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COVID-19 Controller's Office Update

Travel Policies and Resources Related to COVID-19

Interim Travel Policy
This policy is effective for the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Period (July 1, 2020-December 31, 2020) and will be revisited during the Fall semester with regard to the second half of Fiscal Year 2021 (January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021).

On May 13, President Smith outlined a number of measures designed to mitigate the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In keeping with the principles President Smith stated, this interim travel policy seeks to hold paramount the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff members while also helping the College maintain operational continuity and retain employees to the greatest extent possible.

This interim travel policy extends the restriction on most College-related travel through Dec. 31, 2020. Limited exceptions may be considered if travel is deemed to be critical to Swarthmore’s mission, support activities that are absolutely necessary to fulfill core/primary job functions, provide crucial support to the College, cannot be rescheduled, and must be done in person. Travel related to professional development, conferences and presentations are currently considered non-essential.

Below are guidelines to aid in determining whether exceptions to certain travel requests will be considered. All College-related travel must be approved by the appropriate member of the President’s Staff. A travel request form will be made available to campus for use prior to July 1st. 

Travel Related to Faculty Research:

Travel will be considered necessary if the related research meets the following criteria:

  • long-term experiments and activities that would generate significant data and financial loss if not completed
  • human subjects research that holds the potential for direct benefit to the subject (e.g., investigational drug, devices, or surgical procedures) and the interaction is required to deliver that potential direct benefit
  • work to maintain critical samples, animal populations, plant populations, tissue cultures, bacteria, archaea, and other living organism
  • activity that, if discontinued, would pose a safety hazard
  • activity to maintain critical equipment in facilities and labs
  • COVID-19 related activity that has a timeline for deployment that could address the current crisis

Further detail on Essential Faculty Research can be found here.


To the extent possible, Admissions recruitment should be conducted in a virtual format, both for outbound travel by the deans and also related to travel to campus by prospective students. The Vice President and Dean of Admissions will determine which travel and events are essential.


Prospect development meetings should be conducted virtually unless travel is deemed essential by the Vice President for Advancement.

President's Staff:

Travel by President’s Staff members must be pre-approved by the President or designee.

Administrative Department Staff:

Staff travel is generally considered non-essential except when accompanying students on approved essential travel or when not traveling will cause harm to the operations of the College (e.g. Admissions- or Advancement-related travel). The College values supporting staff development; however, all staff development should be conducted remotely/virtually until further notice.

Job Recruitment:

Though a hiring freeze on filling vacant staff positions is in place, some exceptions for certain positions that are critical to the needs of the College may be made with the written approval of the member of the President’s Staff, and faculty searches may proceed. In such cases, all interviews with job candidates should be conducted virtually unless campus visits by candidates are considered essential by the department’s President’s Team member.

Travel Agencies:

With consideration for health and safety issues associated with travel, speaking events/presentations may be allowable when the conference organization provides clear guidance on its health-related protocols and when it agrees to pay for employee’s travel. Such travel must also receive pre-approval from the appropriate President’s Staff member. 

For other approved travel, faculty and staff should book travel arrangements using a College contracted travel agency (Avenue Two or Key Travel). Travel arrangements can be made over the phone. An online booking tool is in the pilot phase of being made available.


Student Organizations: Travel by student clubs/groups is to be avoided whenever possible. The Dean of Students will determine which travel and events are permissible.


Team Travel: To be determined based on guidance from the NCAA and Centennial Conference.

Coaches/Staff Travel: In-person recruiting is to be avoided whenever possible. The Director of Athletics, in consultation with the Provost, will determine which travel and events are permissible.


The following are suggested meal amounts for most domestic locations (including tip) when conducting College business:

  • Breakfast: $15.00
  • Lunch: $20.00
  • Dinner:  $30.00

2.    The purchase of alcohol during college travel is generally not permitted to be expensed and will not be reimbursed. In some very limited cases, when appropriate, alcohol purchases for business meals may be reimbursed but such exceptions must receive prior, written approval by the appropriate member of the President's Staff.  

Previous Update on Travel March 13, 2020: 

Cancelation costs:

The Controller's Office understands that faculty and staff are faced with cancelations of conferences, events and other travel commitments. In response to these circumstances, the College will mitigate cancelation or change fees that may be charged by the airlines.

  • If you booked airline tickets with a travel agency, contact the agency to make any cancelations or changes.
  • Typically tickets booked during the pandemic, major airlines waive cancelation or change feeds and a the full value of the ticket is made available to the traveler in the form of a credit or voucher held by the airline. These credits typically must be used in one year of the original booking date.
  • If tickets were booked before March 2020, changes or cancelations may incur a fee from the airline of a reduction in the value of the credit or voucher. Faculty
  • Faculty with questions about airline cancelation or change fees should contact Administrative Coordinator for Academic Programs Jennifer Piddington (jpiddin1). Staff with questions should contact Strategic Sourcing Manager Chris Kane (ckane1)

Trip Insurance

Trip insurance purchased on/after January 23rd doesn't allow for a refund of the fare unless the traveler is infected with COVID-19. Travel protection plan insurance does not typically cover plans canceled due to viruses or infections. "Cancel for any reason" insurance plans are not permitted due to their high cost. 

College Foreign Travel Accident Insurance

The College carries insurance for faculty and staff traveling abroad in case of sickness or an accident while on College business. This insurance covers medical treatment and/or evacuation if the region is not under quarantine orders. In case of a medical emergency, the employee should first seek medical treatment if needed and contact Public Safety. The contact information for the AIG Work Risk assistance line in the United States is (713) 260-5500.

Screenshot of the WorldRisk CrisisResponse emergency action card

Photo credit. Emergency Action Card

Additional Resources