VISALIA, California. (KSEE) – COVID-19 cases are on the rise in one south Valley school district less than one week into the school year.
As 32,000 students returned to in-person learning on Thursday, the Visalia Unified School District faced the first test of the year.
“We’ve seen the numbers going up. We hoped it wouldn’t happen this quickly,” explained Visalia Unified Assistant Superintendent Doug Cardoza.
Within four days, Cardoza says four classrooms have had to be shut down due to COVID-19. That’s more than a hundred students now at home.
“We are pulling subs, we are pulling staff to cover for teachers out on quarantine,” Cardoza said.
Tulare County Health says within the past 30 days, 72 students at 28 school sites have tested positive for COVID-19, though the true impact of schools reopening won’t likely be seen for a few weeks.
In the meantime, starting Wednesday Visalia Unified will require masks outdoors too.
“I started showing symptoms this morning myself actually,” said Joe Luna.
Luna’s son, a senior at El Diamante high school, tested positive on Monday.
“For them to go back to school one week and this happens, it speaks loud you know,” Luna said.
With only his kids being his eyes at school, he worries not everyone is taking the precautions as seriously as his family has.
“It’s just hard to monitor the students and the staff and keeping everyone social distanced there’s going to be people who don’t agree with it and at the end of the day the safest thing for the kids at the end of the day is probably to be remote,” explained Luna.
Remote learning is something Cardoza says the district hopes to avoid by doubling down on masking inside the classroom and out.
“We want kids to be in school, we’ve got sports going on and if we don’t do something quickly, many of those things could go back to what they were a year ago,” Cardoza said.
Visalia Unified is not the only district dealing with rising covid cases in the Central Valley.
In Clovis Unified, the district is reporting 38 staff members have tested positive and five students so far during the month of August.