the incidence of COVID-19 is on the rise in Massachusetts and nationally as of early April, 2021. This, travel should be limited in all but exceptional circumstances. In general, exceptional circumstances are those in which your physical presence is essential (e.g., the death or life-threatening illness of a close family member). While we understand that travel for other important life events (e.g., family reunions, vacations, holidays, weddings) may be very important to you, it is not truly essential during a pandemic.

Do I need to self-quarantine when I return from travel?

Yes, all Tufts faculty, staff, and students and students must abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory as well as Tufts' policy. This means that travelers returning from out-of-region may not come to campus except for surveillance testing until they have completed quarantine or received one COVID-19 negative test result. While one negative test result is sufficient for returning to campus, returning travelers must also receive a second negative COVID-19 test 3-4 days after the first. After this, they may return to their routine surveillance testing, and those who need to come to campus to work but are not in surveillance testing may test immediately on return from travel but must wait for a negative result before returning to campus to work or study.

Travelers working (or studying) exclusively remotely are not eligible for Tufts' testing but are still required to abide by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Advisory.

If you work (or study) on campus, you can schedule a test at any of Tufts' three testing locations (62R Talbot in Medford/Somerville, 116 Harrison Ave. in Boston, or the Mayer Administrative Building in Grafton).

You should email covidtesting@tufts.edu in advance to schedule a test. If you work exclusively remotely, you are not eligible for COVID-19 testing at Tufts but are still required to abide by Massachusetts rules.

You should speak with your manager or supervisor (including prior to traveling, if possible) on how Massachusetts and CDC quarantine guidelines may affect your ability to return to work.

Why are policies for domestic and international travel different? 

While the health risks of in domestic and international travel are not different, other risks are quite different. For international travel, the rapidly changing circumstances inherent in the COVID-19 situation around the world give rise to risks related to international travel above and beyond those inherent in domestic travel. If circumstances change when a traveler is in country, they may become stranded indefinitely (either because of quarantines and other restrictions, lack of access to testing, or lack of means of transportation to return home), at potentially significant personal and financial cost.  Moreover, if travelers became ill, access to healthcare may be limited.  In both situations, the support Tufts would be able to offer would be limited, as costs would not be covered by insurance or Tufts. And as a civically-minded university, it is our responsibility also to consider the burden travel by Tufts affiliates may impose in host countries – from endangering local populations to taking resources that would be used better to care for their own communities.

What precautions should I take if I travel?

You should be aware that traveling—along with other factors—can significantly increase your risk of exposure—e.g., destination, mode of travel, ability to social distance, mask use, use of good hygiene resources and procedures, and avoiding large groups of people in close proximity for extended periods of time. If you do choose to travel, we urge you to exercise extreme caution.

We urge you strongly to:

  • Monitor both domestic and international destinations where COVID-19 is present, as well as information, travel warnings, health advisories, travel and movement restrictions (e.g., use of public transportation, border closings, screening procedures at airports/stations, etc.) and quarantine requirements and conditions at your destination. These do change frequently.

The CDC website, as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), U.S. Department of State, and International SOS provide useful updated information. Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering also has an excellent site with daily updates of cases worldwide.

  • Take basic precautions recommended by the CDC while you travel.  Your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 depends on your own behavior as well as your travel pattern, destination or means of transportation. Therefore, you should be sure to:        
    • Avoid close contact with sick people
    • Distance yourself from others—stay at least 6 feet away to prevent exposure through coughing
    • Always wear a face mask which covers  your mouth and nose with a face mask
    • Plan ahead to have a sufficient quantity of masks (face shields, googles, etc.) for your entire journey; they may not be available at your destination. Moreover, ensure that these masks (face shields, googles, etc.) meet any criteria specified by the integrative safety committee.
    • Cover your cough with your upper sleeve or elbow
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol
    • Wipe down frequently touched objects (e.g., phones) and surfaces
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Do not share drinks/food/cigarettes, utensils, vaping products, etc.
    • Always strictly follow any guidance at the institution you are visiting or at your destination which are stricter than those delineated above.
    • If eligible under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID vaccination phased approach to vaccination, consider being vaccinated against SARS-Co-V-2 prior to travel.
  • Speak with your manager/supervisor (including prior to traveling, if possible) on how quarantine guidelines issued by the State of Massachusetts and by the CDC for travelers returning either from domestic or international travel may affect your ability to return to work.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you get symptoms, which include coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Who can help me if I get stuck while I am traveling?

If you are on university-related international travel, please call International SOS at +1 (215) 942-8478. They can help you assess your situation and find suitable accommodation and medical advice or treatment, if needed.  You will need to follow local guidance on procedures and next steps.

For personal travel, it is highly recommended that you obtain a travel assistance provider. You can buy the International SOS coverage at 20% discount: https://www.internationalsos.com/MasterPortal/default.aspx?membnum=11BCPS000093.

Will the university pay for charges incurred if a trip is extended or needs to be changed (e.g., extra costs for accommodation in the event of a quarantine at the destination, or additional travel incurred of because new government restrictions, etc.)?

For travel on sponsored programs, higher costs for refundable tickets and additional costs that may be incurred if you are quarantined or need to change your travel plans because of the COVID-19 situation in your destination are generally allowable. The charges will need to be booked to the applicable project, grant, or Dept-ID. For charges on non-sponsored programs or activities, the university will not pay for charges unless you have previously received explicit permission from your EAD or VP (or their designee). 

Should I buy travel insurance?

You will need carefully check the policy to ensure that pandemics are not excluded, particularly during a current event of this magnitude. Some carriers cover “cancel for any reason” policies, which may cover this event. However, they tend to be significantly more expensive. Booking a refundable ticket may be the preferred method of accounting for potential changes in your travel plans.

  • We have instituted guidelines and HR policies to minimize the number of people on campus—remote work and staggered work schedules are examples of policies that allow for social distancing
  • We are encouraging good hygiene principles: reminders to wash your hands are on every bathroom door, and we are supplying hand sanitizers