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Frequently Asked Questions | Domestic & International Travel

Published August 10, 2020

Previously revised 3/1/2021, 11/30/2020, 9/10/2020

Q: Is domestic travel by car for University business permitted under the University’s current COVID-19 Return Plans?
A: There is no COVID-19 prohibition on domestic car travel by OU employees for University business deemed to be mission-critical. Employees and students should follow the current process for requesting approval for travel.

Q: Are there tips for mitigating COVID-19 risks during car travel?
A: Yes. While there are no guarantees that these steps will prevent COVID-19, these steps will reduce the risk of infection generally:

General Travel Guidance from the CDC:

Driving Tips

  • Take extra masks and hand sanitizer
  • Limit passengers to household members, or mask in the vehicle if passengers include non-household members
  • Wear a mask when you leave your vehicle
  • Practice social distancing when you leave your vehicle
  • Use drive-through or curbside pick-up service for meals, choose restaurants with outdoor seating, or pack your own meals
  • Pay for gas at the pump, when possible
  • Hand sanitize often
  • Seek restrooms that are not common travel stops or those at less crowded locations

Q: Is OU employee domestic or international air travel for University business permitted under the University’s current COVID-19 Return Plans?
A: Domestic and international air travel by OU employees for University business is permitted if it is considered mission critical, defined as necessary to the ongoing operations of the University’s core academic, research, or operations functions. If travel is mission critical, that means if the travel doesn’t occur as scheduled, the University’s ability to meet is core academic, research, or operations functions is significantly impaired. More details are in the HSC COVID-19 Response Plan.

Q: If I believe OU employee domestic or international air travel for University business is mission critical, how do I get the travel approved?
A: Individuals who believe domestic or international air travel by OU employees is mission critical must first contact their department chair or director for approval and then obtain approval from their dean or vice president. That individual will consider factors such as time sensitivity, travel advisories, impact on competitive edge, and actions of peer institutions, and will then make a recommendation to the Senior Vice President and Provost on their campus. More details are in the HSC COVID-19 Response Plan.

If travel is international, the traveler should review the COVID-19 vaccination and quarantine requirements of their destination and of their departure and arrival airports, as applicable, and should also confirm that their health insurance will provide coverage in all travel locations.

Q: Are there tips for mitigating the risk of COVID-19 on a domestic or international flight?
A: Yes. While there are no guarantees that these steps will prevent COVID-19, these steps will reduce the risk of infection generally:

Flight Tips:

  • Consider completing the COVID-19 vaccine series prior to your flight.
  • Take extra masks and carry travel-size hand sanitizer
  • Wear a mask during travel status – in cabs, shuttles, airports, airplanes
  • Consider wearing eye protection, such as safety goggles
  • Practice social distancing during travel status
  • Hand sanitize often

Q:  Are there additional tips for mitigating the risk of COVID-19 during group travel?
A:  Yes.  In addition to the tips for car and air travel above, if all individuals in the group have not completed the COVID-19 vaccine series or if you are unsure of their vaccine status, the following are recommended:

  • Choose outdoor dining options or eat only with household members
  • Choose single-room options for non-household members

Group travelers should have a contingency plan that includes what will happen if one member of the group becomes ill and cannot return with the group.

Q: If I travel domestically or internationally by car or air for approved University business, do I still have to complete the online COVID-19 Screening and Reporting Tool?
A: Yes. You do have to complete the online COVID-19 Screening and Reporting Tool if you travel internationally and if you go on a domestic or international cruise. More details are available here.

Q: If I travel internationally by car or by air for University business, is there an automatic isolation period when I return?
A: Yes. There is currently an isolation period, generally 7 days, consistent with federal executive order.

Q: If I go on a cruise, is there an automatic isolation period when I return?
A: Yes. There is currently an isolation period of at least 7 days, consistent with federal executive order.

Q: Does the automatic isolation period change if my trip is for personal purposes rather than for University business?
A: No, there is an isolation period as described above, even if the travel is for personal purposes.

Q: Can my supervisor require me to travel domestically or internationally by air for University business?
A: We are currently asking supervisors to leave air travel for University business at the employee’s discretion.

Q: Does COVID-19 change how we make domestic or international travel arrangements?
A: Employees who have received approval for domestic or international travel should follow the typical process for mission-critical travel arrangements. Information about travel advisories is available on the CDC and State Department websites. Employees should review the specific COVID vaccination and quarantine requirements of their destination and of their departure and arrival airports, as applicable.

Q: What if I become sick while on the trip?
A: Pre-travel planning should include a review of your personal health and risks with your health care provider or travel medicine specialist, if needed; e.g., for malaria medication. You should also identify health care providers and facilities you can access at your destination. Once there, if you become ill, please consult your health care provider or seek local medical care based on your health needs.

When you are ready to return to campus, complete the online Screening and Reporting Tool before your first day back on campus if you meet the requirements for submission.

Q: What if I become sick after returning from the trip?
A: Consult your primary care physician or seek local medical care based on your health needs. Also, anytime you have COVID-19 symptoms, you need to complete the online COVID-19 Screening and Reporting Tool – regardless of whether you have been on a trip.