The USD(P&R) Authorized Departure Authority Termination memo dated 21 May 2020 is a termination of the authority for personnel overseas to request evacuation under COVID-19 AD. This termination includes anyone who has requested or been approved for AD but have not yet commenced evacuation travel to the U.S. under the Department of State (DOS) AD. It is not terminating the AD for personnel already evacuated to the U.S..
AD authority expired on 7 May 2020 for new enrollees, i.e. no individual who is not already participating in AD will be authorized to avail themselves of AD. Individuals who have AD travel orders to depart their permanent duty station (PDS) that were approved prior to 7 MAY 2020 will be permitted to travel to participate in AD up through 26 May 2020. Individuals who received AD travel orders, but their travel has not commenced, will have their AD travel orders canceled/ rescinded.
For those currently evacuated, the AD period is approved for extension by the State Department in 30 day increments, the current 30 day increment expires on 11 June. It is also expected that this unique global AD will terminate country by country depending on the local conditions of the country. Once (DOS) officials terminate the AD for a certain country, then:
The Department of State (DOS) has approved an Authorized Departure from foreign areas to include Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees -- and/or other eligible family members (EFMs) who may need to accompany them - who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD P&R) issued a departure notice that was provided to DoDEA employees on April 1, 2020.
The USD P&R issued a modification of the Authorized Departure on April 3, 2020 to allow the election of an alternate safe haven for employees. The modification clarifies that the United States, to include the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the alternate safe haven for departing employees. The previous guidance designated Arlington, Virginia with alternate safe havens in the United States only authorized for eligible family members (EFM).
Based on currently available health information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The DoD Memorandum allows employees to assess whether or not they fall into that category to be eligible.
You can find more information for those who may be at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
DoDEA employees serving on a transportation agreement are included in this voluntary authorized departure. Eligibility of DoDEA employees who are family member hires is determined through their respective sponsors. DoDEA civilian employees occupying mission-essential positions who wish to depart their duty station must consult with their supervisor.
Authorized departures are only permitted when appropriate transportation and reception procedures are in place, consistent with the travel restrictions issued by the Secretary of Defense on March 11, 2020. We are working with the Commands to determine the availability of transportation for any DoDEA employees or family members who may elect to travel.
Pre-travel and post-travel screening and reception procedures will be established for all travelers, to include information regarding prescribed actions for themselves and their EFMs given their particular circumstances. Resource Management (RM) will create the travel orders (DD1610) in the Defense Travel System (DTS) to the designated CONUS safe haven. RM will provide employees a copy of the travel orders, a summary of evacuation allowances, filing instructions, and other relevant guidance. Employees, upon receipt of travel orders, may contact their local SATO for a travel planning and airline ticketing. RM is also available to assist the employee with travel plans.
The DoD has established Arlington, VA as the primary safe haven and the United States, to include the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as the alternate safe haven location for qualifying DoD civilian employees. The safe haven location for qualifying EFMs is the United States.
DoD civilian employees that do not qualify for evacuation but have one or more qualifying EFM that do qualify for AD are authorized to accompany EFMs to a safe haven location in the U.S. if the EFM(s) are not capable of caring for themselves. If there is no adult caregiver in the safe haven location that can care for the EFM(s), the employee is authorized to remain in the safe haven location with the qualifying EFM(s). Otherwise, the employee will return to their primary duty station once the adult caregiver has assumed care of the EFM(s) and the employee has completed the quarantine requirement.
While in the authorized safe haven location, and during any quarantine period, DoDEA employees are expected to work in accordance 5 C.F.R. § 550.409. Unless otherwise directed, evacuated DoDEA teachers will continue providing digital instruction to students of their assigned school. Teachers will adjust their safe haven work schedules as needed to facilitate digital instruction to students located in the school’s host nation. All other DoDEA employees will work from alternate work locations in accordance with their supervisor-approved work plan.
All DoDEA employees and their EFMs eligible for this Authorized Departure should understand that this is a personal, voluntary decision. When assessing the need to evacuate, DoDEA employees should balance their own unique circumstances with conditions at both origin and destination.
Once a qualified employee and EFM are evacuated under this order, they are ineligible to return to the assigned foreign area duty location until the Authorized Departure is officially terminated by the Department of State (DOS). Be advised that while the Authorized Departure is global, the termination by DOS of the evacuation may be regional or country based depending on the changing situation around the globe. Employees and EFM assigned to duty stations where the termination is directed would be expected to return to their duty station to support the reopening of school operations.
COVID-19 poses a rapidly evolving situation and, according to the CDC, poses a serious public health risk. Employees are advised to research the availability of services, including medical care, at the safe haven destination in making a decision for themselves and their eligible family members.
