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Students, faculty and friends at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., pray Tuesday for China and the growing threat of the Coronavirus. They gathered in the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center.
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Photo by Gary Jackson

Amid coronavirus fears, Pepperdine bringing students home from China

At Harding, students and faculty members gather to pray for those affected by the spread of the illness.

As China’s death toll from the coronavirus rises, Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., is suspending its Shanghai study-abroad program and bringing the 36 participating students home this week.

Students received an email Tuesday informing them that the Shanghai program has been suspended, and they must make arrangements to return home by Monday. Most participants were already out of China on a week-long travel break and were scheduled to return to their Shanghai “Jia,” which means home in Mandarin, by early next week.

All travel arrangement costs, including flights back to Pepperdine’s home campus by mid-February, are being covered by the university, according to the email. Pepperdine is associated with Churches of Christ.

“Based on all information available to the University at this time, including the spread of the coronavirus, related travel warnings from national and international organizations, academic programming needs, and our care for the student experience, the University has made the decision to suspend the Shanghai international program for the Spring 2020 semester,” said the email from Beth Laux, Pepperdine’s director of international programs.

Students were advised to:

  • Make plans to return home to their families.
  • Follow the risk assessment and health recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Return to the Malibu campus two weeks later on Feb. 16, to resume classes with their fellow Shanghai students. Arrangements are also being made for students’ personal items still in Shanghai to be shipped back to their homes. 

An email was also sent to the Pepperdine community later Wednesday announcing the plans for Shanghai students’ return and the program’s suspension.

“Since the last communication to the University community yesterday evening, the number of confirmed cases has grown to 4,690 with 107 deaths in 16 countries and five confirmed cases in the US and two in Southern California,” the email said.

The note said all other upcoming university-related travel to China was being reviewed on a “case-by-case basis.”

Most Pepperdine students spend their second full academic year abroad at one of seven locations, six of which are international. Shanghai is the largest city in the People’s Republic of China, located in Eastern China on the Yangtze River. Shanghai is about 500 miles east of Wuhan, the city where the Coronavirus originated. 

Shanghai, China

Elsewhere, about 20 students, faculty and friends at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., gathered Tuesday to pray for China and the growing threat of the viral respiratory illness. Harding also is associated with Churches of Christ.

“Please pray that God will use this difficult time in China to bring this great country closer to God.”

“The city of Wuhan, China, needs our prayers,” Harding President Bruce McLarty said in a chapel announcement Monday. “The city is in complete lockdown. Sixty percent of the people are infected by the Coronavirus, and we have students here at Harding who are from that region. So please keep them and their families and all who are affected in your prayers.”

Gary Jackson, an instructor of missions at Harding and a former missionary who has served in China, prayed at the gathering.

“Please pray that God will use this difficult time in China to bring this great country closer to God,” Jackson said in a Facebook post.

Students, faculty and friends at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., pray Tuesday for China and the growing threat of the Coronavirus. They gathered in the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center.

Students, faculty and friends at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., pray Tuesday for China and the growing threat of the Coronavirus. They gathered in the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center.

Filed under: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Harding Harding University health International National Partners Pepperdine Pepperdine University Top Stories

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