Monday, March 15, 2021

HSU Women's Basketball Team Opts Out of Competing This Season

Posted By on Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 6:18 AM

HSU women's basketball guard/forward Alexia Thrower, who graduated last spring, during a competition pre-pandemic. - HSU ATHLETICS
  • HSU Athletics
  • HSU women's basketball guard/forward Alexia Thrower, who graduated last spring, during a competition pre-pandemic.

After Humboldt State University announced that student-athletes would return to competition this season, members of the women’s basketball team released a statement on their collective decision not to compete due to health and safety concerns, including injuries.


HSU’s women’s basketball coach Michelle Bento-Jackson, who’s been coaching collegiate sports since 1992 and has been head coach of HSU’s women's basketball team for five seasons, said the decision was the right one for the team, as there were some players recovering from injuries.

“This was specifically a women's basketball decision,” Bento-Jackson said. “We collectively decided that it was not the best decision for us and for a number of reasons — our roster size, injuries. There were just a number of things that came to play in conversations that we just felt that we’re really fortunate that we’re here getting to practice and that we decided we’re going to focus this spring on getting better and practicing and building our team chemistry and it just seemed like the right decision for us specifically.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, all teams, including individual student-athletes, were given the opportunity to opt-out from participating in their sport this season, including competitions, Bento-Jackson said. For example, if any student athlete doesn’t feel comfortable returning to campus due to the pandemic, they had the option to stay home.

HSU Women's Basketball Coach Michelle Bento-Johnson coaching during a game last season. - HSU ATHLETICS
  • HSU Athletics
  • HSU Women's Basketball Coach Michelle Bento-Johnson coaching during a game last season.

The decision wasn’t predetermined, she said, adding that the team’s short time period to prepare for competitions was one of the many reasons they decided not to play. Before the pandemic, teams usually had about eight to nine weeks to prepare for competitions. This year, players only had a few weeks.

On Feb. 24, HSU announced that student-athletes would return to competition this semester with strict COVID-19 safety protocols in place, including frequent COVID-19 testing and quarantines. HSU men’s basketball team was the first to compete in an away game just a day after HSU’s announcement.

Though the women’s basketball team has decided not to compete this season, Bento-Johnson said she and her team are thankful for having the option to not compete this year and acknowledged the university and the athletics department’s efforts in ensuring the safety of HSU athletes returning to competition.

“I'm really happy that the other athletes are getting out there and our men's basketball team already did, some of our other teams are going to be competing and I think that's awesome,” Bento-Johnson said, “We're very fortunate that our department has put us in a position — I mean there's a lot of schools that can't compete — and we're very fortunate that we’ve been put in a position where we have that option, whether we want it to compete or not, and for that, we're really thankful.”

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Native American Curriculum Aims to Bring Culturally Informed Education and Representation to Humboldt County High Schools

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 2:20 PM

  • Save California Salmon
Save California Salmon, along with the Blue Lake Rancheria, the Yurok Tribe's Visitor Center, Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District's Indian Education Program, Humboldt State University's Native American Studies Department and the Hoopa High School Water Protector's club created a curriculum that meets California standards and responds to the state's "urgent water, climate and educational crises" and "need for Native American culturally informed education and representation in schools."

The high school curriculum — dubbed the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California High School Curriculum and Teacher's Resource Guide — features online, classroom and nature-based learning environments, and responds to reports that Humboldt, Del Norte and other counties are failing Native students, and that Native youth are facing a mental health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s water and climate crises.

“This curriculum was created for high schools, however all of California’s primary and university students and faculty can benefit from the culturally informed lessons it provides,” said Cutcha Risling Baldy, HSU’s Native American Studies department chair. “California faces a water and climate crisis that will only be solved by foregrounding Indigenous management practices. Our restorative environmental management and tribal place-based knowledge are best practices for climate resiliency. If we teach the next generation how to better manage and live with the land. They will become the leaders that can solve our challenges.”
  • Save California Salmon
The Yurok Tribe, Blue Lake Rancheria and Humboldt County Office of Education will be hosting webinars on teaching culturally appropriate environmental education on March 26th and April 2 at 3:30 pm.

Read the full press release below.

