August 3, 2020

MIT has extended the suspension of MIT-related international travel for students, faculty, postdocs, and staff until further notice. MIT-related domestic travel also remains suspended for most travelers.

MIT-related travel is defined as:

  • Funded entirely or in part by MIT sources.
  • Organized primarily by MIT (e.g., MIT selects the participants).
  • Conducted at the behest of MIT or in furtherance of MIT objectives.
  • Related to scholarly activities, whether paid by MIT or not.
  • Requires the use of MIT equipment, supplies, or personnel.

Local travel – which is permitted so long as it complies with Massachusetts Covid guidelines – is defined as travel in the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont. Personal domestic travel outside of New England and personal international travel are strongly discouraged.

The decision to extend the suspension of most MIT-related travel resulted from a process that included recommendations from an ad-hoc committee of faculty and staff; community feedback from students, staff, and faculty; and input from MIT Medical and MIT Emergency Management Services. The final policy was adopted by MIT’s senior administration. Exceptions may be made for some travelers under certain circumstances; complete details, including protocols for returning to campus, are provided below.

Please note that this travel guidance is supplemental to existing, normal Institute travel policies and is subject to change at any time based on local, national, and/or global public health conditions and governmental restrictions.

Guidance for all travelers

All MIT travelers are asked to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Travelers should abide by local governmental guidelines and U.S. State Department guidelines and take appropriate precautions.
  2. MIT-related local travel (within New England) is permitted so long as it is in keeping with the current Covid guidelines from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  3. Non-local travelers must adhere to post-travel protocols upon return to campus:
    1. Student travelers living in MIT housing must be tested for Covid-19 as soon as they return to campus, quarantine for seven days, and then be tested a second time with a negative result.
    2. All other travelers must quarantine for seven days and then be tested for Covid-19 with a negative result.
    3. Returning travelers should check the operating hours for MIT Medical and complete the daily Covid Pass attestation prior to arriving at MIT Medical for the test.
  4. All community members must register their MIT-related domestic and international travel in the MIT Travel Registry prior to departure.
  5. For individuals with regular access to MIT’s campus, personal travel must also be registered.
  6. Whenever possible/allowable, all MIT-related travel should be booked through booked through MIT’s preferred provider, the Travel Collaborative (domestic and international booking).

Student travel

All MIT-related undergraduate student travel is suspended until further notice. This includes both domestic and international travel. No exceptions will be made.

All MIT-related graduate student travel is suspended until further notice. This includes both domestic and international travel. Exceptions may be made for essential domestic and international travel. The exceptions process requires endorsement from the student’s PI or advisor and DLC head, a risk review by the High-Risk Travel Committee, and approval by the vice chancellor.

These restrictions may not apply to students who are local to specific programs (e.g., international students already living abroad who wish to participate in an education abroad program); these cases would need to be evaluated before MIT endorses participation.

Administrative staff travel

All MIT-related staff travel is suspended until further notice. This includes both domestic and international travel. Exceptions may be made for essential domestic and international travel. The exceptions process requires endorsement from the staff member’s direct supervisor, a risk review by the High-Risk Travel Committee, and approval by the relevant Academic Council member.

Faculty, research staff, and postdoc travel

All MIT-related domestic travel is strongly discouraged. All MIT-related international travel is suspended until further notice unless one of the following criteria is met:

  • The traveler will be staying abroad for 30 days or more.
  • The traveler is working remotely 100 percent of the time and has no immediate plans to return to campus.

If neither of those criteria is met, exceptions may be made for essential international travel with the endorsement of the relevant PI or department head, a risk review by the High-Risk Travel Committee, and the approval of the Deans’ Council and vice president for research.

High-Risk Travel Committee

MIT’s High-Risk Travel Committee reviews all exception requests and provides a recommendation to the appropriate decision-maker(s). Committee members bring a depth and breadth of expertise in the areas of risk management, international programming, medicine, and public health.

The committee includes Sarah Brown (risk and insurance analyst, Insurance Office), Andrea Finnin (Emergency Management), Griselda Gomez (managing director, MISTI-Mexico and MISTI assistant director, student health and safety), Todd Holmes (program manager, International Safety and Security), Alison Hynd (assistant dean, PKG Center), Colleen McDonald (associate chief of nursing and nurse practitioner, MIT Medical), and Robin Lemp (director, Office of the Provost).

Exceptions process for essential travel

Exceptions may be made in the case of essential travel for all travelers except for undergraduates (as noted above).

Essential travel is defined as travel that:

  • Advances critical research in the national or global interest.
  • Preserves the continuity of research that cannot be repeated, replaced, performed remotely or by proxy, or that is necessary to preserve the safety/well-being of research subjects.
  • Supports a critical MIT research, educational, or administrative/operational function that cannot be deferred or accomplished remotely.
  • For graduate students, maintains progress toward academic degree and that cannot be postponed, replaced, or accomplished remotely or by proxy.

Individuals with essential travel needs must apply for an exception. Requests with the required endorsements will be reviewed by the MIT High-Risk Travel Committee and then forwarded to the appropriate individual or group for a final decision.

Undergraduate studentsGraduate studentsAdministrative staffFaculty, research staff, and postdocs
Exception required for:No exceptions allowedEssential domestic and international travelEssential domestic and international travelEssential international travel
Required endorsementNo exceptions allowedPI or advisor and DLC headDirect supervisorDLC head or PI
Risk review and recommendationNo exceptions allowedHigh-Risk Travel CommitteeHigh-Risk Travel CommitteeHigh-Risk Travel Committee
Final decisionNo exceptions allowedVice chancellorRelevant Academic Council memberDeans’ Council and vice president for research