Beginning Thursday, the University has returned to its high-risk and restricted policies for University-sponsored travel, according to a July 15 Today@Brown announcement from Christine Sprovieri, director of international travel risk management. The transition marks a loosening of restrictions on University-sponsored international travel, following a May 27 announcement that lifted the University’s “essential travel only” policy and restrictions on travel domestically.
As part of University-sponsored travel, all students are now eligible to travel to countries marked as Level 1 or 2 by the U.S. Department of State travel advisories, Level 1 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel health notices or Level 1 or 2 by the CDC COVID-19 risk assessment levels.
Under the University’s high-risk travel policy, students will be eligible to travel to international destinations designated as “high-risk” with approval from the Global Travel Risk Assessment Committee. “High-risk” destinations are those “deemed as posing a significant health, safety or security risk to the traveler,” according to University policy. Under the high-risk category are destinations listed as Level 3 — “reconsider travel” — by the U.S. DOS or Level 2 — “practice enhanced precautions” — by the CDC.
Students participating in a Brown-administered group program — namely through Brown-approved study abroad with the Office of International Programs, the Swearer Center, the Program in Liberal Medical Education or Wintersession courses — do not have to seek GTRAC approval prior to travel, as the programs have already gone through a “site assessment and program review,” Sprovieri wrote. Faculty and staff are not required to seek GTRAC approval prior to travel to high-risk destinations.
Students outside of Brown-administered group programs seeking GTRAC approval must apply at least six weeks prior to their departure and complete a Safety Plan through Brown’s TravelSafe registry system. GTRAC will consider factors including “academic necessity and appropriateness of the travel, personal traveler preparedness and sufficiency of the procedures in place to mitigate the specific health and safety risks” when reviewing travel plans.
Additionally, from July 15 to Aug. 8, students approved to be on campus for the summer term are eligible for domestic travel with student organizations through the University’s extracurricular activities policy, so long as they receive prior approval from the Student Activities Office.
At this time, all students remain ineligible to visit destinations categorized as “restricted” through University-sponsored travel, according to the University’s restricted travel policy.
Destinations under the category for “restricted” travel include those designated as Level 4 by the U.S. DOS, Level 3 by the CDC or Level 4 by the CDC COVID-19 risk assessment levels, as well as other locations determined to be of increased public health risk by the University. Additionally, faculty and staff are “strongly advised” against travel to restricted locations, and are encouraged to submit a Safety Plan via TravelSafe should they plan travel to a restricted location.
Students planning travel for field research must submit a Justification and Safety Plan and receive approval from the University’s Field Research Continuity Subcommittee. Specific information regarding field research guidelines for the summer 2021 semester was updated at the end of the spring semester by Jill Pipher, vice president for research.
The University’s loosening of international travel policies marks the first re-opening of University-sponsored travel and study abroad since the onset of the pandemic, after the initial implementation of travel restrictions and closure of study abroad programs in March 2020.
On June 17, following the suspension of all study abroad programs for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, the University announced its intention to resume some study abroad programs for the fall 2021 semester, including programs in Barbados, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Despite promising developments in public health conditions, “many countries continue to impose border entry restrictions, including mandatory quarantine and testing requirements, so it is essential for all international travelers to continually review their destination travel requirements and remain apprised of U.S. re-entry guidelines,” Sprovieri wrote.
International travelers are encouraged to monitor the U.S. DOS travel guidance website, the CDC website or the International SOS pandemic website — using the University’s membership number “11BSGC000031” to log in — “as travel and entry restrictions continue to evolve and could change with little advance warning,” Sprovieri added.
Jack Walker served as senior editor of multimedia, social media and post- magazine for The Herald’s 132nd Editorial Board. Jack is an archaeology and literary arts concentrator from Thurmont, Maryland who previously covered the Grad School and staff and student labor beats.