Continue reading »

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Monday, March 8, 2021

Book Drive Promoting Equity and Boosting Local Bookstores

Posted By on Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 12:29 PM

February is a short month so it's only fair the Eureka branch of the NAACP is extending its Black History Month book drive through March 15. The drive, which aims to put books featuring Black and African-American history, arts, stories and illustrations into the hands of local K-12 students is a double-duty donation opportunity, asking folks to buy the books from local independent bookstores.


The NAACP notes these books can "enrich the lives of Black children and promote equity, diversity and empathy in schools." All while tossing some cash into the local bookstores we love. Hit up one of the participating shops — Northtown Books, Tin Can Mailman, Blake's Books, Eureka Books and Booklegger — to order recommended books or gift cards. 
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Saturday, February 27, 2021

HSU Athletes Return to Play

Posted By on Sat, Feb 27, 2021 at 6:02 AM

Humboldt State University - FILE
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  • Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University athletes are returning to the fields and courts as the university, National Collegiate Athletic Association and Humboldt County Public have set "strict health and safety guidelines" for players to return.

In a media availability on Thursday, County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said that collegiate sports are governed by the NCAA, which sets standards similar to the California Department of Public Health for sports and outdoor recreation. With a COVID-19 protocol plan submitted to Public Health, HSU athletes are able to return.

According to the HSU release, the athletes started the return to participation process in the fall of 2020 and continue this spring following county Public Health, NCAA and university protocols, including consulting with Humboldt County Public Health officials, frequent COVID-19 testing (at least three times a week for those in competitions), small group practices, wearing face coverings on campus and on the road and travel-related quarantines.

Away games are planned, beginning with the men's basketball team and, according to the protocols, players must quarantine for 14 days when the team returns to the HSU campus.

On Twitter, HSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports Jane Teixeira praised the university and athletics department for work done "in front and behind the scenes so [student-athletes] can do something they love."

The release also states that an NCAA survey found that student athletes are reporting higher levels of mental exhaustion, anxiety and feelings of depression during the pandemic, with higher rates of distress among female, LGBTQ, and POC athletes.

“Although this isn’t an ideal situation for anybody, I know my team and others are grateful to get back to playing in any capacity,” said Macy Thomas, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee co-president and a volleyball player. “Some of our teams are getting travel games put on the schedule so that is a huge win for them. We have extensive safety protocols in place to ensure we can have another successful semester."

The move to in-person sports activities will pave the way for other campus functions.

In an email to the Journal, HSU spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth said the school will be able to apply the "pod" group protocols that student-athletes are following to other campus and academic in-person activities like field-trips, in-person courses, events and more for the fall of 2021 semester.
"The ability to travel is integral to the hands-on learning experience that HSU prides itself on providing. Because of the frequency of testing of student athletes, we are able to work through what procedures and protocols we need to apply to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure while traveling with a group that is being closely watched," Scott-Goforth said. "This will allow us to walk away with a solid game plan that we will hopefully be able to implement across campus come fall 2021."

Read the full press release below.

Humboldt State University student-athletes are cautiously returning to training, practice, and exhibition games this spring.

Under strict health and safety guidelines from the NCAA, Humboldt County Public Health, and the University, this is the first opportunity since the COVID-19 pandemic began for student athletes to return to a bit of normalcy. The careful, deliberate approach to returning can have implications for the future of campus functions like field trips, in-person courses, events, and more.

An NCAA survey found that student-athletes, like other young adults, are reporting higher levels of mental exhaustion, anxiety, and feelings of depression during the pandemic. Higher rates of distress were reported among female, LGBTQ, and POC athletes.

Students, faculty, staff, and community have all made adjustments to slow the spread of the virus. All of the University, as a whole, worked diligently to have an opportunity for students to return to the classroom and activities,” says Jane Teixeira, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Sports. “A return to sports activities has had a real impact on student-athletes. You see it everyday when you watch these young people participate, you see it in their academic performance.

“Although this isn’t an ideal situation for anybody, I know my team and others are grateful to get back to playing in any capacity,” said Macy Thomas, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Co-President and Volleyball player. “Some of our teams are getting travel games put on the schedule so that is a huge win for them. We have extensive safety protocols in place to ensure we can have another successful semester. Go Jacks!”

