Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

San Diego Off State Watch List, Another Countdown Begins, CSUs Will Require Ethnics Studies, Virtual School Discipline And La Jolla Music Society Summer Fest

 August 19, 2020 at 12:52 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The governor updates on COVID-19 flex alerts and wildfires, Speaker 2: 00:05 Putting everything we have on these fires, they're stretched all across the state of California. Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Alison st. John. This is KPBS midday edition, Will conservation be enough to avoid energy blackouts in our future, the power Speaker 2: 00:29 Their supply was going to be tight this year, particularly if we get into a heat wave situation, like the one we're enduring now, ethnics Speaker 1: 00:39 Bodies is now a mandatory course at California state universities and Summerfest re-imagined continues a classical music tradition in LA Jolla. That's ahead on mid day edition Speaker 1: 01:01 Facing the triple threat of a statewide heat wave, 23 major wildfires and the ongoing COVID pandemic. Governor Newsome used today's update to address all those challenges. Another flex alert will be in place from two to 9:00 PM. Today. Residents are urged to reduce energy usage during that time to prevent the need for rolling blackouts. The governor says today may be the last day. This week that energy resources are stretched so thin near some also reported that a total of 367 known fires are burning across the state. 23 of those are characterized as major fires. The worst of those fire complexes burning in San Mateo and Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California, Speaker 2: 01:47 Putting everything we have on these fires, they're stretched all across the state of California. Uh, and we're now getting the support of some of our partners in the Western United States. And for that again, we're very grateful. Speaker 1: 02:03 And in California's pandemic response, the governor acknowledged that San Diego is now off the state's monitoring watch list. He says, it looks likely that San Francisco will be able to get off the watch list tomorrow. Now, San Diego was officially removed Tuesday from that watch list fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents have been recorded in San Diego for more than three consecutive days, which is one of the key metrics to getting off the list. Now, another countdown begins to see if the County can maintain those lower numbers for the next two weeks. If it does, schools may be able to reopen for in-person classes, if adequate safety measures are in place, but when, and if businesses and other indoor activities might be able to open up again is still up in the air. Joining me is KPBS health reporter Taran mento, Taren. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much, Marine, there seems to a lot of confusion about being on the watch list off the watch list. Could you give us some brief background about this watch list and how San Diego got on it in the first place? Speaker 3: 03:09 Right? So the state tracks, uh, metrics, and if you go above the, you know, a threshold that they set for some of those metrics and you get placed on the watch list. And so the metric we crossed was new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents. So that state wants us to keep that at 100 per 100,000 or below, we went above that early July. We got placed on this watch list when you get placed on a watch list that triggers some additional restrictions. So a lot of businesses were not allowed to operate indoors. Um, and then later the governor added more businesses to that list, but since we've had our case rate come down, um, we dipped below it and then we held there for three days. And that's what got us off the watch list. Speaker 1: 03:54 And Diego, one of the few counties that have been able to get off the watch list, Speaker 3: 03:57 Correct? We are the second, uh, County to get off of the watch list. Santa Cruz County was the first they got off the watch list on Friday, as you mentioned, we got off the watch list yesterday. However, the County had been reporting that our case rate was below the threshold, um, and met the criteria last Friday. But because of that reporting backlog that we heard at the state level, the state reviewed our calculations and found some backlog positives that we weren't able to account for because we didn't know about them yet. And then put those into the calculation and told us that, you know, our case rate wasn't at the levels that we thought until finally this week, just yesterday Speaker 1: 04:39 During this 14 day waiting period that I mentioned in the opening remarks, the rate per 100,000 goes up, do we go back on the watch list? Speaker 3: 04:49 So you have to be above the threshold above that metric for three consecutive days to get on the watch list. So, um, we don't know if rules will change for counties that were previously off the watch list. Maybe it's only one day or two days. We don't know what's going to happen. So we're still operating under the