University officials continue to monitor the evolving research, announced rules, and best practices surrounding the pandemic. As part of this effort, the University is announcing the following COVID-19 updates:
Recently, with the decline in COVID-19 cases, California Department of Public Health officials announced they would not extend the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals when it expires on February 15, 2022 (though the State still mandates masking for those not vaccinated). As you know, county rules may be more restrictive than state protocols, and that remains the case in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials have noted the County’s mask mandates will remain in place for all individuals regardless of vaccination status, and the County will not consider reducing these restrictions until certain specific thresholds regarding hospitalizations, vaccines, and weekly case rates are met.
With the County mandates still in place, the University’s current face covering policy will remain in effect until further notice. As a reminder, the policy requires all students, staff, and faculty to wear medical grade masks while indoors. Masks continue to be available for pickup at weekly screening test locations.
Post Spring Break Testing
As a precautionary measure, Pepperdine strongly encourages students who are traveling for spring break to take their own test before returning to campus. These tests do not need to be documented as entry tests were before the beginning of the term, but are important as one measure to protect against the risk of transmission after travel. At this time, the University does not have an inventory of home test kits to provide, but continues to pursue options to make kits available to the community.
At University weekly screening testing sites, early testing on your first week back on campus following spring break is strongly encouraged. Please complete your weekly screening test within 48 hours of your arrival back on campus.
Free Government COVID-19 Antigen Tests
As of January 19, every residential address in the US is eligible to order four, free, at-home COVID-19 tests from COVIDTests.gov, and we encourage all community members to order your tests. Residential students should be sure to include their mailbox number in the address line.
Remember, antigen tests are also available at pharmacies, large retailers, some county testing sites, medical providers, etc., and costs for these tests can be reimbursed through your health insurance if needed.
Boosters are shown to protect individuals against severe illness from COVID-19. In support of the community, the University continues to offer vaccine and booster clinics. The next two clinics will take place on Tuesday, February 22 and Friday, March 11.
Reserve your appointment for either vaccination clinic using these links:
Remember, if you are fully vaccinated and have received your booster, if eligible, you will not be required to quarantine if identified as a close contact with someone who tested positive. Students should document receipt of their booster dose in the Student Health Center Patient Portal.
Utilizing the START and EXIT Forms
Students, faculty, and staff members, please use the START Form to report (1) a positive COVID-19 result from tests not taken at the on-campus weekly testing sites or the Student Health Center, or (2) an exposure to a positive case not in the Pepperdine community. The START Form is available on the COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website.
Additionally, students, faculty, and staff members should utilize the EXIT Form to document completion of isolation or quarantine, whether testing out early or completing the full 10-day period. This confirms a student is cleared to return to in-person classes or an employee is cleared to return to work.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and partnership. If you have any questions, please contact the University’s COVID-19 information line at 310.506.8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an effort to keep the Pepperdine community informed, the University is announcing the following COVID-19 updates:
While Pepperdine’s COVID-19 metrics continue to improve, the University is extending the policy requiring students to wear surgical masks or KN95/N95 masks in all indoor campus settings until at least February 15. As a reminder, faculty and staff are also required to wear these upgraded masks. Please remember masks are required in all public indoor spaces, especially including classrooms, hallways, and the fitness center.
The University has so far been successful in procuring these types of masks, which will continue to be available for pick up by faculty, staff, and students at any of the Malibu or graduate campus COVID-19 screening test sites. Upon showing a Pepperdine ID card, community members will be provided with a weekly supply of medical grade masks.
START Form for Self- Reporting COVID-19 Positive Cases and Exposures
It is important the University is aware of positive tests and close contacts. As you know, the University automatically receives test results from tests taken at the Student Health Center and the weekly screening testing sites on campuses after which it begins contact tracing on these cases.
As a reminder, positive COVID-19 tests conducted outside the University and close contact exposures should also be reported by faculty, staff, and students. To simplify this notification process, the University is launching a new START Form to make it easier to report positive test results from tests NOT taken at the Student Health Center or at campus testing sites.
Students, staff, and faculty should use this START Form to:
- Report a positive COVID-19 test result taken anywhere other than at the Student Health Center or a Pepperdine screening test site.
- Self-identify as a close contact if exposed to a COVID-19 case and if not yet contacted by University contact tracers. (Remember, close contact is defined as being within six feet of a positive case for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.)
EXIT Form for Release from Quarantine and Isolation
If you are in isolation or quarantine, the University is also simplifying the process to exit quarantine or isolation. When you qualify to end your quarantine or isolation period, you should complete the EXIT Form. This communicates to the University you have met the qualifications to exit and are leaving isolation or quarantine. It also generates an email sent to you, which can be used to confirm your ability to return to class or work if needed (class rosters will also be updated).
The well-being of the University community is integral to the Pepperdine mission, and boosters are shown to protect individuals against severe illness. In support of the community, the University will continue to offer vaccine and booster clinics. The University will host another vaccine and booster clinic on January 27 and will continue to add additional clinics throughout the coming weeks.
You can reserve your spot for the January 27 clinic at the following link: https://kordinator.mhealthcoach.net/vcl/1618591555769
If you are eligible for a booster but have not yet received it, you will have to enter quarantine if exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. If you are fully vaccinated and received your booster, if eligible, you will not be required to quarantine if identified as a close contact with someone who tested positive. Once boosted, students should document this updated vaccination status within the Student Health Center Patient Portal to ensure the accuracy of University records.
If you have questions, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at email@example.com.
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.