Extensive safety protocols will be in place for the health of the student-athletes and coaching staff, as well as the opposing teams. Following best practices set by professional sports leagues and others, universities have been divided into regional “pods,” limiting the interaction between athletes from different schools.

The Lumberjacks started the return to participation process in Fall 2020 and continue this Spring following County Public Health, NCAA, and University protocols including testing on a regular and consistent basis. Protocols include

•Consultation with Humboldt County Public Health officials
•Frequent testing — teams in competition will be tested three times a week
•Small group practices
•Wearing face coverings on campus and on the road
•Travel-related quarantines

Each team will be on the road for multiple games over the course of two to three weeks. None of the games are part of regular conference competition, which is not occurring this year.

Athletes are being housed primarily in athlete-designated buildings, suites, and apartments. As with any campus resident, all students traveling out of Humboldt County are required to complete a 14-day quarantine before they return to their assigned room space. Athletic teams will be following the same process and upon their travel return, will be housed in separate facilities and/or apartments to quarantine for 14 days prior to them returning to their assigned room space.

“We are able to accomplish this largely on our ability to test frequently, these athletes are some of the most frequently tested individuals in the county,” says Cris Koczera, Emergency Coordinator and Interim Risk Management Director.

Athletics training, practice, and travel will help HSU return to other activities safely, when possible. The success of these teams will inform the continuation of field trips, additional face-to-face instruction, campus events, and other engagements. The University is hoping to be able to apply the protocols and guidelines that are successful to the broader campus in Fall 2021

Men’s Basketball will be the first to travel, currently scheduled to play games this weekend against Academy of Art. They will continue with Dominican, Fresno Pacific, and Simpson, with dates and times to be announced. Go to for updated information.

Though no spectators will be allowed, games will be available to stream online for a small fee by the host institution, and Athletics will be sharing information about the games on its website and social media.

“I cannot express how the opportunity to return to a sense of ‘normalcy’ has had an exponential positive mental health effect for students and staff to return to the ‘physical lab’ of the field or court,” says Teixeira. “Our student-athletes love to play. They’re motivated to be exemplary and play safely during the pandemic. The continued support of Lumberjack Athletics, our student-athletes, HSU, and the amazing Humboldt County community is greatly appreciated. We are in this together and #WeRUnitedJacks.” More information on student-athletes and mental health can be read here.
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Friday, February 19, 2021

Eureka City Schools to Offer In-Person Classes in March

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 at 1:24 PM

Eureka City Schools' main office. - FILE
  • File
  • Eureka City Schools' main office.
The Eureka City Schools Board voted last night to open up for in-person instruction by March 1 for pre-school to eighth grade, with families having the option to continue distance learning.

Superintendent Fred Van Vleck noted in a Facebook post that the California Department of Public Health does not allow high schools to reopen in areas under the purple COVID-19 risk tier — which is where Humboldt County currently sits — but the district is “optimistic” the region will move into the red tier next week, which would possibly allow for the move by the March 1 date.

“As we transition to the option of in-person learning, there will be much work happening in preparation.  Many of the details are not yet available,” Van Vleck’s post states. “Your student’s school site will be in contact with you next week to determine whether or not you would like your student to stay on distance learning or attend in-person.  Sites will also be reaching out with the schedule details, as there will likely be modifications to start and end times for both in-person and distance learning to accommodate bussing.”

The board’s decision to reopen was 4-1, with trustee G Mario Fernandez casting the sole dissenting vote.

In a Facebook post, Fernandez noted he supports in-person learning but had hoped the process would move a little slower with a phased-in approach.

“As it's been almost a year of pandemic guidelines and distance learning for students, I believe we can be in person as long as we remain strict adherents to the social guidelines that are now normal,” he wrote. “My concern remains with keeping our community healthy and safe, though, not at the detriment of students or education staff.”

Read the ECS post below:

Last night, on Thursday, February 18th, the Eureka City Schools Board met and determined that in-person instruction will be available as an option for all grade levels, preschool through high school. This means you will have an option for whether or not you would like your student to attend in-person instruction or continue on distance learning. 

