UC Santa Barbara | Credit: Courtesy

After the holiday break, UC Santa Barbara will move to fully remote instruction for at least the first two weeks of its winter quarter, at which time it will evaluate whether to return to in-person instruction.

Chancellor Henry Yang announced the decision in his December 21 message to the campus community, citing growing concerns over the Omicron variant.

“The decision to delay in-person teaching is related to the logistics of supporting students and instructors amid the uncertainties of the Omicron variant,” Yang wrote. “The uncertainty around Omicron poses a number of challenges for the start of in-person classes, including students and instructors who either test positive over winter break and cannot travel back to campus on time, or who test positive upon arrival and need to isolate.”

Yang said the decision was made in consultation with other college campuses, university leadership, campus health officials, students, and others in the campus community. The decision is also following the recommendation of the university’s COVID-19 Working Group.

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Six other UC campuses  — Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Cruz — made similar announcements on Tuesday, opting for a period of two weeks in remote learning, with all planning to return to on-campus instruction January 18, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

According to university officials, the two-week period of remote instruction allows students and instructors to navigate any COVID-19-related health issues or delays without the worry of missing classes, and also to get their booster doses if they have not already done so. 

University housing, dining halls, and other campus facilities will be open to those who choose to return to campus, and other operations other than instruction will continue as normal following the holiday.

“While we may be growing weary of the extra precautions necessary during a pandemic, we know we must remain diligent, flexible, and understanding amid this fluid situation,” Yang wrote.

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