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It’s happening. After nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic started, schools in Ukiah are reopening for hybrid learning. The Superintendent of Schools announced this a couple of weeks ago, then confirmed over the weekend that grades 3 – 6 are starting today. It’s up to parents if their children go in person or continue online learning. The Superintendent says in either case, they’re committed to putting out the best education possible for all children. 7th – 12th graders won’t be able to come back to class until Mendocino County is in the Red Tier. We remain in the Purple, most widespread Tier currently. School administrators are going to start calling parents of those grades soon to see what they prefer, in person or at home. For in person, children must wear a mask, remember to wash hands or use sanitizer frequently, physically distance and parents should continue screening for possible symptoms at home. One other thing, no Parents and Guardians are allowed on campus without an appointment and have to stay inside their cars during drop-off and pick-up.

The Lake County Public Health Office says there are encouraging signs about coronavirus infections. Dr. Gary Pace, who will address the Board of Supervisors tomorrow as they discuss his recent announcement of leaving his job, says there were 88 new infections since the last announcement. Down, he says, from a peak of 292, for the weekly period ending January 3.  The daily case rate is at about 20/100,000. So the county remains in the Purple, widespread Tier. The case rate needs to be down below 7/100,000 to hit the less restrictive Red Tier for two straight weeks before advancing to the less restrictive tier.  Then more business activity could restart including indoor dining. Vaccine doses are trickling in due to severe winter weather last week across the country. By this Friday the county will have no more vaccine does.

A scary report from Ukiah police about a man leering at and following a woman and her two kids at Walmart. The woman called her husband who called police who confirmed the man was a registered sex offender on parole. But they say since nothing criminal happened, only his parole officer was called, and he was released. Police went to the store and talked with the man and interviewed the mom. Police say even though the guy was being “creepy”, they found there was no criminal offense.

Firefighters called out to a fire along with some heard explosions in Redwood Valley. Last night around 7:45 p.m. firefighters reported to what they called the Baker Incident, finding a “fully involved structure” but nobody inside. It was apparently a barn and within a half hour, the fire was controlled. Soon after PG&E came to the scene to cut service to the property. Firefighters remained on the scene for mop up for several hours after.

A rare sight on the Sonoma Coast. A dead pygmy sperm whale had washed ashore over the weekend. These whales normally live deep down in the ocean. The Press Democrat reports this was a nine-foot-long whale that beached Saturday at Salmon Creek, and had no clear signs of trauma, but she was apparently pregnant. The Marine Mammal Center from Sausalito reported to the scene. They say it’s rare because if one dies they don’t usually strand themselves on land and seeing one is very rare. Several scientists descended on the beach to take samples and the whale’s internal organs to study at their marine mammal hospital to see how it died.

The Gov. says yes, the vaccine rollout has been riddled with errors getting it to the Latino and Black communities in California. Gov. Newsom has been traveling to various vaccination sites over the last days. He was last at a mobile vaccination clinic in Inglewood and said they need to “do more and do better” with outreach and set up more sites inside the communities who were hardest hit by the virus. Out of over 7 million doses administered in California, less than 3% have been given to Black residents, more though to Latinos, but still only 16% and only 13% to Asian Americans. White vaccine recipients measured at just under 33%.

The governor has announced the state will hold 10% of first vaccine doses for educators, school staff and childcare providers. Starting next month the vaccine doses will be held for that group so kids can get back to school after almost a year of online learning. The announcement over the weekend after lawmakers announced their own plan, a $6.5 billion proposal to reopen schools. Newsom has remarked it’s not enough money and it’s not quick enough, stating it wouldn’t allow the safe reopening of schools for the youngest kids until the middle of April, which is nearly the end of the school year. He’s hinted he might veto the bill. Lawmakers were planning to discuss the bill starting today.

The Lake County BOS is taking up the resignation of the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace. Last week, Pace announced he’d resign around mid-April, so tomorrow at their regular weekly meeting, they’ll discuss recruiting a new public health officer. Pace had been the interim health officer for a couple months and took the job full time, in October 2019, just before the pandemic hit. The County Administrative Officer’s report to the board says the resignation is official on April 16th and Pace could stay on a bit longer, under contract, during the transition. The board will also consider another extension to the temporary closure of in-person county services until the county gets to the Red Tier on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

A man from Lakeport has been arrested a day after he was released from jail. Lake Co News reports Clearlake and Lakeport police partnered in the arrest of 28 year old Austin Schweitzer last Wednesday for possession of a large amount of suspected meth and being under the influence of narcotics. The next day he was accused of stealing a car left running to get warm in Lakeport. The car also had a bunch of credit cards inside that were taken. The car was left in Clearlake, police say, while he tried using some of those cards, but he didn’t get far. Police were called, the car got back to its owner and Schweitzer was arrested again. He was found with the keys to the car and stolen credit cards and held on credit card theft, car theft and possession of a stolen vehicle and first-degree burglary.

High school football and other outdoor sports can restart. It’s been almost a year since youth sports were allowed. The Calif. Dept. of Public Health made the announcement Friday allowing football, baseball, softball, soccer, water polo and lacrosse and many more. But it’s only allowed in counties that have less than 14/100,000 coronavirus cases for two weeks straight. That’s almost half the 58 counties. Apparently indoor sports is still not allowed. And higher contact sports will have to follow strict new protocols, including a weekly testing program.

It’ll be a busy meeting of the Lake County BOS. Besides considering an extension to no in person county services and recruiting a new public health officer, at tomorrow’s meeting, the board will read a Proclamation, “Promoting Tolerance, Respect, Equity and Inclusion in Lake County.” The Record Bee reports it’s just one of several actions the board intends to take after the murders of both George Floyd and Brianna Taylor in 2020. A local group, A Community Call to Action: A loving response to systemic racism in America (CCA) suggested the move after monthly meetings with various guest speakers. They then gathered ideas for areas of response and learning what other communities across the nation were doing. Part of Lake’s proclamation says each of us can contribute to a “tolerant, respectful, equitable and inclusive Lake County… and showing up, and voicing your support for Tuesday’s Proclamation, is a great way to start.”

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says they’re still looking into a major outbreak of COVID19 at an assisted living facility in Ukiah. Dr. Andy Coren says he’s looking into what strains may have infected residents and staff there after 30 people were infected.  Dr. Coren says the infection spread easily there so he’s concerned it might have been one of the more transmissible variants of the virus that hit Mountain View.  During his regular Friday press call, Coren said 23 residents and 7 seven staffers had tested positive for the virus. Two of the residents had to be hospitalized, and one died early last week. He also said most of the cases were in people vaccinated with their first dose. Coren said the other outbreaks that were recently announced were mostly resolved. Those included the restaurant workers in Fort Bragg, an outbreak in Round Valley, and at the Mendocino County jail, but there are still 2 cases there. There have been almost 3,800 COVID19 cases in the county and 43 deaths.

For over a decade kids that had once gone to elementary schools in the Ukiah Unified School District had to take a bus for a couple hours. The students parents had to pick them up or arrange other transportation too, after the school district closed Hopland and Redwood Valley Elementary Schools in June of 2010. Last month the board approved by wide margins, a new charter school for transitional kindergarten thru 6th graders.  The Shanél (Sanel) Valley Academy Charter School would be located at the old Hopland School site. And they’re accepting applications for both students and teachers. The Daily Journal reports recent data shows more than 120 students go to schools in the Ukiah School District, but they live in Hopland and another 100 go to charter and private schools in Ukiah or in Sonoma County.

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