coronavirus

COVID-19 Community Update

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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.

COVID-19 Booster 

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:

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.

Looking Ahead

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 covid19info@pepperdine.edu.

COVID-19 Community Update – Spring Semester

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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.  

Testing Protocols

  • 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.

January 7: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F4AA4AC2BA5F5C43-rite3

January 13:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F4AA4AC2BA5F5C43-rite4

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.

Holiday and Spring 2022 COVID-19 Testing

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Thank you for cooperating with the COVID-19 testing requirements this fall. With your help, Pepperdine has achieved good compliance and kept our community together. Below is a summary of the testing plan over the holidays and into spring 2022.

Holiday Testing

Weekly screening testing will continue through the Christmas break for students registered with Housing and Residence Life to stay in on-campus student housing during Christmas break. With the smaller number of people on campus, only the Firestone Fieldhouse testing site location will remain open, and hours will be limited. The site will be open on Monday, December 20 and Monday, December 27 from 10 AM to 2:30 PM. Residential students should plan accordingly to test during these times. If there are any questions or schedule conflicts with these testing hours, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line before December 18 or the Department of Public Safety during the holiday break.

Spring 2022 COVID-19 Testing Requirements

Students will be required to complete (1) an entry test prior to arrival on campus and (2) weekly screening testing. Please remember, entry tests do not count for your first week of screening testing. These are two separate requirements, and each is described below.

Entry Testing

As a precautionary measure and in compliance with current Los Angeles County guidance,   Pepperdine will require all students, regardless of vaccination status, to obtain and report a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before arriving either on campus or for their first in-person interaction with the Pepperdine community at an official University event in 2022. 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 your test result was negative or positive.  

Access to testing may be challenging for some students. Therefore, to ensure all students have the ability to test, the University is making take-home tests available for pickup next week at the screening test sites. Students may use these take-home tests to satisfy the entry testing requirement.

Weekly Screening Testing

Pepperdine will begin the spring 2022 term continuing 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 continues to evaluate conditions to determine if and when changes to testing may occur.

Weekly screening testing will be available beginning on January 3, 2022. While students may test any day, Monday through Saturday, the University encourages early testing on the first week back to campus. For your first week, please complete your weekly screening test within 72 hours of your arrival back on campus. 

If you have any questions about this information, please contact the University’s COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at covid19info@pepperdine.edu. Thank you for your continued support as the University works together to keep the community safe.

Required COVID-19 Testing for Pepperdine Community

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Last week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) announced guidance for institutes of higher education, which expects the implementation of several testing practices to maintain the health and safety of university campuses. Pepperdine continues to prioritize the well-being of the University community, and, consistent with this guidance, will require COVID-19 testing beginning this fall for all students, faculty, and staff. As you prepare for the new academic year, please review the following information carefully for the types of required COVID-19 testing that will impact you.

Entry Screening Testing

As a precautionary measure and screening tool for the start of the semester in compliance with LACDPH guidance, Pepperdine requires students at all five schools accessing a Pepperdine campus or facility, regardless of vaccination status, to obtain a diagnostic test for COVID-19 no earlier than 72 hours before arrival at one of Pepperdine’s campuses or facilities. This is a one-time test required prior to arrival on campus.

REQUIRED FOR:All students accessing a Pepperdine campus or facility, regardless of vaccination status, including students arriving from international locations
COVID-19 TEST TYPE:Either a rapid/antigen test or a PCR test
TESTING TIMELINE:No earlier than 72 hours before arrival on campus; results received and submitted to the Student Health Center 

Before coming to campus, all students referenced above must do the following:

  1. Take a COVID-19 test (either a rapid/antigen test or a PCR test) no earlier than 72 hours before arriving on campus. If you are unsure of how to get a COVID-19 test, visit your state, tribal, local, or territorial health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing or contact your healthcare provider.
  2. Upload the test results (positive or negative) to the Student Health Center patient portal before arriving on campus:
  • Login to the Student Health Center Patient Portal using Pepperdine credentials (CAS).
  • Select “Upload” in the gray navigation bar/menu at the top of the webpage.
  • Select “COVID-19 Test” and upload the test results. 

Routine Screening Testing

Screening testing refers to the periodic testing of individuals, regardless of whether they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. Because people with COVID-19 can show no symptoms at all (asymptomatic), screening testing helps proactively identify COVID-19 cases and reduce further transmission in the community. Screening testing will be provided at no cost to the community.

REQUIRED FOR:All students, faculty, and staff accessing a Pepperdine campus or facility, regardless of vaccination status
COVID-19 TEST TYPE:PCR test – saliva or mid-nasal swab
TESTING TIMELINE:Weekly (subject to change based on conditions)

Screening testing at the University is simple and quick, and community members do not need to quarantine while they wait for test results. Community members will do the following:

  • Use a web-based software platform to schedule testing 
  • Once a week, go to an on-campus testing site
  • Use a nasal swab or saliva tube to submit a sample 
  • See their test results in the web-based software within one business day

An email invitation will be sent to all students, faculty, and staff required to participate in routine screening testing, including details on how to register for the web-based testing software, how to schedule a weekly test, and the on-campus locations and times for the available testing sites.

Prioritizing Health and Safety

For each type of COVID-19 test, the University has also outlined important steps community members should take when receiving either a positive or negative result. Community members should familiarize themselves with these steps, which can be found on the Pepperdine Restoration Plan Testing webpage.

The University has given deliberate attention and invested considerable resources to ensure its testing program is effective, simple, and adaptable to changing conditions. The frequency of and types of testing required will be determined by an ongoing analysis considering many factors, including following public health orders and guidance, the number of people on campus, the presence of COVID-19 cases on a campus, the level of COVID-19 transmission in the local community, and the percentage of Pepperdine community members who are vaccinated. The University continues to review its testing protocols with its medical professionals and infectious disease specialists and will make adjustments as necessary.

The University is confident community members will comply with these important health and safety provisions. In the unlikely event of non-compliance, these matters will be directed to the Office of Community Standards for students, the Office of the Provost for faculty, and Human Resources for staff. Consequences will be aligned with other failures to comply with University policy.

If you have any questions about testing, please contact the University’s COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at covid19info@pepperdine.edu. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as the University works to keep the community safe.