As circumstances surrounding COVID 19 continue to evolve, DoDEA is continuing to explore authorized educational options for students whose sponsor chooses to evacuate from overseas areas pursuant to the authorized departure. At the present time and until further notice, school-aged EFMs enrolled in a DoDEA school in a foreign nation whose sponsor chooses to evacuate may be authorized to remain enrolled in the same DoDEA school while temporarily relocated in a safe haven location as long as the DoDEA school provides digital instruction, the sponsor/student remain assigned to the overseas location and intend to return to the overseas location when permitted to do so, and the student is not enrolled in another school option.
Once the DoDEA school re-establishes normal school operations and discontinues digital instruction practices, DoDEA EFMs must then enroll in a local education agency supporting the safe haven location or request an exception to DoDEA policy for early withdrawal from the DoDEA school which will be considered on a case-by-case basis, or return to the overseas location to attend the DoDEA school (if authorized to return).
Once the Authorized Departure (AD) is terminated by the Department of State, it is mandatory that each traveler reconcile the travel return travel within 3 days with their respective Region Resource Management team who provided initial departure orders to assist with return travel arrangements. For those who did not utilize SATO, airfare will be reimbursed up to the government constructed cost upon conclusion of the Authorized Departure.
1. Does an employee have to pack out or store their household goods (HHG) and privately owned vehicle (POV) before evacuating?
ANSWER: No, the evacuation is temporary in nature with the intent that employees will return to their permanent duty station (PDS) when the evacuation (authorized departure) is terminated.
2. Is there any eligibility other than the self-identification in accordance with CDC high-risk criteria?
ANSWER: No, this evacuation only applies to employees and EFMs on a transportation agreement to a foreign area and that have a condition that puts them at a higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19. In addition, once an employee is deemed eligible, the DoDEA Director must also approve a waiver to the DoD COVID-19 Travel Restriction to permit employees and EFMs to travel under the AD to a safe haven location.
3. Will evacuating employees have to provide proof of their eligibility to their supervisors?
ANSWER: Employees must only self-identify/confirm. There is no requirement to provide supporting documentation; however, the request form makes clear the liability an employee faces if knowingly making fraudulent claims. To support a waiver of the DoD travel restrictions, employees must provide information as to why they haven’t previously requested authorized departure and/or what circumstances have changed since the 1 April 2020 Authorized Departure memo.
4. How long will the evacuation opportunity be open for employees to decide if they will evacuate?
ANSWER: DoDEA employees can request evacuation at any time until the AD authority is terminated based on commensurate justification in the foreign area.
5. Do employees risk losing their current position if taking the evacuation offer?
6. Where will evacuated employees go for IT support?
ANSWER: IT support will be provided virtually by the employee's current IT Customer Support personnel.
7. Will evacuated employees be allowed to shop at commissaries as they do overseas?
ANSWER: Installation commanders may only authorize commissary privileges when it is impractical for the DoD civilian employee evacuees to procure commissary supplies from civilian stores.
8. Where will employees go to get their CACs unlocked and renewed?
ANSWER: Locations to reset the CAC and the required documentation can be found here. Alternate temporary network logons may be established by IT customer support if the situation deems necessary.
9. How will employees get their official passports renewed?
ANSWER: If an evacuated employee or EFM has an official passport issue while in a safe haven location, the DoDEA Headquarters HR Visa/Passport Office is available at HQPassports@dodea.edu to personally assist evacuated employees, subject to State Department processing procedures in place during the AD period. Please note that at this time, the Passport Office is suspending issuing passports due to the COVID-19 event.
10. Will there be an email-box for evacuated employees to send their questions to for answers?
ANSWER: Yes; however, prior to evacuation, employees are asked to provide evacuation-related questions through their supervisory chain. Once in transit or in a safe haven location, evacuees can use the DoDEA Headquarters COVID-19 Helpdesk for questions and to request assistance. The DoDEA COVID-19 Helpdesk is a 24/7 operation. Helpdesk contact information will be provided to employees prior to their departure. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 703-438-1075.
11. Will there be a dedicated DoDEA webpage for information on Authorized Departure matters?
ANSWER: Yes, DoDEA has a page established at https://www.dodea.edu/COVID-departures.cfm. The information on the webpage is updated regularly to ensure the most current information is available to DoDEA employees.
12. Does the AD meet the requirements as qualifying Life Changing Event for FEHB?
ANSWER: The authorized departure allows the employee the opportunity to enroll in a health plan based on the event code 1J. "Transfer from post of duty within a State of the United States or the District of Columbia to post of duty outside a State of the United States or District of Columbia, or reverse." Employee may elect the following FEHB coverage: from not enrolled to enroll, from self to family, or self plus one, cancel, from one plan to another plan option, participate on premium conversion, or waive by completing the SF 2809 and submitting to CHRA via GRB along with a copy of their AD orders.
