International Travel

Many Grinnellians and their families are understandably worried and wondering about current and upcoming international travel. Grinnell College leadership, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), and the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and how it may impact travel. The College refers to both the U.S. State Department travel warning system and the CDC to make decisions about all student-related travel. We also monitor information provided by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, World Health Organization, GeoBlue/Drum Cussac, study abroad partners, and various news sources.

As changes in circumstances warrant, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) will communicate with students, faculty, staff, and parents about international programs and travel developments that may impact them.

March 4, 2020 Update

In response to the evolving coronavirus COVID-19 situation, the Grinnell College COVID-19 Planning Team has been in communication with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) for the most up-to-date advice, and has been told that the IDPH will issue new recommendations that non-essential college- and university-sponsored international travel be postponed or cancelled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued recommendations that all non-essential international travel should be suspended.

In deference to the IDPH’s authority and the guidelines issued by the CDC, and in the effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19, Grinnell College administration has made the difficult decision to suspend upcoming College-sponsored international travel for all students, staff, and faculty until further notice. This suspension includes faculty-led programs, externships, MAPs, and independent research abroad. This decision does not apply to faculty and staff already abroad nor to Off-Campus Study students currently on their Spring program (unless the study abroad program makes a future decision to suspend). We are grateful for the work of the many campus partners who are coming together to provide care and support for students, faculty, and staff in these situations.

We know that this news is disheartening. Please know this decision was not made lightly. The more we engage in preventative measures, the more we can protect individuals who are vulnerable to the virus. We are committed to keeping in communication with the campus community as this rapidly evolving situation unfolds.

For international students, faculty, and staff—in addition to considering the health risks of travel—we ask you to be diligent about standard travel reminders regarding the documents you carry. As of today, the entry bar for non-citizens is specific to individuals who have been physically present in China within 14 days of entry. Since the situation is evolving, it is imperative to consider the potential for additional border restrictions, which could be impacted by immigration status, country of nationality, and country or region recently visited.

For any non-College-sponsored international travel, please be aware that governmental and health organization directives are evolving daily and that requirements for re-entry to the United States may change accordingly. Please consult the CDC website for the latest international travel information.

Questions or comments about the College’s coronavirus response can be submitted via a Qualtrics form. Please note: this form is for non-emergency communications only; individuals seeking urgent care or assistance should call Campus Security at 641-269-4600 or call “911.”


Grinnell College: International Student Affairs staff

Grinnell College: Institute for Global Engagement staff

CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel website

DOS: U.S Department of State Travel Advisories

NAFSA: Coronavirus Resources

OSAC: Overseas Security Advisory Council

WHO: World Health Organization

GeoBlue/Drum Cussac

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