SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse University will postpone the start of its spring semester by two weeks in order to reduce the impact of an expected post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases, university officials announced.

The semester will start Feb. 8 and end May 21, Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud said Monday.

“Starting our semester two weeks later best positions us to resume residential instruction in a manner that safeguards the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and the Central New York community,” Syverud said in a statement on the university's website.

The decision was made in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department and should allow some of the university's front-line workers to be vaccinated before students return, Syverud said. Coronavirus regulations requiring masks and social distancing will remain in effect during the spring semester, he said.

Syracuse moved to all online classes in November and had initially planned to resume in-person learning on Jan. 25. But Syverud said that as COVID-19 cases surged over the holiday break it became clear that the next few weeks will be among “the most difficult our country and Central New York will experience since the onset of the pandemic.”