Dear Travel Policy Update listserv,

Thank you, to all of you who have reached out to share your questions, thoughts and feedback regarding travel.  These are extraordinary times and keeping lines of communication open is more important than ever and has helped us to plan and anticipate needs better.  We want to share with you an update on where things stand today for Duke’s travel policy. 

The suspension put into place by the COVID-19 Addendum to Duke’s Global Travel Policy will be extended to August 8, 2021.

The specific criteria required for exceptions to this suspension to allow travel may be revised and possibly broadened if warranted by positive developments such as declining hospitalizations and wider distribution of vaccines.  Any such revisions will be further specified and updated officially within the Addendum in mid- to late-March and will be available online at  As with all travel at Duke, a significant change in the public health and safety environment can lead to a policy revision, with possible cancellations of travel and return of participants to their homes or Durham. The policies we outline here are subject to change at any time and such changes would be announced via this listserv and on the policy webpage noted above.

For Undergraduates: As stipulated in the January 28th email from Provost Sally Kornbluth et. al., Duke support for undergraduate travel during the Summer of ’21 will be suspended. This suspension holds true for both individual students and programs, domestic as well as international, and regardless of whether the travel is for research, internships, fellowships, academic study or another purpose.  Our fervent hope is that the outlook improves substantially so that support for some undergraduate travel can resume in the Fall of ’21.

For Graduate and Professional Students: The Duke Global Travel Policy and COVID-19 Addendum will remain in effect therefore, support for travel by Graduate/Professional students, both domestic and international, remains suspended.  However, an avenue for individual students to apply for an exception via their “Top-Level Manager” (e.g., School Dean, Institute Director, etc.) does exist.  At this point, most units, schools, and institutes have developed protocols under which a Graduate/Professional Student and/or their Faculty Advisor/Grant PI can apply for an exception which if granted would allow for travel to proceed.  (If you need help identifying who to turn to regarding travel within your unit, please reach out for assistance.)

As has been the case throughout the Academic Year, the decision-maker, faculty/PI or individual Graduate/Professional student can request a review of proposed travel by the COVID-19 Travel Sub-Committee of the Provost’s Global Travel Advisory Committee (GTAC) for input and advice on the safety and security of the planned travel and activity. The COVID-19 Sub-Committee’s review and recommendation is not mandatory for Graduate/Professional Student travel.  The ultimate decision for the exception lies with the leadership of the school/institute that will be supporting the travel.  If the supporting unit is different than the student’s home school/institute, approval must be secured from both the supporting unit’s leadership and the home school/institute’s leadership.  For example, if a Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) Grad student has research funded by a Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) grant, the student needs approval from both the leaderships of NSOE and DGHI for the travel to proceed.

For Faculty, Staff and Others such as Post-Docs, Fellows, etc.: The Duke Global Travel Policy and COVID-19 Addendum will remain in effect, and exceptions to the travel suspension can be granted by “Top-Level Managers.” The decision-maker can request the COVID-19 Sub-Committee’s review and recommendation on the safety and security of the proposed travel and activity.

For all travelers: Students, Faculty, Staff and others must remit a copy of approval for travel to the COVID-19 Travel Sub-Committee and individuals must enter their personal and trip details into the Duke Travel Registry.

A note to decision-makers: As stated above, we are working with senior leadership to refine the decision-criteria to aide in granting exceptions for academic and research-related travel for Faculty, Staff, and Graduate/Professional Students.  We will have more specific guidance on this in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  We also plan to host an online Travel Forum sometime in late-March or early-April once the policy changes have been formally announced.  Please watch for the invitation to this forum in the coming weeks.

Kindest regards,

Eric Mlyn, Chair, Global Travel Advisory Committee and
Christy Parrish, Travel Policy Administrator