In-person learning will be available starting Monday, March 1st, for preschool through 8th grade.  As of right now, the California Department of Public Health will not allow Eureka High School or Zoe Barnum High School to open for in-person instruction until Humboldt County has been in the Red Tier for 5 days.  We are optimistic that the County will move to the Red Tier on Tuesday, February 23rd, thus potentially allowing the high schools to provide the option for in-person learning on Monday, March 1st.

As we transition to the option of in-person learning, there will be much work happening in preparation.  Many of the details are not yet available.  Your student’s school site will be in contact with you next week to determine whether or not you would like your student to stay on distance learning or attend in-person.  Sites will also be reaching out with the schedule details, as there will likely be modifications to start and end times for both in-person and distance learning to accommodate bussing.  If you have specific questions, please contact your student’s site.

We will not be able to transport students on our buses at the normal capacity, so if you have the means to get your student to school, please plan to do so.  For those who rely on bussing, we will do our best to safely accommodate as many students as possible.  More information will be available next week.

As we transition back to in-person learning, please be patient with your student's teachers, their school site, and the District. We are starting a new way of learning, a combination of in-person and distance learning, that teachers have never done before.  We are all but certain to have issues as we learn how to best serve students in two different learning modalities.

As students return to in-person instruction, please be advised, all students must wear a face covering and follow travel advisory and contact quarantines as directed by Humboldt County Public Health.

Please pause and consider your plans for safe interaction with others.  Please follow the advice of Humboldt County Public Health to help keep your family and our community safe. 

Stay healthy and stay strong.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

School Reopenings More Likely in Rural Areas, at Private Schools

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2021 at 5:36 AM

New state mapping data details California’s school-reopening divide, in which hundreds of school districts — mostly smaller and rural or inland — are offering in-person instruction to elementary students while many of the state’s largest, urban districts remain indefinitely in remote learning.

But the divide between public and private schools is much starker: Eleven months after schools closed for in-person learning, most California private schools appear to offer some form of in-person learning, according to the state’s map data.

The maps published Friday by the California Department of Public Health offers the first nearly comprehensive picture — not every private or charter school has reported data — of exactly where schools are physically open. The state’s maps note whether district, charter and private schools are offering in-person learning to students full-time, in a hybrid model that splits time on campus and at home, or in distance learning only.

You can view the maps here.

Public pressure toward reopening has increased as other states are phasing in on-campus learning. Most California counties, however, have not yet begun offering vaccines to educators, a key sticking point in negotiations between school boards, superintendents and labor unions for full-scale reopenings in California.

Humboldt County has starting vaccinating teachers and support staff.

The schools that have reopened have done so using state safety guidance but with widely varying testing protocols, with some implementing little or no surveillance testing.

The contrast between public and private school reopenings has been consistent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Months ago, K-6 schools could apply for waivers from the state department of education to reopen for in-person instruction. Private schools far outstripped public schools in approved waivers. Most private and charter schools do not have the same teacher union representation that public school districts do.

The Safe Schools for All Plan introduced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in late December included new health and safety guidelines for in-person instruction, as well as requirements that schools report to the state whether they are physically open. Under the new rules, which went into effect Jan. 25, schools are required to report their status, as well as data on cases transmitted within campuses, to the state Department of Public Health biweekly.

A release last week did not include data detailing outbreaks reported at schools, though the state said the information “will be added as soon as possible.”

“As COVID-19 conditions continue to improve and vaccinations ramp up throughout the state, this map will provide local communities with accessible, up-to-date information on how districts in their communities and beyond are adapting to the pandemic, including safety planning and implementation,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Friday.

For nearly a year, state officials had little information on school reopenings since the initial closures, which frustrated lawmakers said at a hearing last fall hampered the state’s response to reopening campuses.

The data released Feb. 12 arrives at a pivotal moment in California’s fraught school-reopening debate.

In dozens of counties, case rates are falling below the 25 positive cases per 100,000 residents threshold that allow school districts to offer in-person instruction to elementary so long as strict safety measures are put in place.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that a deal with the Legislature centered on reopening elementary schools this spring was imminent after widespread criticism stalled his initial proposal. State data shows fewer high schools have physically reopened compared with elementary schools. Middle and high schools are also not allowed to reopen unless their counties reach the red tier in the state’s reopening framework, meaning case rates have fallen below 7 positives per 100,000 residents.

