Travel

Travel is one of the areas of university life and campus operations that has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts tell us that travel in and out of communities presents a high risk of spreading the infection. In our current situation, with a rising prevalence in the surrounding region and the Chicago area, traveling to and from the Champaign-Urbana area is not advised and is potentially dangerous. Please try to travel out of our community only if necessary.

If you must travel, limit yourself to essential activities like attending work and buying groceries for two weeks before you travel. This is to help protect you and your loved ones from possible virus spread. 

When you return, test immediately upon return and limit your activities to essential activities such as attending work, testing, visiting the pharmacy and buying groceries until you receive two negative on-campus test results. 

If you are concerned about exposure, we encourage you to test more frequently. 

International Travel

University-sponsored international travel

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has cancelled all international university-sponsored programs until further notice.

Those who believe they have an essential business reason to travel by air may request approval through their unit executive officer (dean, vice provost, vice chancellor, etc.). It is expected that permission to travel will be granted only in the most limited of circumstances.

As of early August, the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are issuing country level advisories related to COVID-19. All individuals returning from study or travel abroad should follow CDC’s after travel guidance and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.

Personal international travel

The Department of State has issued COVID-19 travel guidance that advises all U.S. citizens to read the country-specific travel advisories and U.S. Embassy COVID pages for updates on the impact of COVID-19 worldwide. Individuals are also encouraged to review the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) travel notices.

Domestic Travel

University-sponsored domestic travel

The university is limiting domestic travel for faculty, staff and students to pre-approved travel for essential university business. 

Those who believe they have an essential business reason to travel by air may request approval through their unit executive officer (dean, vice provost, vice chancellor, etc.). It is expected that permission to travel will be granted only in the most limited of circumstances.

Programs that involve domestic air travel that have not yet departed are cancelled. Programs that involve domestic air travel that have already departed (are currently away from campus) should follow CDC guidelines for travel in the United States.

Personal domestic travel

The university is strongly advising against all personal domestic travel for faculty, staff and students, especially those in a high-risk category.

Returning to campus after traveling

When planning to travel, please limit yourself to essential activities like attending work and buying groceries for two weeks before you travel. This is to help protect you and your loved ones from possible virus spread. 

When you return, please test immediately upon return and test a second time no sooner than three days apart following your return. Before you receive two negative tests, limit leaving your residence to only essential activities such as attending work, testing, visiting the pharmacy and buying groceries.

Per CUPHD guidelines, if you have been fully vaccinated for more than two weeks, you are not required to quarantine after travel, unless you have symptoms consistent with COVID. If you have symptoms, you should test immediately and quarantine until your results come back negative. Continue to wear a mask and social distance at all times.

International travel if returning to your home country

If you choose to travel outside of the U.S., you should be prepared for the possibility for your return may be significantly delayed. This could pose different problems depending on your unique situation, from not being able to resume classes when face to face instruction does resume to not being able to apply for OPT. Each student should consider their own circumstances.

International students and scholars can refer to the International Student and Scholar Services website for visa and immigration specific questions.

COVID-19 IgM testing

McKinley Health Center is now offering Rapid COVID-19 IgM testing to eligible students who are required to obtain IgM testing for international travel. This testing is not available to faculty/staff.

Please call (217) 244-5661 to schedule an appointment. The test will be charged to your student account. You must have a negative COVID test within four days of your scheduled appointment.

For more information, please visit the McKinley Health Center website.


Frequently Asked Questions

If I am a student, what should I do if I miss a testing day? (Example: You forget to test. You were unable to test. You needed to be out of town for a period of time.)

If you forget a testing day, you should be tested as soon as possible.

If you will be away from campus for less than a week, test the day before you leave. Then, if you receive a noncompliance email from the Office for Student Conflict Resolution, please indicate the reason for missing a test. If you will be away from campus for more than a week, update your Student Location address in Student Self-Service. Remember to update this address again when you return to campus. You should resume testing as soon as you return.

Can I receive a copy of my test results for travel?

The University’s COVID-19 test is a Saliva RT-PCR test performed in a CLIA certified lab. After your receive your test result message via the MyMcKinley Portal, you can print those results or reach out to McKinley at studenthealthcenter@illinois.edu to request an official report. Official reports include full patient identifiers, test name, date of collection and testing, name and of the CLIA Certified lab, as well as the results. We recommend that you confirm with your airline what type of report or test will be accepted. If you need a nasal swab test that is FDA certified, our saliva test documentation will not be sufficient for your travel needs. Please note that obtaining a nasal test result might require more time than required by most airlines and on-demand options within the community are limited. McKinley does not provide personalized letters of authenticity with their official reports.  

My research grant is funding my travel to an international conference. Is that considered a prohibited university-sponsored travel opportunity?

The University has suspended all international travel for university-sponsored business. A faculty member may request a waiver from their Unit Executive Officer (UEO). The waiver will have to undergo second level review. Waivers will be awarded only if the travel is urgently necessary to the university’s mission—for example, if student safety is at risk or if the research has immediate consequences for health of the population. Participation at disciplinary conferences is not considered an activity that is critical at this time. It is expected that waivers will be rarely granted.

Additional Resources

Travel updates