assumption that it's going to be the same criteria as it was before. So if we cross over the cases per 100,000 threshold for three consecutive days, and that should land us back on the watch list, but we'll be watching closely from what the state puts out in terms of reopening guidelines, to see if there's any more information in there that would apply to counties that have previously been on a watch list. Speaker 1: 05:28 Now, after this 14 day waiting period in theory, schools could reopen, but I believe school districts don't have to reopen for in person classes, even if the state gives the okay, isn't that right? Speaker 3: 05:41 Correct. They just have the ability to make the decision. According to the state. Now each individual district would be looking at their own whatever metrics they would like to use to determine if they should reopen San Diego unified specifically said, you know, one, those would be looking at the amount of community outbreaks reported in the last week. That's something that the County tracks to determine if it wants to implement any restrictions. And so San Diego unified is saying, yes, we've met the state's criteria, but now we're going to look at what the county's criteria would be. And we're going to adopt some of those metrics to dictate what we do. What about other indoor activities like businesses, churches, restaurants, what does getting off the watch list mean for those reopenings? That is something that all of the operators of those establishments would like to know. Speaker 3: 06:29 Essentially we should be getting it should mean that they can reopen and reconduct indoor operations. The state still has to provide that guidance. They provided guidance early on when we first reopened, but that guidance does not apply after this kind of second round of indoor operation closure. So we're still waiting for the state to provide that to us, even though we've been getting good news about the counties metrics, hundreds of people a day are still testing positive, and the death count continues to go up. Can you give us an idea about yesterday's figures 200, two more people tested positive? And that brings us up to more than 35,000 cases overall in the County, but two Oh two is on the lower end of daily case counts that we've seen reported, um, late, you know, late July. So things are improving, but overall hospitalizations, which is a key indicator. Speaker 3: 07:25 Those are also going down. So we see that people are not getting so severely sick, that they need to go to the hospital, which is a good indication that it's not impacting this coronavirus doesn't have as great of a spread or impact in the County. So that's a positive sign. Um, but you know, we had more people, seven additional people reported who died in the County yesterday. Our County officials concerned about reopening too soon. Yes. You know, we've heard supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who said, the last thing we want to see is this reopening then shut down this kind of Seesaw effect. And also dr. Wilma Lou in our County public health officer, she indicated as well, they don't want to continue with this back and forth. They want to implement a reopening plan that keeps us off the watch list keeps case counts low and really monitors and contains the spread of this virus. So that's why we're really looking forward to some specifics from the County. Once we get off the watch list, certain restrictions have been lifted lifted. Once we get the guidance from the state, what's going to happen with how the County moves forward to further ensure that we stay within these metrics. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Taran, mento, and Taran. Thank you. Thank you. Speaker 4: 08:40 This week's heat wave has forced Californians to take a closer look at its energy supplies and policymakers are scrambling to determine what really caused the blackouts last weekend and what needs to happen to avoid them in the future. Will we solve it with more conservation or will the energy supply system change KPBS environment report to Eric? Anderson's been following the changes in our energy use for years, and he joins us now welcome Eric Alison. So there seems to be some disagreement over what actually caused the energy shortfall and the coal for blackouts. You know, is it, is it the move to more sustainable energy sources like sun and wind, or is it not? Speaker 5: 09:17 Well, I think that question remains open for review. And unfortunately we can't look at the information, uh, that the independent system operator has and had to make use to make that decision because that information is not public. Uh, the agency that runs the California power grid is a private, not for profit agency. Uh, and so they don't have to, um, kind of reveal or, or are let everybody else know what it is they're looking at when they make these power supply issues. But we do know, and they have said publicly earlier this year that, uh, the power supply was going to be tight this year. Particularly if we get into a heat wave situation, like the one we're enduring. Now I