(KRON) — The Berkeley Unified School District will be reinstating its mandatory indoor mask mandate on Monday, March 23, the district announced on Friday. The announcement comes amid what City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez calls a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

The Berkeley Health Officer went on to say “the City of Berkeley strongly recommends that BUSD use its authority as a local education agency and an employer to reinstate a mask mandate for students and staff until the end of the 2021-2022 academic school year.”

“Because of this strong recommendation from the City of Berkeley Public Health Officer, BUSD will reinstate mandated indoor masking on Monday, May 23,” announced BUSD Superintendent Brent Stephens in a statement.

Beginning Monday, all BUSD students and staff and any other individual on a district campus or at a district facility will be required to wear a mask while indoors. Masking will also be required at all indoor school events, including indoor graduations, even those that take place off campus.

“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,” said Stephens. “We are experiencing high levels of COVID in our schools and community this week.”

The district encouraged students and staff to be vigilant for symptoms and advised anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from school or work and test. Those who test negative are advised to return to school or work when their symptoms improve or resolves.

As a result of the increase in cases, BUSD is experiencing an increase in educator absences and is currently only able to fill about 50 percent of teacher absences with a substitute. BUSD administrators are currently working in classrooms as teachers to fill in for the absences