Winter quarter classes began Monday at UCLA and UC Irvine remotely for a planned two weeks in response to surging COVID-19 cases.

In a letter to the Bruin community sent Dec. 21, Michael J. Beck, administrative vice chancellor, and Megan McEvoy, an professor of immunology and molecular genetics, wrote that all students should still plan to return to campus no later than Jan. 9 to participate “in a robust COVID-19 testing program that will help keep our community healthier.”

Faculty and staff will also participate in a testing regimen, wrote Beck and McEvoy, co-chairs of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force.

UC Irvine officials on Sunday released a message to the campus community, noting that “as we expected, COVID-19 did not take a break during the winter recess.”

“Over the last three weeks, nearly as many members of our community have tested positive for the virus than in the entire 10-week fall quarter,” according to the message posted on the university’s website. “Orange County and other regions throughout the world are experiencing similar increases.”

Classes will remain remote through Jan. 14, which will provide “time to properly assess our environment through testing, sequestration and re-testing,” according to the university.

“We understand that this is not an ideal way to kick off the new year. We are committed to in-person learning, and believe that these protocols will help us return as quickly and safely as possible.”

COVID vaccine booster shots are required for eligible UC students and staff.

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