The new data illustrates the different realities playing out for students across California.

In San Francisco, where local officials are suing the school board and district to hasten reopening campuses, all of the city’s 108 district schools serving 53,000 public-school students remain in online learning, while 15,800 students in 114 of the city’s private, parochial and public charter schools are learning in person.

A short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, nearly all of Marin County’s public and private schools are offering in-person instruction. All but one elementary school campus was open in some fashion as of late January, according to Mary Jane Burke, superintendent of the Marin County Office of Education.

In Marin, there were nine cases of suspected in-school transmission between early September, when several campuses first reopened, and Jan. 29, according to information tracked by the county.

Public schools in many large cities and communities that have experienced higher case rates appear more likely to remain in online learning, according to the state’s maps.

Some of California’s public schools reopened as early as August, namely in northern and rural counties, including Ferndale and Fortuna.

In the Placerville Union School District, a district of 1,300 students located 45 minutes northeast of Sacramento where most schools are shuttered, was among the public schools that began hybrid instruction to start the academic year.

“If you put the protocols in place, it runs smooth,” Placerville superintendent Eric Bonniksen said. “All of our students are wearing masks. All of our teachers are wearing masks, we are doing social distancing. Overall, it runs smooth like a regular school day.”

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Teacher Vaccinations in California Determined by Luck, Location

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 6:00 AM

  • iStock
How soon teachers can expect to get vaccinated depends largely on where they live and could determine whether the bulk of California’s students return to campuses this spring — or next fall.

Teacher vaccinations have emerged as a central point of contention in California’s charged debate over reopening schools as unions representing teachers and school employees have listed vaccine access as one of their demands before returning to campuses. But, faced with a limited supply and dueling priority groups, many of California’s largest counties have not yet begun offering vaccines to teachers.

And though some counties expect to begin vaccinating teachers within the next week or so, several others told CalMatters that their supply’s scarcity makes it difficult to project when their educators could expect a dose. Some counties don’t expect to offer vaccinations to teachers until a month from now or late March.

The county-by-county variance in teacher vaccinations runs the gamut:

In Marin County, most campuses have been open for some time and educators started getting vaccines last month.

Teachers in Ventura County can likely get vaccinated a month from now.

Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have no estimate for when that might happen.

Humboldt County educators have already been receiving vaccines, starting with those conducting in-person learning.

Mixed messaging and a decentralized approach have resulted in a chaotic vaccine rollout roughly two months after the first doses prioritized for frontline health workers arrived in California in mid-December.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference today that schools are unlikely to physically reopen this school year if vaccinations for every teacher are a prerequisite.

“When you’re receiving less than 600,000 first doses a week, and you start to do the math… then we need to be honest with people, and let them know… that it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to accomplish that very idealistic goal before the end of the school year because of the scarcity of supply in vaccinations,” he said.

Currently, many of the state’s largest counties are approaching or have begun distributing doses to those in the first tier of Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination priority list. That broad group encompasses 8.5 million Californians and includes teachers, farm workers and first responders as well as residents 65 and older.

Newsom acknowledged Monday that vaccine scarcity has hampered the ability of local public health departments to vaccinate teachers in large numbers. A recent plan by the governor to incentivize school districts to reopen campuses with extra per-pupil funding stalled after many school officials, unions and legislators said it was unworkable.

At his Monday press conference, Newsom said he hoped to announce a new school reopening deal with the Legislature “this week” that would include “a prioritization framework to get our teachers vaccinated.”

“The challenge is self-evident,” Newsom said. “In each and every county, they have different capacity issues, different demographics, different issues in terms of availability of the vaccine and the number of people that they have prioritized within those tiers.”

Several public-health experts as well as the governor, who’s under intense public pressure to reopen K-12 public schools this spring, have said in-person learning can be done safely without vaccinating educators if paired with strict preventative measures such as masking, ventilation and cohorting students.

Newsom, who recently told school superintendents that requiring teacher vaccinations for reopening schools would effectively keep them closed this spring, has cited “low” numbers of transmission within reopened schools as evidence that in-person instruction has not resulted in higher community spread.

