As Pepperdine continues to monitor the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and consider the recommendations set forth by state and local officials, the intention of the Emergency Operations Committee is to make decisions that will protect the health of the University community and their families. Today, California governor Gavin Newsom issued guidance calling for the home isolation of all individuals 65 years or older and those with chronic conditions. Additionally, many school districts surrounding our community have canceled classes, creating urgent childcare needs for some employees.
This guidance is in line with the University’s previous recommendations, including telecommuting for those older than 60, pregnant, autoimmune compromised, or those living with someone who is vulnerable. The University continues to strongly encourage these recommendations.
For all other employees, the University urges supervisors to be as flexible as possible with those expressing an interest to telecommute and those whose work can be effectively done remotely. This evaluation must be done while acknowledging the balance of serving our students and accomplishing necessary work. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring their departments remain functional while we continue to have a large but diminishing number of students on our campuses. Utilizing critical support personnel to handle essential on-campus responsibilities will be important in these times.
Recognizing this is a dynamic public health emergency, additional adjustments to this plan will occur, and employees can expect further communications as we continue to implement plans with your well-being in mind. Human Resources is available to assist in this period of transition.
University officials continue to monitor the situation around the COVID-19 outbreak in Los Angeles and across the globe. This afternoon the president of the United States declared a national state of emergency in an effort to provide new resources to assist in the fight against COVID-19 at the local, state, and national level. In challenging times of great uncertainty, Pepperdine remains committed to assisting our students, faculty, and staff.
Community members are encouraged to take the following actions to stay informed and protect their health:
- Visit Pepperdine’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website, which includes information about the University’s monitoring and response to COVID-19 as well as FAQs for community members and students at each school.
- Be aware of the University’s interim protocols, such as Interim Travel Restrictions for the Pepperdine community and Interim Restrictions for Campus Visitors, developed to protect the health and well-being of the campus community.
- Evaluate and discuss dependent care needs with supervisors according to the University’s Interim Telecommuting Exceptions protocol.
- Review the CDC’s recommendations for practicing healthy habits to prevent the spread of illness.
The latest information can be found on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page. Additional information and regular updates about COVID-19 can be found on the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health websites.
Pepperdine continues to gather new information about the impact of COVID-19 as the University community prepares for the operational adjustments announced by President Gash yesterday.
As the University and all five schools conduct town hall sessions to address questions from the community, Pepperdine’s COVID-19 website will continue to be updated to include information on the town hall sessions, policy updates, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) for each of Pepperdine’s five schools. The FAQs include information related to academic programming and operational adjustments. Future town hall sessions may be held for students, faculty, and staff as needed. Students who need additional support during this transition are encouraged to reach out to the Student Care Team.
Additionally, community members are advised of the following developments:
Reports of COVID-19: The Student Health Center (SHC) is working closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to monitor any community members with health concerns and to give the appropriate recommendations. Any person who is notified that they may have been exposed to an individual who may have or has COVID-19, or any person who is concerned that they are exhibiting symptoms, should notify the SHC at 310.506.4316, option 3. Those who believe that they might be exhibiting symptoms should call the SHC before visiting.
Dependent care: As local school districts adjust their policies and class schedules, employees with children may need to make accommodations to work remotely or arrange childcare. Employees in this situation should contact their supervisors to make arrangements for telecommuting under the University’s Interim Telecommuting Exceptions.
Guidelines for vulnerable populations: As per the CDC, individuals in our community who are older than 60, autoimmune compromised, or defined by the CDC to be vulnerable populations should avoid travel and large social gatherings, telecommute when possible, and avoid contact with any person who has or may have had contact with COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, the University is encouraging that all vulnerable individuals, or those with vulnerable family members, consider telecommuting, and temporarily obtain off-campus housing.
Visitors and campus guests: Effective immediately, Pepperdine is implementing Interim Restrictions for Campus Visitors for the University community through March 31due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Access to all University campuses is restricted to invited guests only, and access to nonessential guests will be prohibited. If known in advance, requests for access for invited guests can be sent to the Department of Public Safety using the Pepperdine Guest Registration form. Guests can also identify their host at the gate or entrance. Faculty and staff who work and live on campus are encouraged to exercise good judgment, limit the number of visitors to campus, and conduct nonessential meetings via teleconference. Any student who is granted an exception to remain on campus should be aware the ability to have visitors on campus may be greatly restricted, and no overnight guests will be allowed. Additionally, all campus tours have been cancelled through March 31.
Campus events: All Pepperdine events with expected attendance of more than 100 people have been canceled or postponed through March 31. This includes Waves Athletics events and Center for the Arts programs. If you had purchased tickets to any Center for the Arts performances through March, a refund will be issued in your original payment method.
