Surge in COVID-19 infections leads UCSD to extend use of online classes until late January

The national surge in COVID-19 infections has led UC San Diego to double the amount of time students will have to take classes online — a period that will now last at least four weeks.

The university made the temporary shift to online Monday and will stay in that format until Jan. 31, when in-person teaching will resume, campus administrators said late Thursday.

“Simulation models that map real cases to predicted cases currently estimate the peak of infections will occur between now and the middle of January,” UCSD said in an email to the campus community.

“While the omicron variant generally produces less severe cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated and boosted individuals, its fast and extensive spread is resulting in widespread absenteeism throughout the nation’s workplace and schools.

“This has placed increased stress on staffing for hospitals, schools and everyday services such as groceries, restaurants and pharmacies.

“The UC San Diego community is affected in two ways. First, we are experiencing staffing shortages similar to other employers. Second, a number of students are exposed to COVID, impacting their ability to attend classes in person.”

Until recently, UCSD had operated one of the most effective anti-COVID infection programs among American universities. The student infection rate was generally in the 0.20 percent range, and sometimes lower. But as of Wednesday, that figure had jumped to 9.46 percent.

“There’s a little disappointment but this was kind of expected,” said Manu Agni, president of Associated Students, which represents the school’s nearly 43,000 students.

“We’re seeing the highest number of infections we’ve ever seen. I personally know at least two dozen people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

“Some students will be disappointed because they worked so hard to find housing in the La Jolla market, and now they’re going to have to spend part of their year online. They came here for an in-person experience.”

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