BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Officials at the University of California, Berkeley announced that the upcoming fall semester will begin without in-person classes, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise locally and across California.

“Given this development, as well as it being unlikely that there will be a dramatic reversal in the public health situation before the fall semester instruction begins on Aug. 26, we have made the difficult decision,” the university said in a statement to faculty and staff on Tuesday.

If in-person instruction does return this fall, students can continue to learn remotely and would not be required to attend classes in-person.

University officials said they are continuing to prepare if health conditions allow for a combination of in-person and virtual learning to be offered. Classes that would be prioritized for in-person learning include courses involving labs, studios or fieldwork. Other courses that would be prioritized include seminars for freshmen and sophomores, certain courses for first-year graduate students, and capstone courses for seniors.

The announcement comes as Alameda County remains under a state watch list due to the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Even if in-person classes is able to resume, the rest of the fall semester would be under distance learning after the Thanksgiving break.