As shared at this morning’s President’s Briefing, Los Angeles County remains in the least restrictive yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with a current adjusted case rate of 0.7 cases per 100,000 people.
Along with governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement to reopen California’s economy on June 15, some state health officials have noted nearly all sectors and businesses will be able to return to usual operations without capacity limits and without distancing requirements.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) announced during a teleconference last week that it would follow the state’s lead in implementing its objectives and will revise its travel advisory to align with the state’s guidelines. While the LACDPH will apply stricter guidelines for schools, it has not yet been determined whether those guidelines will be recommended for colleges and universities. However, based on the most recent data, and assuming trends do not reverse, the LACDPH believes in-person gatherings during the fall semester will likely not require face coverings, social distancing requirements, classroom capacity limits, or occupancy restrictions in residence halls.
Cal/OSHA, whose safety rules for California workplaces currently require the wearing of masks and social distancing at worksites, will convene on June 3, 2021, to vote on an updated masking and social distancing policy, which, if approved, would go into effect on July 31, 2021.
As noted at today’s President’s Briefing, on May 4, 2021, Los Angeles County moved into the least restrictive yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with an adjusted case rate of fewer than two cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks.
The Student Health Center (SHC) has administered more than 1,400 COVID-19 vaccines to date. Those who wish to receive the vaccine at the Malibu campus can contact the COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or the SHC at 310.506.4316, option 3.
The University’s previous COVID-19 outbreaks are now closed.
Los Angeles County’s shift to the yellow tier allows outdoor events to expand from 33 percent of the venue capacity to 67 percent of the venue capacity. As Pepperdine’s schools plan their commencement ceremonies, they will determine how many tickets each graduating student will be allowed to give to attending guests. Currently graduating Seaver College seniors may invite two guests. If additional tickets become available, individual schools will communicate the appropriate process to request more tickets.
Summer School Update
Seaver College summer school classes will begin in June 2021. Dates for summer programs at Pepperdine’s graduate schools will vary. As the University receives increased permission to conduct on-campus activities, each of Pepperdine’s five schools will continue to evaluate the delivery of its learning modalities. Additional information about summer courses will continue to be shared by each school.
Fall Semester Update
With assurances from Los Angeles County and the State of California, the University plans to resume in-person classes and on-campus housing this fall. Restrictions regarding social distancing and testing are yet to be determined. Additional information about summer courses will continue to be shared by each school.
As mentioned at today’s President’s briefing, on April 5, 2021, Los Angeles County transitioned into the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with a 3.1 adjusted case rate per 100,000 residents. As of March 30, 2021, the county has recorded a 1.4 percent positivity rate.
In Los Angeles County, the orange tier allows a number of sectors to further expand their reopening, including movie theaters, restaurants, churches, museums, zoos, and aquariums, which are allowed to operate from 25 percent to 50 percent of capacity, while gyms are increased from 10 percent to 25 percent of capacity. This week, Los Angeles County also allowed institutes of higher education (IHE) to provide indoor, in-person lectures at up to 50 percent capacity or to 200 students, whichever is fewer. Four million vaccines are expected to be administered statewide this week throughout regions with the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases, which will facilitate the transition to the yellow tier. Qualifying for the yellow tier will require being in the orange tier for three weeks, and demonstrating a case rate that is less than 2.0 and a positivity rate less than two percent for two consecutive weeks. Under this guidance, Los Angeles County may transition to the yellow tier by May 4, 2021, at the earliest.
On April 6, 2021, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that on June 15, 2021, the state will fully open its economy if the vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years of age and older who wish to be inoculated and if hospitalization rates remain stable and low. Under this guidance, everyday activities will be allowed and businesses can open with common-sense risk reduction measures, including encouraging all Californians to get vaccinated and mandating face coverings to prevent illness and promote health. State officials will continue contact tracing and testing, as well as monitoring hospitalization rates, vaccine access, and vaccine efficacy against variants.
Travel Advisory Update
According to travel advisory updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine. California updated its travel advisory to lift the recommendation to stay within 120 miles of home. Los Angeles County has also updated its travel advisory, noting that fully vaccinated asymptomatic travelers will not need to quarantine or get tested upon their return, and travelers who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for seven full days and get a negative test within three to five days after arriving in the county. Individuals who do not get tested must quarantine for 10 full days.
The University continues to lobby state and local government agencies to lift the out-of-state visitor restrictions and allow for in-person commencement ceremonies. Commencement updates for each school will continue to be shared by each school’s dean’s office. Seaver College will provide updates regarding the college’s commencement ceremonies in Dean Feltner’s April 12 community update.