13. Does the AD meet the requirements as qualifying Life Changing Event for FEGLI purposes Life insurance?
ANSWER: No. The authorized departure is not a qualifying life event for life insurance. You may cancel your waiver and elect any FEGLI coverage, including Basic insurance, Option A, Option B, and Option C, based on a FEGLI qualifying life event. FEGLI qualifying life events include: Marriage; Divorce; Death of a spouse; Acquiring an eligible child. See section 101 (a) (13) of Title 10.
14. How will EVT and EDMT travel be handled?
ANSWER: At this time, all (official travel) government-funded travel must be processed through appropriate Resource Management (RM) channels. All travel will require a Mission Essential Travel Request (METR) packet to be processed in accordance with DoDEA's Activity Travel Request Guidance memorandum. HQ RM is aware of the need for urgency with EVT and EDMT requests and will expedite processing of any related METRs.
15. If a school reopens while school employees are evacuated under the AD, can the employees continue to work from their safe haven/alternate work location?
ANSWER: If DoDEA reopens a school while the Authorized Departure (AD) remains in effect, school employees evacuated under the AD can remain in and continue to work from their safe haven/alternate work location. If the AD is terminated in conjunction with the decision to reopen a DoDEA school, school employees would then be expected to return to the permanent duty station in accordance with termination instructions to resume normal school operations. In either case, Weather and Safety Leave would not be authorized.
16. Is an employee's Home of Record (HOR) an option as an alternate work location?
ANSWER: Yes, an employee’s HOR is an option for the alternate worksite as long as the HOR is located within the 50 states and the District of Columbia (the designated AD alternate safe haven).
17. Can an employee change their safe haven location once he or she has evacuated and established themselves (and/or their EFMs) in a safe haven location?
ANSWER: No, once a safe haven location has been established, an employee cannot change the safe haven location.
18. Will employees continue to receive LQA during the evacuation?
ANSWER: Yes, as long as the employee continues to qualify for LQA.
19. Are employees required to pay state taxes during the time they are in a safe haven location?
ANSWER: No, as long as the employee intends to return to (or PCS to) their PDS at the conclusion of the AD.
20. Will employees receive their normal compensation? If not, what changes will there be?
ANSWER: See the DoDEA Evacuation Pay and allowance guidance now available to DoDEA personnel. The information can be found on the DoDEA COVID-19 webpage.
21. Will evacuated employees have to find lodging on their own or will DoDEA reserve lodging for them?
ANSWER: Employees must find lodging on their own. The DoDEA Resource Management Office will assist evacuating employees with flights arrangements, but ultimately it is the employee's responsibility to secure both, transportation and lodging. For lodging allowances, go to here.
22. If employees have to find their own lodging, can it be in a long-term rental instead of a hotel?
ANSWER: The employee can enter into a long-term rental, but if the cost of the agreement exceeds the safe haven lodging allowance, the employee must pay the extra cost out of pocket. If the AD ends prior to the termination of a long-term rental lease agreement, the employee would also be responsible for any costs incurred after the AD termination. For lodging allowances, go to here.
23. Will lodging for evacuated employees be restricted to Arlington, VA?
ANSWER: No, the DoD has recently published a change that identifies the United States (50 states and the District of Columbia) as the alternate safe haven for this AD.
24. If evacuated employees are required to continue to work from an alternate work location and that alternate work location is a hotel, will DoDEA compensate employees who have to upgrade to paid internet connectivity for access to faster internet service?
ANSWER: On a case by case basis, the RM may grant special allowance payments to offset the direct added expenses incidental to performing work from an alternative location during a pandemic health crisis. Employees should attempt to find lodging with WIFI services provided at no charge. If unavailable in the safe haven location, the employee should inform RM by email.
25. Will post allowance be stopped automatically or will employees have to go into DAPS to stop it?
ANSWER: DoDEA and CHRA will work to suspend post allowance for evacuated employees as appropriate. Employees will not be required to take any action in DAPS.
26. Upon termination of the AD, is there a grace period for continuation of Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA) until the day an evacuee returns to post? What if the employee is being transferred and not returning to post?
ANSWER: Upon termination of an evacuation order, an employee or EFM will continue to receive SEA for an automatic grace period of three (3) days except when the full 180 days has expired, per DSSR 635. For the employee not returning to post, only the three (3) days are allowed as long as he/she has not commenced travel under an assignment order to another duty location. For employees/family members returning to the evacuated post, an additional seven (7) days may be authorized due to transportation delays. Evacuees must provide a statement on their travel voucher justifying the additional seven (7) days required to arrange for return travel to post, such as airline reservations and air freight pick up. Other reasons of a personal nature do not qualify the evacuee for SEA for the additional days. Under no circumstance can SEA payments be made to exceed the 180-day "clock".