We pray that you have been able to spend time with loved ones during the holiday period. We miss you and look forward to being together again this spring. The University leadership has been meeting regularly while closely monitoring COVID-19 conditions in Los Angeles County, at Pepperdine campuses, and at other institutions. Based on these discussions and an assessment of the current situation, employees should return to campuses after the holiday break on January 3 unless operating under an approved remote working arrangement or otherwise directed by a supervisor. Pepperdine’s schools have varying start dates, with some graduate school programs beginning January 3, while other graduate school programs and Seaver College begin on January 10.
In recognition that Omicron cases are anticipated to continue to increase, the University is putting in place additional protective measures, while limiting disruption to campus activities and reducing the risk of serious complications from infection. Throughout the fall semester, the Pepperdine community consistently maintained a markedly lower positivity rate than the County population in general through our rigorous testing, masking, and contact tracing protocols. In many ways, the demonstrated success of our participation in these processes and procedures has prepared us well for the start of the spring semester.
The health and safety of our community and the quality of the educational experience continue to remain paramount. It was for this reason the university-wide communication on December 10 announced all students would be required to test negative within 72 hours prior to returning to any of our campuses. As detailed below, that requirement remains in full effect. Additionally, in light of the current trends every student must – prior to attending a class in person at a Southern California campus – also receive a negative test result from a Pepperdine screening testing site.
Accordingly, the University is adapting our spring semester start as follows:
- International Programs departures will proceed as scheduled. Further information will be forthcoming from the International Programs Office.
- Graduate courses scheduled to meet in person beginning January 3 will proceed remotely for the first week to allow for appropriate testing as described above, which cannot be provided to these participants prior to the start of the semester. These programs will resume in person instruction the week commencing January 10 based on individual school directives communicated by graduate school deans. Only students who have tested negative may attend in person class,
- Seaver New Student Orientation for those joining our community this spring will require all participants, including family members, to take a rapid antigen test on campus and receive a negative test result before joining activities.
- Classes scheduled to begin in person during the week of January 10 will be conducted remotely on January 10, 11, and 12 to allow students to take a PCR test at a Pepperdine testing site on campus and receive results. We anticipate that classes will resume in person on January 13.
To join in person classes on January 13, students must plan accordingly and test at a Pepperdine testing site on Saturday, January 8 or Monday, January 10. Only students who have tested negative may attend in person class. Detailed information will be sent from each school dean shortly.
Upon returning for the Spring semester, students should take appropriate precautions such as masking and distancing. It is imperative that all safety protocols be followed closely, especially as students await initial test results. To limit close contacts during this time period, the University’s dining service venues will provide meals in a grab-and-go format.
Additionally, we are informed that in a few days, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (“LADPH”) will announce an updated health order for Institutions of Higher Education that will continue to authorize in-person learning and living, even anticipating a rise in cases due to the Omicron variant. To mitigate this anticipated increased transmission, LADPH will likely create several new requirements. LADPH has indicated it may require weekly testing of all individuals regardless of vaccination status – a measure Pepperdine already has in place. LADPH will also likely encourage upgraded masking, utilizing surgical or N95 masks. In order to ensure that faculty, staff, and students have easy access to these masks, Pepperdine is securing an ongoing supply of these masks for our community, adding to an existing inventory of nearly 30,000 pieces. While the CDC has changed quarantine and isolation guidance, California and LADPH have not yet adopted these updates; the University will notify the community when these agencies announce their final guidance.
For in-person programming – including classes, residential living, athletics events, etc. – the University’s ability to remain together depends on the collective effort of all of our community members. While Pepperdine enjoyed a high level of compliance with testing, masking, and contact tracing protocols in the Fall, a renewed commitment from our community is necessary in order to meet the challenges posed by the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
In line with the announced LADPH health order, the University directs our community to carefully comply with the following protocols, so the community may remain together and continue in-person instructions during the spring semester.
- Entry test. All students must complete a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before arriving either on campus or for their first in-person University event. Students may take a PCR or antigen test at a healthcare provider or testing site, or use an at-home test. After testing, students must enter their test results into the Spring 2022 Entry Test Reporting Form. The form contains further instructions based on whether the test result was negative or positive.
The University strongly encourages all faculty and staff to complete an entry test as described above. Faculty and staff do not need to report their negative results.
- Prior to attending any class in person, every student must receive a negative PCR test result from a Pepperdine testing site, as described above.
- Weekly Screening Tests. Pepperdine will continue to require weekly screening testing for all faculty, staff, and students regardless of vaccination status, as recommended by the current Los Angeles County guidance. The University strongly encourages all faculty and staff members to complete the first week’s screening test within 24-48 hours of arrival back on campus.
Masking Requirements: It is imperative all community members adhere to the LADPH masking guidance. Face coverings will continue to be required for everyone regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status in indoor public settings, on public transit (University shuttles, buses, vans, ride shares), and in healthcare settings. As described above, LADPH may announce changes to the type of face covering for these uses.
Booster Shots: The University strongly encourages all eligible students, faculty, and staff to receive an mRNA booster shot (Moderna or Pfizer) before arrival back on campus or as soon as possible thereafter. The University will host vaccine clinics on January 7 and January 13. These clinics will run from 8AM to 12PM, and each will offer both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and booster doses. Click the links below to RSVP for one of these clinics.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, with your help, the University is adapting to this next phase, which is likely to include higher case counts with less severe illness. This pandemic continues to be unpredictable; therefore, we will remain flexible, and re-evaluate plans whenever necessary. Whatever is to come, Pepperdine will approach this in faith and in solidarity with our community, ensuring we are as prepared as possible and confident in God’s continuing grace.