May 14: Updates in Guidance for domestic and international travel

Dear MSU Community Members:

Historically, many MSU faculty, staff, and students have engaged in research, education, and service beyond campus borders, throughout the United States, and around the world. MSU is well known for its global and U.S. footprint, and many of us have embraced this as a central part of the university’s mission. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted and curtailed a good deal of this learning and work, mostly because of restrictions related to travel.

The recent availability of effective vaccines has made it possible to begin resuming this important work of our faculty, staff, and students. Because so many in our community and state have been vaccinated, the subcommittee charged with travel policies and procedures in International Studies and Programs (ISP) is now revising guidance for domestic and international travel. These changes are welcome steps forward in returning to what we used to take for granted as “ordinary.” The notable changes in travel policy and procedures are enumerated below, by type of travel. Please review these updates in relation to any MSU travel plans you may be making or anticipate making in the near future.

Domestic Travel

MSU-sponsored domestic travel authorization will return to the processes used prior to the pandemic, with leadership of the unit approving such travel. Depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 by mid-summer, we will again consider policy and procedures for fall semester undergraduate group domestic travel. In the interim, students planning to travel on MSU-sponsored group domestic travel are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. The reason for this advice is that if one student in a group traveling together contracts COVID-19, the entire group could be put in quarantine if they are not vaccinated, depending on local public health policy. This would affect the goals and experience of all members of the group on the trip.

Inbound Travel         

Everyone coming to MSU from in-state, out-of-state, or international locations must follow MSU policies (i.e., the  MSU Community Compact and other general guidance posted on MSU’s Together We Will website).

International Travel

  1. For faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated, there will be a more streamlined review process for international travel. Faculty, staff, and sponsored guests are asked to attest to their vaccination status in the MAU Approval Form which, along with the Waiver Application Form to travel internationally, is still required at least three weeks prior to departure. Unvaccinated faculty, staff, and sponsored guests traveling internationally must follow the Faculty and Staff Travel Review Committee review process.
  2. For graduate students who are fully vaccinated, there will be fewer restrictions on travel to an increased number of international sites, with an expedited process of approval for MSU-sponsored travel. Application for MAU approval and waiver to travel internationally is still required at least three weeks prior to departure. For unvaccinated graduate travelers there is an approval process through RSAC that takes into consideration COVID-19 rates at destination.
  3. For MSU-sponsored undergraduate group travel, such as faculty-directed education abroad, vaccination will be required as a condition of acceptance for these group trips. Individuals wishing to participate in these programs will be asked to attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status. This will allow for increasing the numbers of students participating in international Education Abroad trips, the range, and locations of these group international trips, with the opportunity for students to engage in learning activities more fully.
  4. For undergraduate students who choose not to be vaccinated and who are traveling individually, they may still study or conduct internships internationally in MSU-sponsored direct enroll or exchange programs, managed together with our international partners through the Office of Education Abroad.
  5. There is a new private Cancel for Any Reason / Interruption for Any Reason insurance available which may cover non-reimbursable costs, such as enforced quarantine or isolation delays if MSU travelers are exposed to or contract COVID-19. Unvaccinated travelers who incur these expenses related to COVID-19 will likely be responsible for these costs.

More travel guidance can be found on the Global Health, Safety and Security website at https://globalsafety.isp.msu.edu/travel-during-covid-19-pandemic. We encourage all travelers to stay informed about health and safety conditions at their destinations, policies on border closings, quarantine on arrival, and airline policies.

 

Sincerely,

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D.