Visalia Unified staff shortages continue as cases reported at all VUSD schools and sites

·2 min read
A technician performs a covid-19 test at Redwood High School on Tuesday morning in Visalia.
A technician performs a covid-19 test at Redwood High School on Tuesday morning in Visalia.

Thousands of students and hundreds of Visalia Unified staff are at home after testing positive for COVID-19 or potentially coming into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals last week.

Staff members received an email stating all Visalia Unified School District Work locations, including over 40 school sites, were potentially exposed Thursday.

This is the first time this year the district has sent out an email to staff stating all of its sites were potentially exposed on the same day. The district is legally required to send out notices to its staff regarding potential exposures.

Over 160 staff tested positive for COVID-19 Friday, according to the district, and nearly 580 staff are in quarantine or isolation after being identified as close contacts.

The week prior, around 185 staff were positive with COVID-19 and 440 were reported to be in quarantine or isolation.

Staff receiving the notice are not required to quarantine, nor does it mean the individual receiving the notice came in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

The district experienced shortages among bus drivers last week as well, leading to delayed bus routes of up to 45 minutes.

"We don’t anticipate any delays this week," Batty said, "although this is subject to change if we experience a staffing shortage again in transportation."

There were also over 21% Visalia Unified students marked absent from class Friday, spokesperson Kim Batty said. On an average day, the district reports around 5% of its students are absent from classrooms, roughly 1,380 overall.

On Friday, 5,850 students were absent.

Last week, around 19% of Visalia Unified students, more than 5,200 overall, were absent.

Since returning from winter break, student absent numbers have continued to increase week after week. Similarly, COVID-19 numbers throughout Tulare County have continued to rise as well.

Last week, local health officials reported a weekly record of 7,270 new COVID-19 cases. The case and positivity rates and current active cases of 9,423 are the highest recorded in Tulare County during the pandemic,

Lauren Jennings covers education and news for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. Follow her on Twitter @lolojennings. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Visalia Unified staff shortages continue with COVID-19 cases at all schools

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