Berkeley High School next to the civic center in Berkeley, Calif., on July 21, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

Berkeley Unified School District is reinstating an indoor mask mandate for students and staff through the end of the school year because of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, district officials announced Friday.

Superintendent Brent Stephens wrote in a letter to the district community that the decision was made after discussions between the district and Berkeley city public health officials, who recommended the return of a mask mandate because of an increase in cases, including a number of classroom clusters that indicated the virus was being transmitted in schools.

The mandate took effect Monday for all BUSD students and staff and anyone else at a district campus or facility while indoors.

“Our collective goal in the final weeks of school is to ensure the last two weeks and accompanying celebrations can be attended by as many of our students and families as possible,” Stephens wrote.

He said because of an increase in teacher absences and a shortage of substitutes, district administrators have recently been working in classrooms as teachers, and said high school seniors are receiving COVID tests and are being asked to test on the morning of any large indoor event like a graduation.

The full letter from Stephens about the mask mandate can be found at https://www.berkeleyschools.net/2022/05/new-public-health-guidance-from-the-city-of-berkeley-public-health-officer-reinstating-indoor-masking-nuevas-directrices-de-salud-publica-del-funcionario-de-salud-publica-del-gobierno-de-la-c/.