ISS COVID-19 Information
*Last Updated 06/11/2020
You are not required to leave KU or Lawrence. This is your current home and we will work to help you stay and finish the semester here if you would like. Staying may be the least complicated way to manage everything at this time. However, we certainly understand the many emotions involved in this decision.
Student considering travel outside the United States should read the ISS COVID-19 Student FAQ for specific information regarding students.
There are several issues you must consider if you wish to depart the United States and then consider for your return to KU.
Many airlines have significantly reduced the number of flights they offer. Even if US states relax stay at home orders, it may still be very difficult to find a flight to return home. Please check your home country embassy website to see if they will have any additional requirements for you, such as a negative COVID-19 test result or being self-quarantined when you return home.
Since early February there have been five US Presidential Proclamations issued that have stopped entry to the United States for all aliens (immigrants, non-immigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens), who were physically present within the specific country during the 14-day period preceding their attempted entry to the United States. These proclamations have no inherit end date, they can only be lifted by the President, and so, are still active and prevent people from entering the United States.
- China Travel Proclamation - began Feb 2, 2020. (link to proclamation)
- Iran Travel Proclamation - began March 2, 2020. (link to proclamation)
- European Schengen Area Travel Proclamation (26 countries) - began March 13, 2020. (link to proclamation)
*note: the European Schengen area includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
- Ireland and United Kingdom Travel Proclamation - began March 16, 2020. (link to proclamation)
- Brazil Travel Proclamation - began May 26, 2020. (link to proclamation)
The Department of State Visa Office does not maintain a COVID-19 portal page with information dedicated to U.S. visas, although they do issue news alerts. On March 20, they issued a news alert that the Department of State has suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. This is important because everyone who is not a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident needs a visa to enter the United States (except Canadian citizens) and right now they are not able to apply for a visa. We do not know when these services will resume.
On April 8, they messaged that U.S. embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services, which include medical professionals, particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19. If you have hired or will hire a medical professional who is working on COVID-19, please contact ISS for help with emergency visa support.
A June 3 Department of Transportation order set to automatically go into effect on June 16, will “suspend scheduled passenger operations of all Chinese carrier to and from the United States.” The next day, the New York Times reported that “Beijing will allow limited flights by international carriers to resume after the White House threatened to block Chinese passenger jest from flying to the U.S.”
According to DOT, the Civil Aviation Authority of China "responded by revising its restrictions to permit U.S. carriers the ability to operate one flight per week each." On June 5, the Department of Transportation issued an amended order that selected Chinese airlines could operate two flights per week.
Practically, Chinese nationals wishing to return home because they graduated or finished their research program or employment at KU have not been able to return home because flights back to China have been severely limited. Previously only Chinese airlines were offering one flight per week. Now that US carriers will be able to offer one flight per week as well, this should increase the number of flights, but it remains to be seen if this will be enough.
Two Federal Register notices published on March 24 (border with Canada | border with Mexico) announced the decision to temporarily allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for “essential travel” only. These restrictions have been extended twice and are currently in effect until June 22, 2020. They will probably be extended again. The good news is that essential travel seems to include both individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; and individuals traveling to work in the United States. Please note that at this time it is only land ports of entry, both air and sea crossings should not be used. They need to drive across.[SW2]
Planning your self-isolation after entering the United States
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention requires that everyone who enters the United States is expected to self-isolate for at least 14-days and monitor their health and practice social distancing. This means that you should arrive at least 14-days before you are expected to start classes, begin work, or begin your research agenda at KU.
Where can I go to find information on COVID-19 in Lawrence?
Each day, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) provides updates on the number of COVID-19 cases in Kansas and each of its counties. Lawrence is in Douglas County. The KDHE, which is the state organization tasked with responding to COVID-19, also holds regular press conferences and issues state-wide health notices.
For local updates, visit Douglas County Coronavirus Response Hub. Using information from health agencies and local governments, this site provides information on the daily number of cases in Douglas County. It also gives information about the Stay at Home Order, which went into effect on March 24. It also answers frequently asked questions. Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, which is the local agency organizing response efforts in Douglas County, is also a good source of information.
For a broader view of what is happening in our community and state, you can read our community’s local newspapers. The Lawrence Journal-World and Kansas City Star provide daily coverage of COVID-19. All COVID-19-related stories are free to read.
What should I do if I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified a fever, cough, shortness of breath and several other body reactions as symptoms associated with COVID-19. Visit their website to learn more about these symptoms. The site also has a helpful guide to determine if seeking medical care is appropriate.
If you develop a fever and symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, please call your healthcare provider immediately. Their health care provider will provide guidance on testing. Those who use Watkins Health Services as their health care provider, they should call 785-864-9500. If you need to call outside of regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), they can call the Nurse Helpline at 785-864-9583, which is available 24 hours a day.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
Please first call your primary health care provider. If a health care provider determines a test is necessary, the patient’s physician will place an order with LMH Health, then direct the patient to the hospital’s testing site, the Respiratory Evaluation Center. If you do not have a primary care provider, please contact Watkins Health Center.
Whether you stay in Lawrence, or leave for elsewhere in the US or overseas, ISS will continue to maintain your immigration record.
If you are a student, your legal status will not be impacted by classes being offered online for the rest of the semester. To maintain your status please report any change of address through iHawk using the COVID-19 forms. You must maintain a full course of study in your online courses or get ISS approval before dropping any classes. You can initiate the Reduced Course Load Request through iHawk.
If you are a scholar, maintain your teaching/research program regardless of your location. If you will finish your program at KU please contact ISS to let us know.
Lastly, please send an email to ISS to let us know your travel plans. We will respond and let you know next steps.