Education · Visalia

Seeking to get back on campus, Tulare Co. schools reopen as “day camps”

Two Tulare County schools are skirting the state’s ban on holding in-person classes by operating as day camps. 

The Tulare County Department of Public Health said the two schools are Visalia’s Central Valley Christian Schools, a private school, and Outside Creek Elementary, a public school. 

“We are social beings and crave the interaction that in-person school provides,” stated CVC Schools Superintendent Larry Baker. “At the same time, by keeping cohorts small, and implementing health precautions like masks and distancing, the plan shows respect and care for the larger community in which we live.” 

The Tulare County Department of Public Health admitted that it has no authority or oversight over day camps, meaning they cannot prevent the schools from operating in this manner. 

However, the department opposes schools reopening as day camps due to the potential spread of COVID-19. 

“Due to the current epidemiological data reporting high case transmission and positivity rates in Tulare County, public health officials are concerned and discourage any effort to congregate children from multiple households as it poses a risk of significant spread of COVID-19,” the department said in a statement. 

“We are in communications with local school officials and encouraging the practice of distance learning as much as possible until COVID-19 case rates decline. Ensuring the health and safety of children, teachers, staff and all of their families is our top priority.” 

CVC will start operating on Sep. 8 with a hybrid model, allowing students to remain home and participate in distance learning and bringing others to campus under the guise of a day camp. 

All students will stay home on Mondays and conduct school via distance learning, and all students and staff will be required to wear a mask or face shield when on campus. CVC will provide one cloth face mask for each student. 

Elementary and middle school will have a morning and afternoon session with half of each grade level attending one session each day on Tuesday through Friday. 

High school students will come to campus either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in a group of no more than 13 students, and instruction will be held outdoors or in large spaces. 

On Fridays, high school students will have the option to go to campus on Fridays for in-person tutoring or instruction. 

Outside Creek, a K-8 school that was among the last public schools to close in-person instruction at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year, has similar policies in place, according to a report from KFSN. 

“It very much is operating like a school would with small cohorts and with extra precautions put in place,” the public health department told the television station.

“They do have measures in place of face masks, increasing disinfecting and teaching the students infection control measures.”

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.