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LA JOLLA, Calif. – UC San Diego is extending mandatory remote instruction through the end of the month amid the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, university officials announced Thursday.

The surge in cases is creating staffing shortages at the university and has impacted students’ ability to attend classes in person due to COVID exposure, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said in a statement. While campus housing and dining halls remain open, the extension means in-person instruction won’t begin at the university until Jan. 31.

“This decision allows UC San Diego to keep teaching modalities as simple as possible given that many students, faculty and staff may still be sick or recovering in the second half of the month or experiencing extra caregiving responsibilities,” Khosla said, adding that the extra time also gives students, faculty and staff more chances to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

UCSD previously announced it would keep instruction online for the first two weeks of its winter quarter, a period which was scheduled to end Jan. 17.

Under the latest guidance, the university is encouraging residential undergraduate students to stagger their return to campus between now and Jan. 31, according to Khosla. There is some flexibility as it pertains to return dates, but it is recommended students try to return closer to the end of the month.

All students will need to complete a PCR test “no less than 24 hours after arriving” on campus, UCSD said.

These tests are being made available at vending machines around campus and also can be scheduled at the Price Center, which is located a short distance from the Geisel Library.

For university workers, UCSD recommends supervisors encourage remote work through the end of January.

“In-person meetings are strongly discouraged and in-person events must be moved to remote modalities or rescheduled once in-person instruction resumes,” Khosla said.

UCSD isn’t the only one making adjustments as pandemic conditions worsen.

San Diego State University announced Wednesday that nearly all of its classes will be held virtually for the first two weeks of its spring semester. It will last from Jan. 19 through Feb. 4 with “minor exceptions,” a university email to its campus community shows.

UC Riverside and UC Irvine also previously announced a switch to remote instruction for a portion of January.