As COVID-19 continues to impact the United States and the world, it has also surfaced a good question about what we can do to support faculty and staff who have committed to attending professional conferences this semester. The health and well-being of the Pitt community is our priority. We want everyone to be able to make the most informed and prudent decisions about travel without concern that they will incur financial losses should they want to decide against travelling.
We are certainly hearing about an increasing number of organizations that are proactively cancelling events and reimbursing registration fees—and there are usually flexible cancellation policies for hotels and vouchers to cover changes to airline reservations. In addition, international University-business travelers can also explore the ‘trip interruption’ insurance provided by International SOS. Further information about Pitt's travel insurance coverage appears in the Pitt Global Operations Support website.
However, in those instances in which an individual would incur out-of-pocket expenses by deciding to cancel travel, we want to help alleviate any stress or financial burden. While the University’s Travel & Business Expense Policy already allows some exceptions, if faculty or staff wish to cancel plans due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are hereby granting an exception to the policy for any otherwise reimbursable University-related travel booked through May 31, 2020. We will reassess this date as COVID-19 evolves and may extend the deadline as conditions evolve. This applies to both conference expenses paid by schools and regional campuses, as well as grant-funded travel.
To be eligible for reimbursement, faculty and staff will, of course, need to provide documentation showing that there was travel or a conference they had committed to attend. Responsibility Centers should reimburse travelers if they provide that documentation. We will provide additional guidance on that process shortly.