Personal international travel recommendations for students, faculty and staff

March 12, 2020

This article was updated on March 15 with new travel restriction information and a correction about guidelines for self-quarantine.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones has shared the following message with the University community, providing recommendations for students, faculty and staff on personal international travel in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Provost Jones' message to the University community:

Dear Penn State Community:

In response to the evolving global outbreak of novel coronavirus, Penn State is announcing new guidance for students and employees who are abroad on vacation or other personal travel, included below. Penn State also has provided guidance for students, faculty and staff who are abroad on official University business or study.

On the evening of March 11, Europe* was elevated to a "Level 3" (Avoid Nonessential Travel) travel designation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On March 14, restrictions on travel from Europe to the United States were extended to include the United Kingdom and Ireland — joining China, Iran and South Korea in this designation. All other countries globally have been raised to a "Level 2" designation (Global COVID-19 Outbreak Notice) by the CDC.

Regarding personal travel, the University urges all students, faculty and staff who are traveling internationally to consider returning home as soon as possible, to stay advised of ongoing travel recommendations from the CDC, and to continue to make the best decisions for your personal health and well-being.

We encourage all members of the University community to stay informed about this rapidly evolving situation, as Penn State guidelines and requirements are likely to continue to change. For the most up-to-date information about Penn State’s actions related to the global outbreak of novel coronavirus, visit

The following offers guidance and resources for community members abroad on personal business:


Consistent with CDC requirements for travelers returning to the United States from CDC “Level 3” countries, Penn State is requiring a 14-day self-quarantine period for travelers before they are permitted on campus. Students and employees who traveled to one of these countries must isolate themselves from others in their place of dwelling while monitoring for signs and symptoms of illness. Since most students will be returning to a home away from campus, students and their families should follow the same recommendations and advice.

University Health Services guidance for home quarantine

  • Stay home except to get medical care — call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • Wear a facemask when you are around other people or pets.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; wash your hands afterward with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer; use soap and water preferentially if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces daily with a household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Monitor your symptoms and if they develop or worsen then call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.

Guidance for household members during quarantine

  • Help with basic needs in terms of food, medications, and other personal needs.
  • Stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible; use a separate bedroom and bathroom if possible.
  • Prohibit visitors without an essential need from coming into the home.
  • Household members should care for any pets.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer; use soap and water preferentially if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • The patient and household members should wear disposable facemasks when in the same room; throw masks away after using them.
  • Avoid sharing household items with the patient.
  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces with a cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly: use disposable gloves while handling; wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer after removing gloves.

If you feel sick

If you spent time abroad during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever or cough or have difficulty breathing:

  • Take your temperature.
  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%-95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Prevention is the best way to limit the spread of disease. If you find that you are not feeling well after returning, then please seek medical care as described. Otherwise, quarantine yourself for the specified time so that if you do become ill, the risk of spread of your illness to others is minimal.

The health and well-being of Penn State students, faculty, staff and visitors is the University’s highest priority. These actions are being taken to protect the health of the Penn State community and to assist in preventing the spread of coronavirus on and near our campuses.

Nick Jones

Executive Vice President and Provost


* For a full list of European countries included in the CDC's Level 3 designation, visit

Last Updated March 15, 2020