Clovis · Education · Visalia

Mask on or off at school? Here’s where Valley school districts fall on the issue.

Students and teachers will be required throughout California to wear masks when they return to the classroom next month to start the school year, but the enforcement of the state’s policy is up in the air for at least one major Central Valley school district. 

Per the state’s directive, it will be up to each individual school district to enforce the wearing of masks indoors. However, the state is not requiring students and teachers to be socially distanced. 

The topic was a point of contention at Clovis Unified School District’s board meeting Wednesday evening. 

Hundreds of parents and students spoke out against the state’s mandate to the Clovis Unified board. 

The board did not take any action on whether or not the district will enforce the rules, but board members did discuss their desire for more local control, district spokeswoman Kelly Avants said.  

The board also discussed their commitment to following the state’s requirements but to also seek a process through the state to receive a waiver. 

“It is our intent to complete work on these processes and communicate details to staff and parents by early August,” Avants said. 

On the other hand, other major school districts in the area are moving full steam ahead with the mask mandate. 

Fresno Unified School District will enforce the indoor mask requirement. 

“We will continue to follow the California Department of Public Health guidelines regarding masks which includes guidance on students who ‘fail to bring a face covering’ or ‘persons exempted from wearing face coverings due to a medical condition,’” district spokeswoman Vanessa Ramirez said. 

Fresno Unified will provide masks for all students and will work with families of students who have medical conditions. 

Central Unified School District is in the same boat as its larger neighbor and will require masks indoors. 

While masks are not required outdoors, Central Unified spokesman Gilbert Magallon said the district will encourage students to wear masks in crowded settings. 

Central Unified produced a back to school video to help prepare students and parents for the upcoming school year. 

Visalia Unified School District will also enforce the state’s directive. 

“Visalia Unified will work with students and families who are not able to wear a mask,” Superintendent Tamara Ravalin said in a statement. “Masks are not required outdoors. The CDPH is working on guidance for extracurricular activities such as music, theater, sports, etc., and additional information on those activities is forthcoming.”

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.