27. Will the government provide chartered transportation or will employees have to procure their own travel arrangements and, if so, will travel have to be made through SATO?
ANSWER: The DoD does not intend to arrange chartered transportation; however, the DoDEA RM Office will be available to assist DoDEA employees in making flight arrangements. The employee is not required to use SATO, but it is recommended. Since the duration of the AD is not known, evacuating employees should only purchase one-way tickets.
28. Will there be additional flights added for employees evacuating from Cuba?
ANSWER: The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness authorized the voluntary evacuation of DoD-affiliated civilian personnel assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on April 24, 2020. It is not known at this rime if the DoD or the Navy will provide additional flights to accommodate evacuation requirements.
29. If the AD is terminated during the summer recess period, can employees stay in the United States and return via government-funded travel at a later date?
ANSWER: Yes, employees in a non-pay status (i.e. employees assigned to a teaching position) can remain in the United States at the conclusion of the AD and return at a later date via government-funded transportation during the summer recess period. Employees in a pay status (i.e. GS employees) can remain in the United States at the conclusion of the AD but must be in a supervisory-approved leave status. In all cases, SEA allowances are terminated immediately upon termination of the AD. Employees should immediately inform their supervisor and the DoDEA Resource Management Office of their intent to remain in the United States if AD termination occurs during the summer recess period.
30. What will be the impact on the duty-day count for renewal agreement travel (RAT) and other benefits for evacuated teachers?
ANSWER: Teachers will continue digital instruction while in an evacuation status, so the evacuation will not impact the duty-day count. This includes the time teachers are providing instructional services while in a mandated 14-day quarantine status.
31. What will be the impact on RAT for evacuated educators?
ANSWER: TP/190-day Educators: Because RAT must be initiated from the 190-day educator's PDS and is only available during the summer recess period, the 190-day educator cannot take RAT in conjunction with the AD. GS Employees: Provide RAT-related questions.
32. Can an employee postpone RAT for one year without having to adjust the current 2-year RAT cycle?
ANSWER: Employees are permitted to postpone their RAT until the next year, but when an employee takes RAT, they will sign a new transportation agreement for the tour of duty of their area. If their tour of duty is a 2- year tour, the employee would not be eligible to take RAT again for another 2 years (2023).
33. If employees are unable to use their RAT authorization during the summer recess period, can they use the RAT authorization (funds) during the Christmas (winter) break?
ANSWER: Employees assigned to 190-day teaching positions are only authorized to use RAT during the summer recess period. All other DoDEA employees can use their RAT authorization at any time during the calendar year.
34. On April 20, the DoD stop movement order was extended to June 30. If teachers fund their own travel home between the end of the school year and the stop movement order expiration, can they get reimbursed for RAT?
ANSWER: If DoD Travel Restrictions to Coronavirus Disease have not been terminated, employees authorized RAT should not use orders to travel. RAT does not qualify as an exception to the travel restrictions. Please note, employees will not be reimbursed if they travel during the travel restrictions unless they have the travel waiver memo issued by the DoDEA Director.
35. Although there are travel restrictions in place, can employees still submit their summer RAT requests?
ANSWER: Yes, employees can submit their RAT requests now.
36. What will be the impact on permanent change of station (PCS) for evacuated employees?
ANSWER: Generally, due to the 11 March DoD Stop Movement Order, employees must first return to their permanent duty station; therefore, once an employee is in an evacuation status, they will be unable to PCS until the AD is terminated, the employee returns to their PDS, and the 11 March DoD Stop Movement Order is terminated or the employee receives a waiver to the order. Exceptions can be requested to DoDEA Resource Management Office on a case-by-case basis.
37. What impact will the AD have on retiring employees?
ANSWER: Retiring employees that wish to evacuate can exercise one of three options: 1) Ship household goods (HHG) and privately owned vehicle (POV) prior to evacuation and then retire at any time during the AD; 2) provide a Power of Attorney to a trusted agent at their PDS to ship HHG and POV on their behalf in the event the employee cannot return to their PDS due to the AD and does not want to delay their retirement date; and 3) delay their retirement until after the AD. It is important for retiring employees to understand that once they retire, they are no longer employees as of their effective date and, subsequently, no longer eligible for AD-related allowances.
Resource Management and Human Resources points of contact at your respective District Superintendent Offices are the best people to contact with questions.