Penn State has established comprehensive guidance for both personal and University-affiliated travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines have been developed with the health and safety of the entire University community in mind, in accordance with the latest information and requirements from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the governor’s office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of State. All Penn Staters are being asked to follow these basic guidelines in the interest of their own health, and for the common good.
COVID-19 vaccination requirement for University-funded international travel
For all international travel that begins on June 1, 2021, or later, all employees requesting University-affiliated travel that involves University funding must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the date of departure. Please note the following:
- Travel funded by non-University funds (e.g., federal/state grants) is excluded from this requirement.
- Employees with a departure date before June 1, 2021, and employees whose travel on or after June 1 was approved prior to May 25, are exempt from this requirement.
- Unit executives may choose to exempt from the vaccination requirement those employees for whom the requested travel is part of their regular job responsibilities.
Employees who are not vaccinated because of a medical condition, documented disability or religious belief may request an exemption by contacting the Affirmative Action Office at email@example.com. If an individual who is not vaccinated is making a request to travel for sponsored research purposes, they must obtain permission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (colleges and campuses), Lora Weiss (institutes and Applied Research Lab), or Dr. Kevin Black (College of Medicine). Unvaccinated employees who receive permission for travel must sign an acknowledgement of risk. Unvaccinated travelers should get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel.
Penn State encourages its faculty, staff and students to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations related to travel. In particular, unvaccinated travelers should delay travel until they are vaccinated. In addition to the risk to their personal health, travelers should be aware of the elevated risk to other members of the community — including individuals with compromised immune systems and the elderly — should they become infected.
If you must travel for personal reasons, follow all state and local travel restrictions currently in place. All travelers should consult the CDC’s recommendations related to domestic travel and international travel, which differ depending on vaccination status. International travelers should consult the CDC’s website for the latest travel health notices and COVID-19 travel recommendations by destination, and research the restrictions imposed in the country they plan to visit, as well as any U.S. government restrictions that could impact their return home, as the global travel situation is changing frequently.
COVID-19 vaccines are available across the commonwealth. Click here for information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health on where to sign up for and receive a vaccine.
The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued international COVID-19 travel advisories and recommend reconsidering or avoiding travel to many destinations.
Employee Domestic Travel
Starting July 1, 2021, employees may resume University-affiliated domestic travel without unit executive approvals. Employees are asked to limit travel where possible and consider virtual options that might replace or reduce the need to travel. Employees planning to travel on Penn State business should follow their unit's pre-COVID-19 travel approval process. College of Medicine faculty at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, both clinical and basic science, are expected to follow the shared guidelines issued together by Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine, and Penn State Health.
Employees wishing to travel should carefully review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance; research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which they are traveling and make sure they can comply with any restrictions; and arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, when possible.
Employees planning domestic travel should:
- Practice physical distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.
- Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of their work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others.
- Follow all quarantine guidelines and requirements of the destination.
- If you are unvaccinated, the CDC recommends upon return that you seek a viral test three- to five days after travel, and stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel.
Student Domestic Travel
Students should rigorously restrict their travel to only travel that is necessary.
If a student is traveling off campus as part of a course, the faculty member teaching the course is responsible for working with their unit administrator so that any student travel adheres to the University’s travel guidance. This includes travel for short duration field trips. Overnight field trips are highly discouraged and generally will not be approved. International travel currently is not permitted.
Students wishing to travel domestically to conduct research, including thesis or dissertation research, should make a request to the faculty member teaching the course that is associated with the research, or the student's research adviser. The faculty member will submit a request for travel to the unit executive (dean or chancellor) of the unit to which the travel is related.
Travel for cocurricular purposes is discouraged. Students and student organizations wishing to travel for such purposes must submit a request to the Office of Student Activities for approval.
Full guidance related to student domestic travel is available on the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs website, under "Visitors, Travel and Meetings."
All University-sponsored international travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended until further notice. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as U.S. Department of State and other public health guidance evolves.
Students who wish to travel internationally for academically essential purposes should review the materials posted online on the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs’ website under “Visitors, Travel and Meetings” and follow the process outlined.
Employee requests for essential travel should be screened by and submitted through unit executives to Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org and include a description of why the travel is mission critical. For the Applied Research Laboratory, essential travel will be reviewed by Senior Vice President for Research Lora G. Weiss at OSVPRTravel@psu.edu. For the College of Medicine, essential travel will be reviewed by Interim Dean of the College of Medicine Kevin Black at email@example.com. After this review, all travel requests will be sent to the Global Safety Office for review by the International Restricted Travel Committee prior to final approval.
Employees wishing to travel internationally must request approval at least one month prior to the expected date of departure. Requestors must receive approval prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. Once approved, all international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements must be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel. The Global Safety Office (TSN@psu.edu) will continue to assist approved international travelers and be a resource for any questions about health and safety at your destination(s).
Full details about how employees can make a request to travel internationally, as well as requirements before, during and after the trip, are available on the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs’ website under "Visitors, Travel and Meetings."