VANCOUVER -- As schools and universities gear up for winter break, at least one institution is planning to extend the time off between terms.

The University of British Columbia announced Thursday it'll extend its winter break later into January in an effort to "alleviate the pressure on our community" during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The term will start on Jan. 11 for most students at both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, rather than Jan 4. 

"The hope is that by allowing a delayed start to classes, we can help our students, faculty and staff to better prepare," Santa Ono, UBC's president, said in a statement.

Some programs, Ono said, can't accommodate a late start, so they'll keep to their original schedule. 

Staff and faculty are still required to return to work on Jan. 4, unless they already had a vacation scheduled. 

Ono said the April exam schedule will also be adjusted to make sure exams can still all be completed on time. For some, that might mean taking an exam on a Sunday. 

"As I reflect on the year, I am proud of the way our community has come together to ensure we continue to provide an outstanding experience for our students," Ono said.

So far, public elementary schools and high schools haven't announced changes to their winter break, though B.C.'s top doctor has repeatedly said officials are looking at all options. 

"It's incredibly important for families and for children to have in-person, in-class (education), but we're looking at all of our options," Henry said in a news conference last month about the possibility of a longer break.

With files from The Canadian Press