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 email@example.com or 310.506.8111.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
Pepperdine’s highest priority is to preserve and protect the health, safety, and well-being of every current and future member of Pepperdine University while keeping our commitment to delivering an exceptional educational experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, we continue to closely monitor all guidance issued by local, state, and federal agencies. The purpose of this communication is to inform our Pepperdine community about a significant shift in California’s guidance for educational institutions released today by California governor Gavin Newsom that may impact the start of our fall semester.
Governor Newsom Update
At a news conference this afternoon, Governor Newsom provided guidance for K-12 schools that casts serious doubt on the ability of the vast majority of these schools to begin in person instruction in August. And while this guidance was not specifically directed at colleges and universities, it provides clear evidence the state is taking an increasingly aggressive approach to addressing the spread of COVID-19. During this news conference, Governor Newsom indicated that further guidance for colleges and universities, which was expected to be delivered no later than today, will be issued next week for all California colleges and universities.
Pepperdine’s decision-making framework alluded to above remains consistent, and will remain consistent, as we adapt to the fluctuating environment caused by the virus’ unpredictable course. We understand that faculty, staff, students, and their families will be impacted by any revised decisions the University may be compelled to make about in-person instruction and on-campus housing for the fall term. Pepperdine is committed to keeping the community informed as new developments occur.
In the meantime, students and their families are advised to defer the purchase of travel and lodging and making off-campus housing arrangements until Pepperdine, after receiving and evaluating Governor Newsom’s directives, provides further guidance to our community. For those seeking on-campus housing this fall, the University will suspend its current housing deadline until further notice. Additionally, the information regarding move-in date and housing assignments for new students that was expected to be sent out today will be delayed.
Pepperdine Community Case Update
The University was notified this week of five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Pepperdine community, including three staff members, a Graziadio student, and a GSEP student. All were reported to the Student Health Center and investigated through the University’s contact tracing protocols. Close contacts were notified.
One of the staff members is a Mail Services employee who last reported to the Malibu campus on July 10. Although this staff member’s risk of spreading the virus while in the mailroom was low, and although no close contacts were identified for this case, the University is taking extra precautions and has closed the mailroom for today through Monday to allow for a deep cleaning and disinfection of the space. During this time, Mail Services will not be operating. If you have any questions related to an expected delivery or need for service, please contact Stan Jones, manager of mail and automation services, at 310.506.4293.
Although the CDC states it is unlikely the virus will spread from mail or packaging, the University has implemented additional precautionary measures. Additional details are available on the Mail Services Community page.
The University will continue to keep the community informed on COVID-19 developments as new information becomes available. The latest updates can be found on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page. For additional questions, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line at email@example.com or 310.506.8111.