Education · Visalia/Tulare

Visalia Unified upgrades mask mandate to indoors, outdoors

Less than a week after students began returning to the classroom, one school district is tightening its mask mandate.

Visalia Unified School District announced Tuesday that, effective Wednesday, its students and staff would be required to wear masks both in the classroom and outdoors during breaks.

The new order comes shortly after Kaweah Health reached its capacity and declared it would be triaging patients following a weekend-long surge in coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients.

“[Visalia Unified] is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of staff being placed in quarantine,” the district said in a statement.

Visalia schools have also had to confront quarantining classrooms shortly after the resumption of in-person instruction.

“Because the need for quarantine is affected by the circumstances of the exposure to COVID-19, such as whether or not the individual was wearing a mask when the exposure occurred, many of the staff and student quarantines could have been prevented if masks were required outdoors,” the district said in its statement.

The mandate extends to all school functions, including extra-curricular activities and athletics.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.