Amid coronavirus fears, Pepperdine bringing students home from China
As China’s death toll from the coronavirus rises, Pepperdine University…
Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., is moving all classes for the remainder of the spring semester online.
Students are also being told they need to move out of their campus housing by Sunday, March 15.
This comes on the same day the World Health Organization officially announced it is officially characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic. The latest numbers show the virus is now in 114 countries, with more than 118,000 cases reported and 4,292 deaths associated with the virus.
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Wednesday. FULL STATEMENT
The university, which is associated with Churches of Christ, said while these steps are “unprecedented,” they are being made to ensure students’ safety.
“You and your safety are our most important priorities at Pepperdine,” President Jim Gash said in a statement to students. “Over the last two months we’ve had to take some extremely difficult, unprecedented actions that have significantly impacted the academic experience for many of our students. We are confident they were the right decisions, but we also know how disappointed many of you were that your semesters or academic journeys haven’t gone according to plan.”
In recent weeks, Pepperdine has brought several students home from study-abroad programs in China and Italy.
Canceling on-campus classes is being done out of an abundance of caution, and not in response to any known cases on campus, the university stressed.
“We have no information indicating that we have, or have had, on our campus any individual infected with COVID-19,” Gash said.
The university plans to stay open, saying faculty and staff will still be working on campus. University officials are encouraging student who don’t have somewhere else to go to fill out an exception request, which may allow them to stay on campus.
However, Pepperdine is also canceling or postponing any “non-essential” events from now through March 30, that are scheduled and expecting an attendance of 100 or more.
The university said no decision has been made regarding Harbor, Pepperdine’s annual Bible lectureship, which is scheduled for May 5-8.
The university said it is monitoring things closely and will continue to do what is in the best interest of its students’ safety. It will keep monitoring the situation and make plans for summer or fall programs as necessary.
“We fully appreciate that these steps are inconvenient — even disruptive — and unlike any we’ve ever had to take before,” Gash said. “Please know these decisions are made with great care, and with your health and safety as our top priority.”
The Christian Chronicle has checked with other universities associated with Churches of Christ. At this time, most say they are monitoring the situation closely but are continuing to hold classes on campus.
However, just hours after the Pepperdine announcement, Oklahoma Christian University sent an email to students encouraging them to “take all class materials” with them on Spring Break. University officials said the move is precautionary “should it become necessary to close campus and suspend face-to-face classes post Spring Break.”
This is a developing story. We will continue to bring you updates as new details emerge.
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