Of all of the measures being taken by local colleges and universities to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Pepperdine University has taken one of the most drastic steps: it has asked students to leave campus entirely.
Students in on-campus housing have been told to clear out by 3 p.m. Sunday. University officials said the decision was made after consulting with its Infectious Disease Task Force and Emergency Operations Committee.
"These are difficult decisions," said Vice President of Student Affairs Connie Horton. "The university studied these matters, consulted ... spent hours trying to consider all the repercussions with [students] at the center of the decision."
But the university is not kicking students out to the curb.
"If they don't have a home to go to right now, if they don't have the resources to get home, either we can help them with the resources or we can make an exception," she said.
IN CASE OF HARDSHIP
Horton said the university will take into account several hardships. Here's who can apply for an exemption:
- Students who have no place else to go.
- Students who can't afford to move out.
- Students who would face disruption to income essential to paying for education or to academic internships.
Horton said the university had received "several hundred" requests for exemptions by midday Thursday and expects to get more. The university will not reimburse students for moving costs.
An infectious disease expert is advising the university on how to accommodate students who remain on campus, Horton said.
"Rather than have one hall that's pretty condensed and another one that's wide open, we'll spread them out so that we're still having the social distancing phenomenon," she said.
Those students will also have to take their meals at staggered times to cut down on large groups in the cafeteria. Buffet-style food service has already been replaced by table service.
There won't be any requirement, Horton said, for students to remain on campus or limit interactions off campus. Pepperdine's classes resume on Monday, but they'll be online, as is the case with most colleges in Southern California. The campus has a list of resources for students, including counseling services and the campus chaplain, on its coronavirus page.
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