In January, 87 cases were linked to schools, a figure Newsom said was lower compared to November and December despite the state’s surge in cases and deaths.

The state, however, has yet to publish any data on cases in schools to affirm figures cited by Newsom. It remains one of the few states that is not publicly tracking which schools are open and whether they’ve experienced outbreaks.

Under new state guidance, the California Department of Public Health began collecting this information from schools Jan. 25; the agency said in a statement Friday that it will provide the info on its new school website “in the near future.”

Counties race against time

In many of California’s largest counties, a dwindling clock has heightened the stakes in the complicated race to vaccinate educators. Most of the state’s public schools end the academic term in late May and early June, and full inoculation requires administering two vaccine doses spaced a month apart.

As of Friday, Santa Clara County was not vaccinating educators and health and education officials could not offer a timeline for when primarily because of limited vaccine supply, they said. Neighboring San Mateo County remains in Phase 1A and is prioritizing “those eligible at greatest risk of death.”

Other large counties such as San Diego, San Joaquin and Kern are not yet vaccinating educators, citing vaccine scarcity. Counties such as Marin and Napa, where many campuses have reopened, began vaccinating some of their educators last month. Several smaller, rural counties have made greater progress vaccinating their teachers compared with larger counties.  Humboldt County is providing vaccinations to educators.

Sacramento County officials expect that, depending on supply, teachers will be able to sign up for vaccination appointments “in the next couple of weeks.”

Robert Levin, Ventura County’s health director, said he expects the vaccine will be available to teachers “in a month.” Meanwhile, Shasta County, where all but two schools are offering in-person instruction, plans to host its first educator vaccine clinic Saturday. Placer County recently opened its clinic for educators.

Joe Prado, Fresno County’s public health division manager, said the county is “looking at late March to April” as the earliest vaccines would be offered to educators based on current supply and demand.

The delay between doses would put in-person instruction beginning in April or May in that case. Prado said the limited week-to-week vaccine supply allocated to the county has made it “really difficult” to devise a quicker rollout to those eligible under Phase 1B.

Several Fresno County districts, including Clovis Unified, began offering in-person instruction last fall before the latest surge. This week, as case rates in the county fell below 25 positive cases per 100,000 residents, closed campuses will be allowed again to reopen for elementary students, according to Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer.

“Our experience in Fresno County is that whenever all of those different layers of protection are implemented that the numbers of transmissions and outbreaks are really low, especially compared to what’s going on in the rest of our community,” Vohra said.

In Orange County, a spokesperson for the county education department said educators could become eligible for the vaccine in mid to late February, “assuming doses are available.”

The county plans to roll out teacher vaccinations based on risk of exposure, meaning teachers working closely in person with special-needs children would be ahead of educators working remotely.

Alameda County, which entered Phase 1B this week, also plans to prioritize vaccinating educators teaching in person, according to county superintendent L.K. Monroe. About 325,000 residents are eligible under Phase 1B, according to county estimates, requiring 650,000 vaccine doses and at least a month’s time to complete vaccinations before moving down the state’s tiered system.

“If every educator came all at once to be vaccinated, it wouldn’t be possible under the current conditions,” Monroe said.

Alameda Unified, among the first districts in the county to set a reopening date, plans to bring back K-5 students March 8 without vaccinating teachers.

Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi at a recent board meeting cited public-health guidance and recent remarks from the director for the Centers for Disease Control as evidence “that elementary schools can safely be reopened prior to full vaccination.”

The county told superintendents that it expected to receive between 10,000 to 15,000 vaccine doses per week, Scuderi said, far below demand. Because the district has set a firm return date, its teachers would likely be prioritized for vaccination.

Following mounting parent frustrations and a lawsuit from the city’s district attorney supported by the mayor, San Francisco Unified reached a tentative deal with its employee unions over the weekend that tie vaccine access to reopening.

Under the plan, the school would phase in a return to campuses if the city reaches the red tier under the state’s system for reopening schools and businesses — meaning, less than 7 positive cases per 100,000 residents — if teachers and staff receive access to the vaccine.

