LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two more local universities -- Pepperdine and Cal State Long Beach -- joined UCLA and USC today in announcing measures to combat the coronavirus, moving toward holding all online classes.
UCLA suspended all in-person classes "wherever possible" beginning Wednesday and continuing through April 10 in response to concerns about coronavirus, while USC began three days of online classes to test its "technical capabilities" to hold remote courses on a more extended basis.
In an email sent to USC students Tuesday night, the university indicated that classes will also be conducted online the week of March 22, after spring break.
On Wednesday morning, Pepperdine President Jim Gash announced measures being taken by the university to combat the virus, including a move to online classes beginning Monday and continuing for the rest of the spring semester.
"Faculty have been preparing for some time for this possible outcome and, having learned from our efforts during the Woolsey Fire, they will provide highly effective instruction via this remote alternative instruction format," Gash said.
Pepperdine students were also told to vacate on-campus housing by 3 p.m. Sunday, but students can apply for exemptions. The university is also canceling or postponing non-essential Pepperdine events with expected attendance of 100 or more through the end of March, while also restricting non-essential travel for employees through the end of the month.
Cal State Long Beach, meanwhile, will suspending in-person, on-campus classes beginning Thursday and continuing through Tuesday. Regular classes are expected to resume April 20, with "alternative instruction" beginning March 18. Some courses will continue in-person sessions if alternative instruction is not appropriate, such as some laboratory, performing-arts and physical-education courses.
"While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 related to the campus, it was decided to enact this as a preventative measure after receiving trusted medical advice," according to the university. "The campus is not closing. Campus offices and buildings will remain open and many operations will continue normally, including student housing and related dining facilities. Beach Athletics teams will continue to compete."
Officials at USC and UCLA also stressed there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, at either campus.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wrote in a message to the campus community that "it is important for communities to look out for one another and to do what is best for our global and UCLA communities."
Block said university officials have been coordinating with public health officials to develop "plans for every possible scenario." As a result, beginning Wednesday, the university "will suspend in-person classes wherever possible and transition to online platforms through April 10, which is the end of the second week of Spring Quarter," Block said.
Winter Quarter final exams will be administered remotely, with individual instructors communicating plans to students, Block said.
Block said the campus will remain open, but "we're transitioning over the next few days to cancel nonessential gatherings of more than 100 people."
"I know this raises a lot of questions about courses, like performance courses, that are difficult to teach remotely and, for our staff who support campus operations, what their roles will look like," Block wrote. "We understand there will be questions around many issues. Please be assured that answers and additional information will be forthcoming over the next few days. ... I know these changes may cause some stress and uncertainty. Please bear with us while we manage this complicated transition."
Block and UCLA Athletics also announced that attendance at all university athletic home games will be restricted to "essential personnel only," including athletes, coaches, trainers, medical personnel, game officials, administrative staff and credentialed media. No spectators will be admitted.
Spectators who have pre-purchased tickets were urged to contact the Central Ticket Office.
"UCLA Athletics will continue to follow University of California and UCLA travel guidelines when it comes to team and personnel travel," according to UCLA Athletics. "At this point in time, teams will continue to practice and compete, however, any student-athlete who does not feel comfortable traveling or participating in team activities will be excused from doing so."
Block conceded that the coronavirus, or COVID-19, "is clearly going to disrupt and change our schedules, habits and lives for the foreseeable future."
"This will not be a perfect transition, however, it will not change who we are and what we do. It will also never compromise UCLA's impact in our community and the broader world. How we react and work together in times like these help define who we are, and I have no doubt that the Bruin community will once again rise to the occasion as we transition to our second century."
Attendance at all USC home athletic events Wednesday through March 29 will be limited to participating athletes, coaches, officials and other personnel as designated by USC Athletics, such as team personnel, medical teams, game management staff, athletes' families, media and USC recruits.
Fans who have purchased tickets to any affected competition can contact the USC Ticket Office at 213-740-GOSC (4672) with questions.
Three opponents who were scheduled to play at USC this week have canceled their trips to Los Angeles -- North Carolina State women's tennis (Friday), Harvard men's volleyball (Saturday) and Stony Brook women's lacrosse (Sunday).
The measures will be re-evaluated after March 29, according to USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone.
UC Irvine also plans to move to online-only courses beginning next week. Final exams will also be administered remotely.
"In limited cases, such as courses involving a lab, studio instruction or clinical experiences, instructors will need to make accommodations to meet the course requirements whether in person or via an alternative delivery mode," according to a university statement.
Graduate students will switch to remote work "wherever possible." Students living on the campus are being urged to return to off-campus residences and "if possible, to stay at home during the spring quarter."
Like other UC campuses, UC Irvine will also cancel all campus events and gatherings of more than 100 participants, and athletic events will be held without spectators.
Whittier College will move to all online classes beginning March 23 and continuing until at least April 3.
Loyola Marymount University will conduct only online classes from March 16-31.
Top Image: A student skates past an emergency call box on the CSULB campus in Long Beach | Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze/Getty Images