Almost 10 months after campus closed March 15, 2020, students will need to wait a little longer until they can return to class on campus.
Seaver Dean Michael Feltner announced Pepperdine’s plan for spring 2021 instruction in a Jan. 8, email to students. Classes for the upcoming semester will begin completely online with the University providing updates on delivery modality every four weeks beginning Feb. 8.
“[…] to protect the health and safety of the community and to comply with all state and local regulatory guidelines, Seaver College will begin the spring 2021 semester using online instruction,” Feltner wrote. “As discussed below, however, we do plan to welcome back to campus students who wish to return later in the semester if we are later permitted to do so.”
Due to California and Los Angeles County health regulations, Pepperdine is unable to house students on campus, Feltner wrote. LA County COVID-19 case numbers are categorized as widespread, also known as the purple tier, of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which means the county will be under stay-at-home orders through January. ICU capacity in Southern California dropped below 0% over the winter break, and public health officials expect case numbers to continue to rise in the coming weeks, Feltner wrote.
“Given these circumstances, we have a high degree of confidence that the University will not be permitted to restore campus operations or to resume in-person instruction in Malibu in time for the start of the spring semester on February 8,” Feltner wrote.
The Tentative Return Plan
Seaver College will deliver all courses online beginning Feb. 8 and students who wish to remain online for the entirety of the semester are able to do so, Feltner wrote.
For students who would like to return to Malibu, the University will provide updates every four weeks — Feb. 8, March 1, March 22 and April 12 — with information regarding in-person options. If Pepperdine can provide in-person resources, that notice will be provided on one of the aforementioned dates and students can return three weeks following, with a four-day break prior to the first day of in-person classes.
For example, if between Feb. 8 and March 1, LA County regulations allow for students to live on campus, Pepperdine would announce that on March 1. On March 17, students would have a four-day break without class to allows students to return to campus, and hybrid classes would begin March 22.
The three-week period between announcement and student return date is designed to allow students “sufficient notice and opportunity for all necessary arrangements,” Feltner wrote, as well as provide “peace of mind” regarding future spring decisions.
If classes are to resume on the Malibu campus later in the semester, Housing and Residence Life will provide students with more information about on-campus living availability.
Administration will continue to share major announcements with students and parents via email and students will receive texts alerting them of important email updates, Feltner wrote. Students should also download the Navigate mobile app to receive regular messages on their phone.
Feltner and Connie Horton, vice president for Student Affairs, also plan to host two additional Seaver Student Town Halls in the spring for students and parents.
In-person classes will only resume if the University has the ability to house students on campus, Feltner wrote. Other on-campus resources and activities — such as faculty-mentored research, art studio and music practice room use, library access and campus outdoor space — may also open separately from student residential living.
“Students and families may rest assured that Pepperdine continues to vigorously advocate for the return of students to the Malibu campus and that we have exhaustive plans in place to transition quickly while simultaneously safeguarding the health and safety of all community members,” Feltner wrote.
Feltner’s email did not detail safety measures or any new COVID-19 protocols regarding spring semester.
The Seaver academic calendar remains unchanged, with the addition of a four-day Easter weekend, as announced Dec. 15 at the Seaver Town Hall.
All international students, both those residing inside and outside of the U.S., should consult with the Office of International Student Services or their designated school official regarding their ability to move on to campus later in the semester, Feltner wrote.
Administration has yet to finalize summer 2021 session plans, both those provided on Malibu campus and via International Programs. Community members can expect an update on these programs in early to mid-March, Feltner wrote.
“Regardless of whether you are currently enrolled or extending your holiday break until February, I continue to pray for your health, safety, and well-being. I eagerly look forward to the day when we are reunited on campus,” Feltner wrote.
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