The University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) logo, located in Santa Cruz, California. (UCSC via Bay City News)

University of California, Santa Cruz announced Tuesday that classes will be held online for the first two weeks of the winter quarter in January out of concern about the recent rise in COVID-19 infections and the likelihood that they will continue to increase because of holiday gatherings.

The school’s winter quarter starts Jan. 3, but instruction will take place remotely instead of in-person until Jan. 18, although students are encouraged to return to campus on schedule and other campus operations will continue, UC Santa Cruz officials said.

The announcement comes on the same day that Santa Cruz County confirmed cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the county. Experts say the omicron variant is more transmissible between people than previous variants.

Stanford University has also moved to online instruction for the first two weeks of the winter quarter in January.

UC Santa Cruz students are encouraged to pick up a COVID testing kit to use at home right before they return to campus in January. They can be picked up at the Bay Tree Bookstore by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The full message from UC Santa Cruz about January campus plans can be found at https://news.ucsc.edu/2021/12/winter-quarter-update.html.