Schools in San Francisco would physically reopen in the orange tier without the vaccination requirements under the plan. Jeanne Noble, director of COVID response for UC San Francisco’s emergency department, said it’s unlikely the deal would result in students returning to campuses anytime soon.

Realistically, Noble said, it could take “a minimum of 10 weeks” to vaccinate all of the city’s teachers given current supply. Noble and other health professionals have called for schools to reopen this month without vaccination.

Schools can safely operate with strict safety measures, she said, and 11 months away from schools has resulted in dire harm to students’ mental and physical well-being.

“It’s not a proposal or an agreement that would lead to in-person education this year just because of the scarcity of the vaccines and the logistics in rolling it out,” Noble said. “I think it makes it potentially more likely that they would go back to school when San Francisco’s back in the orange tier.”

Barbara Feder Ostrov contributed to this story. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
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Thursday, January 28, 2021

'Staff Challenges' Amid Quarantines Has Fortuna High School District Classes Going Virtual

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2021 at 2:59 PM

Fortuna Union High School District campuses, including Fortuna High School, East High School and Academy of the Redwoods, will switch to distance learning starting tomorrow and running through Feb. 5 due to what the district described as “staff challenges” due to quarantines.

“All classes will meet virtually at regularly scheduled time,” the post states. “There have been zero cases of school transmission.”

Toddy Thomas Middle School moved to distance learning earlier this week after "one or more students" tested positive for COVID-19, some students were exhibiting symptoms and multiple students "may have been exposed." (Read more here.)

The district notes that food services will continue to be available and deliveries will be made to bus stops for students who live outside of Fortuna. Families of students who live in the city can pick up meals at school cafeterias.

Please see below announcement from Superintendent Senestraro: Due to staffing challenges because of those asked to...

Posted by Fortuna Union High School District on Thursday, January 28, 2021
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McKinleyville High School Acknowledges Racism, Vows to Make Changes

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2021 at 11:40 AM

In a letter sent to the McKinleyville High School community, Principal Nic Collart and the school’s administration acknowledged the racism students of color faced and vowed to make the school a more inclusive and safe space for them.

The letter comes from the school’s Race and Equity Committee, which was formed after an Aug. 18 Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) listening session organized by current and former BIPOC students and their families and facilitated by the Eureka NAACP. The committee includes students, staff and community members who are “committed to making changes in the areas identified through the listening session.”

“Our school mission states, ‘McKinleyville High School fosters an inclusive community where all individuals can excel both personally and academically by empowering learners with meaningful skills in a safe and supportive environment.’ We have not upheld this promise for all of our students,” Collart wrote in the letter. “While we cannot change the past, we are dedicated to creating a school that honors and supports all our students from this day forward. We acknowledge harm in the hopes it will help our community heal.”

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Toddy Thomas Middle School Moves to Online Instruction After Students Test Positive for COVID-19

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 5:22 PM

In a Facebook post, Fortuna's Toddy Thomas Middle School Principal Mat Bigham announced the school would move to distance learning as soon as tomorrow after "one or more students" tested positive for COVID-19 and multiple students "may have been exposed."

According to the post, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders were exposed, and several fifth graders are currently showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The school was offering in-person classes but will now move to online instruction until Feb. 8.

If you are feeling any symptoms or have been exposed contact your doctor’s office or the county Department of Health and Human Services, which has a hotline that can be reached during business hours at 441-5000.

Basics of COVID-19

The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, state that symptoms of novel coronavirus include cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or a new loss of taste or smell.

Emergency warning signs needing immediate medical attention include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to awaken, and bluish lips or face.

In an emergency situation:

Call ahead to the emergency room or inform the 911 operator of the possibility of a COVID-19 infection and, if possible, put on a face mask.

Symptoms or possible exposure:

In the case of a possible exposure with symptoms — fever and cough or shortness of breath — contact your doctor’s office or the county Department of Health and Human Services, which has a hotline that can be reached during business hours at or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at or at (707) 445-6200.

St. Joseph Health has also set up a virtual assessment tool as an aid to assessing risk factors for contracting the illness, which can be found here.

Read the full Facebook post below.

Hello. This is Mat Bigham, principal at Toddy Thomas Middle School. We’re calling to let you know that one or more of...

Posted by Toddy Thomas Middle School on Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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