Bellevue College will begin winter quarter classes remotely for the first four weeks of January amid a surge in COVID-19 cases reported in King County driven by the latest coronavirus variant, according to a Tuesday alert from the college’s interim president, Gary Locke.

King County has reported an average of 1,586 COVID-19 infections a day and seen a 195% increase in cases in the past seven days, according to data from state health officials.

“I know we all want to get back to learning and working in-person … but the health of our community is our highest priority,” Locke wrote. Earlier this month, the University of Washington also announced it would implement remote learning for the first week of the winter quarter, although the UW also said it is “committed” to a return to in-person learning Jan. 10.

Bellevue students should plan to attend classes remotely through the online learning platform Canvas from Jan. 3-28, even if classes are scheduled as in-person, according to the alert. Though most classes will be remote until the end of January, some students in certain courses, such as those in science health fields, may meet in person beginning in the second week of January.

While student housing will remain open, several campus services will only be available remotely during those four weeks, according to the alert, although it wasn’t clear what services will remain accessible in person. Computer labs on campus may be available after the first week of January, the alert said, and students will receive email updates regarding closures.

In the meantime, the president’s Cabinet and Flu team will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases and impacts on the community.

Officials are expected to announce no later than Jan. 25 a plan for returning to campus, according to the alert.