Travel restrictions and conference attendance: Pepperdine continues to restrict all nonessential international and domestic travel for employees through March 31. All travel for academic and business purposes must be approved by the provost, chief operating officer, and/or senior vice president for strategic initiatives. Effective immediately, Pepperdine students, faculty, and staff are prohibited from attending academic and professional conferences through March 31.
Staying informed: As always, you are encouraged to stay informed with the latest information on the outbreak and to continue to practice healthy habits to prevent the spread of illness. The latest information can be found on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page. Additional information and regular updates about the coronavirus can be found on the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health websites.
I want to begin this message by expressing my gratitude to you for the grace and understanding you’ve shown to the entire Pepperdine community as the University manages its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. You and your safety are our most important priorities at Pepperdine. To that end, over the last two months we’ve had to take some extremely difficult, unprecedented actions that have significantly impacted the academic experience for many of our students. We are confident they were the right decisions, but we also know how disappointed many of you were that your semesters or academic journeys haven’t gone according to plan. We share your disappointment. Thank you for the support and comfort you have provided one another and for the resilience you continue to show in the face of adversity.
We have no information indicating that we have, or have had, on our campus any individual infected with COVID-19. Nevertheless, as Pepperdine looks toward the end of the spring semester, our Infectious Disease Task Force and Emergency Operations Committee, comprised of leaders from across the university, have been carefully evaluating the current situation our community is facing in light of continuing challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19. I can assure you that the decisions we have reached are the result of careful and deliberate thought, and reflect the views of Pepperdine’s senior administration and the officers of the Board of Regents, as advised by our internal task force and committee, as well as our nationally recognized external infectious disease consultants.
Consequently, Pepperdine will be taking the following steps:
Remote classes: The last day of scheduled in-person classes at all five schools and across every campus will be on Friday, March 13. These classes will transition to online beginning the week of March 16 and will continue online for the remainder of the spring semester. Faculty have been preparing for some time for this possible outcome and, having learned from our efforts during the Woolsey Fire, they will provide highly effective instruction via this remote alternative instruction format. Information and additional details about your specific courses and their formats will be provided to you by your professors and/or deans over the next day or two. We are also giving special attention to our graduating students and carefully addressing their needs.
While Seaver Chapel has been canceled this morning, Seaver students and faculty are invited to attend an online informational town hall at 10 AM where further information will be provided. Additional details about the town hall will be sent to Seaver students and faculty in advance of this meeting. Students from our graduate schools will receive an update from their deans later today.
On-campus housing: As we move to an online learning format and minimize the concentration of people on the Malibu campus, we are asking all residential students to move out of their on-campus housing by 3 PM on Sunday, March 15. Exception requests for students who have a need to remain on campus can be made by completing this form. International students should also contact the Office of International Student Services to seek further guidance and support during this time. Pepperdine student athletes should coordinate directly with their coaches or the athletics director.
Campus events: The University is canceling or postponing non-essential Pepperdine events with expected attendance of 100 or more through the end of March. More information about athletic teams and their seasons will be communicated directly to the athletes and coaches. We sincerely hope we will be able to host commencement ceremonies as scheduled, but we will make a final decision on these events at a later date based upon information available at that time.
Faculty and staff: The University remains open, and staff will continue to work as normal during this period of academic transition to remote alternative instruction. Additional details for staff will be forthcoming, but know that your health and safety continue to come first. As we have communicated many times before, please stay home if you are sick and practice healthy habits. The University is also encouraging actions in the workplace that help minimize contact in large group settings. Individuals who may need additional accommodations are encouraged to work with their supervisors. As a reminder, all faculty and staff are encouraged to attend today’s online informational town hall at 3 PM.
Travel restrictions: Pepperdine is restricting all non-essential international and domestic travel for employees through Tuesday, March 31. Determinations on what qualifies as essential should be discussed with your supervisor and must ultimately be approved by either the provost or the chief operating officer. All other restrictions and guidance for business and personal travel remain in effect. Please contact the Office of Emergency Services at 310.506.4996 with questions regarding University travel.
Pepperdine’s leadership team will, of course, continue to follow the COVID-19 outbreak and to seek guidance from our local health agencies and retained expert consultants. Given the rapidly unfolding developments with this outbreak, we cannot know fully what to expect, but we will work with the school deans to resume normal operations as quickly as possible following the conclusion of the spring semester. The University continues to closely evaluate the status of both domestic and international summer programs, and decisions will be made over the next few weeks. In the meantime, we will continue to take the appropriate precautions to safeguard our community and do our part to protect the communities in our region.
We fully appreciate that these steps are inconvenient—even disruptive—and unlike any we’ve ever had to take before. Please know these decisions are made with great care, and with your health and safety as our top priority. Joline and I are praying for each of you and those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak around the globe. We are grateful for your understanding, your partnership, and your confidence in Pepperdine University.