The University continues to prioritize the health and well-being of its community members and the academic excellence required of our mission in all of its decisions. Pepperdine promises a transformational experience for our students, and neither well-being nor excellence can be compromised if we are to fulfill our mission during the ongoing pandemic. Decisions are made carefully and with every community member in mind. Accordingly, the University has implemented a comprehensive list of guidelines to protect our community from serious illness, and will continue to evaluate conditions and adapt our approach appropriately.
In accordance with our commitments to the community and students, based upon a thorough assessment of a wide range of data, and consistent with our previous announcements, all schools and programs which did not yet begin on-ground instruction earlier this week will do so, effective Thursday, January 13. Programs designed to be online will remain online.
Determining Academic and Community Guidelines
The University made this decision (like other decisions throughout the pandemic) while considering a number of factors including, but not limited to:
- the goal of delivering in-person academic instruction for programs scheduled to be on-ground;
- the mental health of our students and the quality of their educational experience;
- the COVID-19 testing positivity rate within the Pepperdine community in relation to Los Angeles County;
- the avoidance of severe illness and hospitalizations within the Pepperdine community;
- vaccination rates within our community;
- the impact on operational capacity within our faculty and staff communities;
- isolation and quarantine capacity;
- county, state, federal, and CDC public health mandates and guidance; and
- varying needs of our community members.
We know this semester will be different, and there is no environment in which we will be without COVID-19 cases. We also recognize there are varying degrees of risk tolerance in our community. While we cannot eliminate all cases, our multi-layered approach to infection control best positions us to minimize virus spread, respond to community concerns, and keep our transformational education experiences in place.
Our approach includes health and safety guidelines which go above and beyond those which are required by the L.A. County Department of Public Health (one of the most cautious jurisdictions):
- L.A. County requires upgraded masks for faculty and staff. The University is also requiring and providing upgraded masks for students during this period as well.
- L.A. County requires testing for those not fully up to date on their vaccinations. The University is continuing to require weekly screening tests for all community members, regardless of vaccination status.
- The University also required all students to complete an entry test prior to returning to any of our campuses.
- The University established an additional one-time requirement for students to provide negative test results from Pepperdine-administered PCR testing prior to attending their in-person classes for the first time this semester.
- The University made available take-home tests free-of-charge for community members prior to the holiday break.
- The University verified all HVAC systems for every academic and administrative space meet or exceed COVID-19 related guidance from (i) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (ii) Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and (iii) American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers.
COVID-19 Testing Requirements Prior to Attending First In-Person Classes
As indicated above, all classes scheduled to meet on-ground will resume in-person academic instruction beginning Thursday, January 13. Before attending their first in-person class, all students must receive a negative PCR test result from a Pepperdine testing site (unless exempt due to a documented positive test for COVID-19 within the last 90 days). Faculty class rosters will include a column indicating compliance with this one-time requirement. To account for any lag in the upload of received results, students may show their Pepperdine-administered negative PCR test result to their faculty member if their compliance status has not yet been updated.
Individuals are eligible to receive a booster five months after their second dose of Pfizer/Moderna or two months after their original dose of Johnson & Johnson. The University strongly encourages students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated and to receive an mRNA booster shot (Pfizer or Moderna) as soon as eligible. Numerous studies demonstrate the booster’s effectiveness to drastically reduce instances of serious illness due to COVID-19.
In accordance with new LACDPH guidelines, those exposed to someone with COVID-19 and identified as a close contact will be required to quarantine unless fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible for the booster dose. Please take a moment to review the University’s quarantine and isolation guidelines.
The University will host several upcoming vaccine and booster clinics this month. RSVP using the following links:
- January 13: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f4aa4ac2ba5f5c43-rite4
- January 14: https://kordinator.mhealthcoach.net/vcl/1618591555769
- January 27: https://kordinator.mhealthcoach.net/vcl/1618591555769
Boosters and vaccines are readily available at many local pharmacies as well. After receiving a booster, students should immediately upload proof of the booster dose through the Student Patient Portal by following the instructions found on the COVID-19 Community Response Plan website.
The University remains attentive to the current pandemic conditions and is confident in our ability to deliver academic excellence with appropriate safety measures. The University’s COVID-19 screening test positivity rate is significantly lower than testing positivity in the wider Los Angeles County. Our campus has comprehensive, layered infection control measures in place and continues to respond to changing conditions.
While the rise in cases due to Omicron has been steep, some modeling suggests that California’s COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant will peak within 1-2 weeks. If California follows the same progression as other areas which experienced earlier Omicron spikes, the case rates could decline as quickly as they rose. Additionally, unlike the winter COVID-19 surge in 2020, where most hospitalizations occurred because of COVID-19 complications, LA County reports the majority of patients at LA County hospitals infected with COVID-19 were admitted for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.Pepperdine is resilient and well-prepared to address the challenge in front of us. So many of you have been heroic in your service. Thank you for your dedication to Pepperdine and our students. As always, the University will continue to evaluate the incoming data and evolving best practices to prioritize the health and safety of our community. If you have any questions, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.