Pepperdine University Announces Fall Semester to Take Place In Person

Pepperdine students embrace one another after learning they must soon depart campus due to COVID-19 concerns. (March 2020)

As college administrators assess the possibility of continued remote learning, Pepperdine University plans to hold in-person classes—with increased safety protocols. 

The announcement, made May 15, detailed the Pepperdine Restoration Plan, described as “a comprehensive COVID-19 strategic preparedness plan developed in consideration of the university’s current intention to restore in-person classes … no later than the start of the fall term in August.”

The plan involves a multi-step approach, including securing an “ample” supply of COVID-19 test kits, expanding the staffing and capability of the university Student Health Center (for example, treating the seasonal flu more seriously), establishing a virus contact tracing team, incorporating social distancing and requiring masks in classroom settings, moving dining halls to a grab-and-go style format, and enhancing classroom technology.

Given the possibility of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases later this year, the university said it was “exploring the possibility of beginning its fall semester two weeks early on Aug.17, 2020,” and is “considering delaying by a few weeks the resumption of in-person classes in Malibu.”

No concrete plan is yet in place for student athletics. The university is currently working with the LA County Department of Public Health and the NCAA to move forward.

In contrast, the California State and University of California college systems will, for the most part, stay online, according to announcements made last week.

The Pepperdine restoration plan is available at

Pepperdine was among the first universities to close its campus to in-person classes. Students in the university’s Shanghai study abroad program were sent home in January, with students from its other abroad programs following soon after. On March 11, the announcement was made to move classes online. By March 15, students residing on the Malibu campus were required to move out. All of the university’s events, including concerts and gatherings including the 2020 graduation ceremony, were later cancelled following state and county guidelines.