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Spring 2021 Semester | February Update

February 8, 2021

As today marks the beginning of Seaver College's spring 2021 classes, I hope that everyone has enjoyed a restorative and peaceful winter break. For those who enrolled in the January session, I hope you had a great experience with your professor and classmates. On this day, I especially want to extend a warm Pepperdine welcome to all newly enrolled Waves beginning their first semester at Seaver College.

In the remainder of this message, I will provide updates regarding current COVID-19 conditions, the college's continued planning updates, our efforts to resume on-campus activities and return students to campus, and other additional details as we begin the spring semester.

COVID-19 Conditions

Since my last communication on January 8, COVID-19 conditions have changed considerably. As you may already know, COVID-19 infection rates are decreasing nationally and in Los Angeles County. Currently, for every 100,000 residents of L.A. County there are 38.7 new cases, which is a significant decline compared to January case rates. The projected ICU capacity rose above 15 percent in Southern California and resulted in Governor Newsom lifting California's regional Stay-At-Home order on January 25. Test positivity rates and COVID-related hospitalizations also continue to decline.

Despite all of the aforementioned positive changes in COVID-19 metrics, L.A. County remains in the "widespread," or purple, tier of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy. In this tier, we are precluded from restoring campus operations and resuming in-person instruction on the Malibu campus. To comply with all state and local regulatory guidelines, Seaver College and Pepperdine University will continue remote or online instruction for the start of the spring semester and at least until our next update on March 1, 2021.

Hope

The positive local trends in COVID-19 metrics have increased our hope that students will be able to return to campus later in the semester. Based on discussions with L.A. County Public Health officials, we remain optimistic that once case rates drop below 25 per 100,000 residents Pepperdine will be permitted to allow a limited number of students on campus to use Payson Library and outdoor spaces for socially distanced gatherings and study sessions. Additionally, we remain in conversation with public health officials regarding the resumption of undergraduate research labs, fine arts studios, and video production spaces. As soon as there is a change in the status of permissible on-campus activities, we will provide updates.

Vaccinations

As you know, COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun and distribution rates are increasing steadily. Presently, only healthcare workers and those above 65 years of age are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. In the next phase when the higher education sector is authorized to begin receiving vaccines, Pepperdine has confirmed that all University faculty and staff will be eligible to receive vaccinations. At this time, state and local guidelines indicate that students are not likely to receive vaccines until later in the distribution process. Additionally, the Student Health Center has been authorized as a vaccine distribution site, but they have not received any COVID-19 vaccines nor an indication of when or how many vaccine doses they may receive. Pepperdine has plans in place to distribute vaccines to our community when they become available.

As communicated in the February President's Briefing, Pepperdine has not finalized a COVID-19 vaccination policy for faculty, staff, or students. As we continue to progress in developing this policy, we ask that you be watchful for opportunities to gather community feedback. If these events come to fruition, we hope that you will participate and share your feedback. Please be watchful for future messages on this topic.

Support Resources and Community Programming

As we begin the spring semester, Seaver College faculty and staff will continue to provide programming and support, both academic and non-academic, to enhance your educational experience and help you succeed in the spring semester. I highly encourage students to avail themselves to all University resources throughout the semester. These include faculty office hours, Payson Library, the Student Success Center, the Career Center, OneStop, Academic Advising, and all areas of student life, including, but not limited to, the Student Care Team, Chaplain's Office, Student Health Center, Counseling Center, Intercultural Affairs, and Pepperdine Volunteer Center. All of these offices, functions, and support services are open and eager to support students. I especially encourage you to take advantage of the coaching and support available through the RISE program and our spiritual life areas.

Add/Drop Period

The add/drop period remains open through the end of this week, Friday, February 12, 2021. During this period, students are able to make adjustments to their schedules without fee or financial penalty.

International Students

The eligibility of an F-1 visa holder to obtain or maintain status is determined by 1) the school's reported modality of instruction, 2) the student's SEVIS status, and 3) the student's physical location while participating in classes. We encourage you to review the International Student tab under the FAQs on the Seaver College COVID-19 Updates site for more information about spring eligibility, enrollment, and travel information.

Students with SEVIS records in "initial" or "initial transfer" status who are outside of the US are eligible to enter the US to begin studies by no later than March 1, as SEVIS registration will close and their I-20s will expire.

International Programs

Seaver College continues to monitor international travel, health, and safety conditions. At this time, the Office of International Programs continues to move forward in planning to deliver all summer 2021 and academic year 2021–2022 international programs. Decisions to operate each international program will be dependent on evolving local and worldwide conditions, travel restrictions, flight availability, health care infrastructure, and guidance from national and international organizations. To support your planning and answer any questions, International Programs will provide updates on any changes as new information becomes available. The latest international program updates are available on the COVID-19 FAQ website. Students and families may expect updates on summer 2021 international programs in mid-March.

May 2021 Commencement Ceremony

Seaver College and Pepperdine leadership continue to prepare for a wide range of scenarios for the Class of 2021 commencement ceremony on May 22, 2021. Our primary and desired scenario remains providing all graduates an in-person commencement ceremony with guests in Alumni Park this spring. To aid our planning, we are preparing a brief survey for all potential Class of 2021 graduates. The survey will be distributed via email by mid-February. Student input is critical to our planning efforts, so I ask that you please watch for and complete this survey once you receive it. All commencement updates will be posted to the Class of 2021 graduation website for your convenience and reference.

2021–2022 Academic Calendar

To aid your planning for next year, the finalized 2021–2022 Academic Calendar is now available. At this time, I do not anticipate any changes to this calendar. However, should changes prove necessary, they will be provided in future updates.

Communication

As detailed in my January 8 communication, Seaver College's next update for the spring 2021 semester will be distributed on March 1, 2021. Until then the college will continue to use all communication channels including email, the Navigate app, mobile text messaging, and Student Government Association platforms. Please refer to the January 8 update for the entire schedule of updates for the spring semester and additional details on our communication initiatives.

Closing

I pray daily that COVID-19 case rates will continue to decrease—not only in Los Angeles County, but across the globe—that vaccine distribution and availability will continue to increase, and that everyone in our Pepperdine community, nation, and world will remain healthy. I hope you will all join me in these prayers. Until my next message or when we greet each other on campus, I wish you the very best. I hope that you have a wonderful spring semester at Seaver College.