COVID-19 Community Update – November 30, 2020

Posted on Updated on

Pepperdine Community Case Update

In accordance with NCAA, conference, and state testing protocols, all basketball players and coaches receive regular surveillance testing. Yesterday, two members of the women’s basketball team and staff tested positive for COVID-19 using an antigen test, which prompted the cancellation of yesterday’s game against UCLA. As an additional precaution, both were isolated. However, because neither individual had tested positive during the University’s regular testing protocol, which uses more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, the University suspected the antigen tests may have yielded false positives. Both individuals were tested again on Sunday using PCR tests and those results arrived this morning showing both individuals were negative for COVID-19.

As Pepperdine continues with remote operations for faculty, staff, and students, the University will continue to provide potential exposure notifications to impacted community members and update the Pepperdine COVID-19 dashboard as cases are reported within the community. 

Los Angeles County Safer At Home Order

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Los Angeles County, effective today, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a new Temporary Targeted Safer At Home Order, which remains in effect for the next three weeks. The order contains several new restrictions applicable to members of the Pepperdine community residing on campus and in the county, including the following: 

  • Prohibiting all public and private gatherings and events with people from more than one household except for outdoor faith-based services and outdoor protests
  • Closing shared public playgrounds, pools serving more than one household, and non-residential hot tubs
  • Closing restaurants for on-site dining, either indoor or outdoor 
  • Encouraging all persons who can work remotely to continue to do so as much as possible during the pandemic

California COVID-19 Updates

In a briefing today, California governor Gavin Newsom announced the state is closely monitoring the recent acceleration of COVID-19 cases and their corresponding impact on hospitalizations and intensive care unit occupancy. To ensure the state does not run out of hospital capacity, the governor indicated counties currently categorized as Tier 1 (Purple) in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, including Los Angeles and Orange counties, may be put under stay-at-home orders if hospital capacity continues to shrink.   

As always, the University encourages all students, faculty, and staff to stay informed and follow the guidance and direction of local authorities. The latest information is available on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page. If you have questions, please contact Pepperdine’s COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at

Limited Stay at Home Order Issued Beginning November 21

Posted on

Following an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases across California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced yesterday a Limited Stay at Home Order will go into effect tomorrow, November 21. The order will be effective in counties under Tier One (Purple) of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which currently includes Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and will prohibit all nonessential activities outside a person’s residence from 10 PM to 5 AM each day through at least December 21. Los Angeles County public health officials indicated they will update the county’s Health Officer Order to address this order from the state.

While this order does not directly impact current campus operations, the University encourages faculty, staff, and students to continue limiting their interactions with others and follow all safety guidelines issued by local and national health agencies. For any questions pertaining to this order’s impact on University operations, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line at or 310.506.8111. 

COVID-19 Community Update – November 19

Posted on Updated on

The University continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. As cities and states throughout the nation—including Los Angeles and its surrounding counties—are reporting new increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations, community members should remain vigilant and continue to take preventative action. 

New Los Angeles County Restrictions

Yesterday, Los Angeles County announced new restrictions effective Friday, November 20, including the following:

  • All non-essential retail establishments must close from 10 PM to 6 AM. For non-essential businesses permitted to operate indoors—including retail stores, offices, personal care services—occupancy will be limited to 25 percent maximum capacity.  
  • Restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars, and all other non-essential retail establishments must close from 10 PM to 6 AM. The number of patrons at outdoor restaurants, breweries, and wineries will be limited to 50 percent max outdoor capacity.
  • Services at personal care establishments may be provided by appointment only. Services that require either the customer or the staff to remove their face covering are not permitted.
  • Outdoor gatherings remain the only gatherings permitted, and they must only include 15 people maximum who are members of no more than three households.

These new restrictions do not directly impact Pepperdine’s current operations. However, health officials also noted additional restrictions may be necessary if cases continue to rise and established thresholds for when they would institute another potential “Safer at Home” order similar to those previously implemented in March and April. 

Holiday Travel and Gatherings

The University encourages students, faculty, and staff to review advisories and guidance issued by local and national health agencies. If you plan to travel or visit with loved ones, the CDC has issued travel guidelines and safety recommendations for gathering this holiday season, including the following:

  • Obtain an influenza vaccination if you have not already done so.
  • Review the regulations governing travel to your destination. 
  • Delay travel if you feel sick, have been exposed to COVID-19, or are in quarantine or isolation.  

