Iowa public universities’ international travel ban lifted by Board of Regents a year later

The state Board of Regents lifted the international travel ban Thursday morning, allowing students, faculty, and staff to resume travel outside of the U.S. at the direction of each individual university.


Thomas A. Stewart

Various flags are seen on Monday, October 15, 2018. There are 120 flags being displayed on the Iowa Memorial Union Pedestrian Bridge to recognize the international students on campus.

Sabine Martin, News Reporter

The state Board of Regents lifted the international travel ban of all faculty, staff, and students for regent-governed universities on Thursday morning. 

The university-sponsored ban was set in motion almost a year ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Regents President Mike Richards said the decision for this comes as conditions of COVID-19 continue to improve. 

“As of now, decisions regarding university-sponsored student, faculty and staff travel shall be made by the president of each university,” Richards’ official statement said. 

University of Iowa foreign-exchange and university-sponsored student international travel is still canceled through Aug. 1. UI Director of Media Relations Anne Bassett wrote in an email to the DI that the UI will provide additional information based upon this new guidance to campus by March 17.

While the initial travel ban has been lifted, the State of Emergency for the regent universities that was issued on March 18, 2020, is still in effect, the statement said. 

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the regents implemented a 30-day university-sponsored international travel ban on March 5, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health recommended postponing foreign-exchange programs at universities.

Faculty, staff, and students that were already out of the country during this time were asked to return from any country that the CDC designated a Level 3, meaning people were advised to avoid nonessential travel to the country. The CDC has not issued new travel guidance as the weather warms, cases decline and more people are vaccinated. However, CDC guidance states that people who are vaccinated may gather in small groups with other vaccinated people or with low-risk individuals who are unvaccinated. However, everyone should still wear masks in public, the CDC’s guidance states.

Prior to the 30-day travel ban, the UI had already suspended study-abroad programs to China, South Korea, Italy, and Japan because of COVID-19 concerns.

On March 14, 2020, the regents directed universities to recall all faculty, students, and staff that were outside of the country.