SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — University of California students may be starting the January term with remote learning as part of a plan to stop the spread of the COVID omicron variant.

UC President Dr. Michael V. Drake sent a letter to campus chancellors Tuesday morning directing each to implement a return-to-campus plan that “mitigates public health impacts, responds to the unique circumstances facing your campus, and maintains our teaching and research operations.”

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Drake said in the letter the directive may force individual campuses to begin the year with remote instruction to allow students go through a testing protocol as they return to instruction.

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“Given the differences in local conditions and campus operations across the University, the length of this remote instruction period may vary from campus to campus,” he said.

The return-to-campus plan would incorporate a test, sequester, and retest model as described in the UC Health Coordinating Committee’s guidance for returning students.

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Chancellors were tasked with emphasizing the importance of preventive measures on campus including masking and avoiding large gatherings, particularly indoors, during the opening weeks of winter quarter or spring semester.