AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the omicron COVID-19 variant continues to spread in the Central Texas area, the University of Texas at Austin said it will be shifting to a brief online start for the 2022 semester and ask for students to get tested within three days of returning to campus.

In a letter sent Tuesday evening, the university said it would be asking faculty members to teach remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, with a target date of Jan. 31 to return to the originally-assigned teaching modality. Faculty members could still choose to teach in person between the semester start date of Jan. 18 and Jan. 28, while also providing an online delivery during that time.

The university said it doesn’t anticipate online delivery will be provided for classes listed as in-person or hybrid after Jan. 31.

Students are also being asked again to be tested for COVID-19 within three days before returning to campus. The university had a similar protocol in place for the 2021 fall semester.

All students on campus for the semester must get a viral COVID-19 test, antigen or PCR.

“During the winter break, we continued to monitor local and statewide conditions related to the omicron variant. COVID-19 cases have rapidly increased during the past few weeks. Although severe illness and resulting hospitalizations appear less prevalent with this variant, we expect conditions in our community to be challenging during the next month,” said UT President Jay Hartzell in the letter sent out Tuesday evening. “One of our key goals is to allow for a more gradual return to typical campus density, while starting classes and continuing our research to the extent possible.”

Read the university’s full letter here.