Similarly, California, Oregon, and Washington issued travel advisories urging people to consider limiting out-of-state travel and self-quarantining for 14 days upon re-entry if traveling out-of-state.

Staying Safe

As a reminder, community members should follow guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and CDC when interacting with individuals outside of their primary household to ensure their safety and the safety of our community.

  • Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth when in public. Recent studies have shown masks offer protection to you by reducing the amount of infectious droplets inhaled by the wearer, as well as those around you by limiting the spread of infectious droplets from unaware, asymptomatic mask wearers.
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from others whenever possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Limit the time you spend with individuals who live outside your household, especially indoors, and even if wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, or outdoors.

Emotional Support Resources

As the pandemic concludes its ninth month in the United States, the University recognizes some community members may be experiencing ongoing feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, or isolation. As a reminder, the Counseling Center, Employee Assistance Program, and Pastoral Care are available to the University community. Details on contacting each of these are available on the University’s COVID-19 website.

As always, the University encourages all students, faculty, and staff to stay informed and follow the guidance and direction of local authorities. The latest information is available on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page. If you have questions, please contact Pepperdine’s COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at

A Message from President Gash: Online Instruction for Fall Semester

Posted on Updated on

Since shifting to remote instruction in mid-March, Pepperdine leadership has been carefully monitoring the activity of COVID-19 and closely evaluating the evolving governmental guidance with a goal to reopen our campuses for in-person instruction as soon as it was safe for our Pepperdine community. Although it is still forthcoming, Governor Newsom’s long-awaited guidance for colleges and universities is expected to closely mirror the recently issued restrictions imposed last week for California’s public and private K-12 schools. This guidance, when applied to California’s four-stage reopening plan, effectively prohibits in-person instruction beginning in the fall for much of California, including in Los Angeles County.

This leaves uncertainty for colleges and universities, but little confidence that campuses will be allowed to reopen for the start of the fall term with in-person instruction in a way that reflects Pepperdine’s standards of excellence.

Online Instruction for the Fall Semester

Given these circumstances, we have decided we can best protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff by conducting our fall semester online. As you know, this was not the decision we had hoped or planned to make. Our faculty and staff and regents have worked tirelessly throughout the summer to prepare us for safe in-person instruction and on-campus housing. Although we are extremely disappointed that the renewed safety concerns are taking us in a different direction, we all believe this is the right decision for the health and safety of our Pepperdine family.

Therefore, even while we have been vigorously preparing for students to return to our campuses safely, we have also been preparing aggressively to provide a robust and excellent online educational experience just in case circumstances dictated that campuses could not reopen this fall. To that end, our faculty have also spent the summer preparing to provide world-class academic instruction online. Consequently, online classes will begin on the previously published schedules for each school.

On-Campus Housing

Our ability to house students on campus is also directly impacted by state and county restrictions. We are not presently permitted to reopen our Malibu campus for normal residential life. However, we expect to receive permission soon to house students who can demonstrate a compelling hardship which necessitates residing in on-campus housing this fall. The deans of each school will be outlining, in subsequent communications, the application process for seeking a housing hardship exemption.

In the event the government’s guidance changes during the semester, we may revisit our options for potentially broadening our on-campus housing availability.

Pepperdine Restoration Plan 

As we begin to return students with hardships to on-campus living, and if and when a broader return to campus can occur, our extensive summer planning efforts have positioned us to be fully prepared. Our Pepperdine Restoration Plan is complete and ready for implementation. We have instituted robust protocols to make our campuses safe environments. These protocols required significant investments in testing equipment, tracing resources, sanitation supplies and schedules, technology enhancements in our classrooms, plexiglass protection, and extensive changes and additions to our campuses to accommodate social distancing.

Looking Ahead

We have not tried in this communication to answer all of your specific questions because many of the detailed implications of this decision are school-specific. You can expect, therefore, to receive a detailed communication within the next 24 to 48 hours from the dean of your school that will specifically address the issues of housing, registration, schedules, and other important information. Pepperdine faculty and staff should expect a detailed communication from Human Resources this week.

Thank you for working together with us to make this fall a memorable and meaningful semester despite our challenging times. Pepperdine is an uncommonly strong community and we are equal to the task of taking on these challenges together and advancing our high calling as leaders in higher education.