Summer School and International Programs Updates
Summer courses are expected to be in session this year, with each of the five schools selecting to conduct in-person, online, or hybrid classes. Additional information about summer courses will continue to be shared by each school.
Seaver students will receive information regarding international programs in the college’s community update from Dean Feltner on Monday, April 12.
COVID-19 Vaccination Updates
As of April 1, 2021, California residents 50 years of age or older qualify to receive the vaccine. Beginning April 15, 2021, those age 16 or older will qualify to receive the vaccine. Pepperdine’s vaccination clinics at the Malibu campus, operated through the Student Health Center (SHC), have administered 700 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date. In addition to University employees, the SHC administered the vaccine to Malibu residents last week. Individuals who received their first dose at Pepperdine will receive emails asking them to schedule their second dose appointments.
COVID-19 Outbreak and Inspection Updates
The University has had an uptick in cases with 36 new positive cases since March 25, 2021, including several which are connected to one another. As with every positive case tested by or reported to the University, the Student Health Center implemented its comprehensive contact tracing and case management plans, ensuring each positive case is interviewed and directed to isolation, all close contacts are notified and directed to quarantine, and infection control measures are put into place.
Additionally, when clusters of at least three cases are linked (as was the case here), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health characterizes these clusters as an outbreak and works with schools to ensure their protocols are satisfactory and recommend strategies to curb the spread of cases. On April 2, 2021, the L.A. County Public Health conducted a site visit at the Malibu campus and a follow-up call this week. The health department was pleasantly surprised this was the first outbreak of cases Pepperdine has had and complimented the University’s protocols, plans, and action taken—citing Pepperdine as a role model for exposure plans and response in higher education.
The Pepperdine community will notice some of the infection control measures put in place in response to the outbreak, including the following: further reductions to the number of people in Lovernich apartments (one per apartment), a temporary pause on indoor dining, and screening testing for on-campus residential students and student-athletes.
As President Gash shared at this morning’s President’s Briefing, the state has released an accelerated plan to reopen in response to positive trends in statewide COVID-19 vaccination and case rates. Therefore, on Monday, March 15, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced the county has moved into Tier 2 (Red Tier) on the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Red Tier Allowances
Under the Red Tier in Los Angeles County, institutions of higher education are now allowed to resume the following:
- Indoor lectures at 25 percent room capacity or 100 people, whichever is less
- Indoor specialized classrooms used as labs, art studios, or for vocational skill building with physical distancing of six feet between students and instructors
- Indoor dining at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less, in addition to continued outdoor dining
- Limited in-person prospective student experiences
At this time, higher education institutions will not be able to increase residential student populations beyond hardship exceptions. Students can review the hardship guidelines or request an exception by submitting a Spring 2021 On-Campus Housing Hardship Petition.
Spring 2021 Class Updates
Seaver College expects a select group of classes will resume with optional in-person instruction on or after April 6, 2021. Seaver students will receive additional information from Dean Feltner and their instructors. Leadership at each graduate school is examining current academic calendars to assess when it is appropriate to resume on-campus classes.
Expected Summer and Fall Allowances
Assuming case rates remain stable or continue to improve through the summer, the county intends to allow student single occupancy housing for unvaccinated students or double occupancy housing for vaccinated students. Overnight camps may also be permitted in compliance with the Institutes of Higher Education and Overnight Camp protocols. Beginning in the fall, no limitations on student housing occupancy are anticipated.
Seaver College Summer 2021 International Programs
At this time, Seaver College hopes to deliver all summer 2021 international programs and a final decision will be made by April 9 for Summer Session I. However, many international travel restrictions remain in place and further updates will be provided as more details become available.
Commencement and Outdoor Gatherings
Based on the current and anticipated allowances, each school is considering multiple scenarios for commencement ceremonies. Students should anticipate communications from their dean in the coming weeks. As President Gash shared at this morning’s briefing, the University plans to host commencement ceremonies once in-state restrictions are lifted. We strongly advise community members to avoid incurring non-refundable expenses until final decisions regarding commencement are issued.
University leadership is encouraged by the trajectory of the conditions in the state and remains optimistic that Los Angeles County will reach the Tier 3 (Orange Tier) within the next month. As some students are welcomed back to the Malibu campus, the University reminds the entire community these new developments do not yet indicate a full reopening of any Pepperdine campus. The University’s ability to fully resume in-person classes remains informed by the requirements set forth in the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy and by the protocols put in place by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
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 email@example.com.