Southern Maine Community College instructor Joe Moore points to a hybrid car battery readout on a laptop computer on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. The college will start the semester remotely, though it plans to resume in-person classes on Jan. 24. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

One Maine community college will start the semester remotely, and others are considering such a shift amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Southern Maine Community College in South Portland and Brunswick, the largest community college in Maine, will hold its first week of classes remotely beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 18, with in-person instruction set to return on Monday, Jan. 24, community college system spokesperson Noel Gallagher said Thursday.

The community college joins a handful of other Maine colleges that are starting classes remotely this semester. Four of the state’s seven community colleges had already announced they were delaying the start of the semester due to COVID-19’s rapid spread.

The University of Maine System said earlier this week that some programs, particularly at the University of Southern Maine, will start remotely. In addition, university professors can seek administrators’ permission to offer their classes remotely through the end of January.

The presidents of each of the seven community colleges need to decide for themselves whether they want to start remotely based on local conditions, ​​system president David Daigler said.

Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor had not decided to start remotely as of Thursday, Gallagher said. The community college system also includes colleges based in Auburn, Fairfield, Wells, Presque Isle and Machias.

Unlike the University of Maine System, the community college system has instituted a booster shot requirement for all in-person students. Students must show evidence that they received a booster shot no more than one month after becoming eligible.