talked to Severen Borenstein yesterday. He works with UC Berkeley, and he's also on the board of the California independent system operator. And he said there was no mystery that the power supplies were going to be tight. The KSL puts out regular reports on how the state is doing in terms of capacity, uh, uh, acquisition. And in fact, in January, the Keiser put out its summer assessment, which said that summer 2020 could be very tight, uh, depending on how bad the weather is. And I think we've seen that because that's what happened this past weekend. And that's why we returned to rolling blackouts were really the first time since 2001. Speaker 4: 10:43 Well, if this is going to continue, what are some of the options facing California for resolving the power shortages at peak times? Speaker 5: 10:51 Um, that's a very good question. I think that the thing that the state has to do, or the people that manage the power grid have to do is, uh, is to maintain, uh, these, uh, steady power supply sources that they have. And, um, you know, the California independent system operator, uh, it doesn't buy the electricity. It doesn't go out and secure contracts with electricity. It sort of manages, it's like a traffic cop, if you will, the utilities themselves, and any agency responsible for bringing power to customers, um, has a responsibility to not only get 100% of the expected peak for any particular day or a period of time, but they're also required to have another 15% of power reserves available. And that seems to be where the problem occurred. Uh, although I said earlier that we can't really look at the ISO books to find out exactly, but that seems to be where the power, uh, problem came from is that, uh, that those reserves, which are utilities are required to buy, uh, just weren't there when they were needed. And that's why we went to this rolling blackouts issue. Speaker 4: 11:56 So you were saying it's to do with the reserves. So what about people calling for a return to natural gas or nuclear, um, you know, give up our policy of moving away from fossil fuels? Speaker 5: 12:07 Sure. Um, that's a, you hear that from, uh, different, uh, parts of the energy marketplace as well. Uh, the advantage of those sources of course, is the fact that they're not reliant on the sun or the wind. Uh, they can run 24 hours a day and it becomes a stable baseline source of energy. Uh, there are some issues with renewables, solar doesn't work very well at night. Uh, we don't have great, uh, energy production from wind when it's not windy. Uh, one of the bridges that some of the power managers look at when they look at that situation is that, uh, they use batteries to store the energy and then use it at a later time. But, you know, there's an expense associated with that. It's a question of how that mix is going to be made. And I think the big concern now is when big, uh, uh, inline energy producers, like for example, the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, uh, when they go offline in a couple of years, um, how does the state move to replace that steady, um, solid supply of energy that they provided to the grid? Speaker 4: 13:14 And finally, what's your sense? Will this crisis situation keep happening? Is it the start of a whole new way of life? Well, we're all tuning into the energy situation, much more on getting ready to conserve at the drop of a hat. Speaker 5: 13:26 Well, the California independent system operator, when they gave their forecasts at the beginning of this year, back in January, they said energy was going to be tight. A major heat wave could be an issue. This major regional heat wave was an issue, and they looked ahead to next year as well. And they said that a power supply is going to be even tighter next year. Uh, so this could be a coping strategy. Uh, the only caveat I would add to that is that, uh, you know, the governor is asking to look into this situation. Uh, there are critics of the way the power system is run in California who have called for changing the way things are done, uh, perhaps taking that decision making out of the independent system operators hands. So how those situations, uh, around this power supply issue, uh, shake out, we'll have, uh, some to do with what actually happens next year as well. Speaker 4: 14:18 Well, Eric, thanks so much for your reporting. My pleasure that's KPBS environment, reporter Eric Anderson, Speaker 5: 14:36 [inaudible], Speaker 4: 14:39 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen Kavanaugh this week, the governor signed a new law that requires all students in the California state university system to take an studies course in order to graduate. The bill is the culmination of decades of work by its author, Shirley Webber, and is especially relevant in today's world of Kohl's to end systemic racism. Dr. Weber is one of San Diego's representatives in the state assembly, and she is chair of the California legislative black caucus. Thank you so much for joining us, dr. Webber. Speaker 6: 15:12 Well, thanks for having me here. I really appreciate it. Speaker 4: 15:14 So you actually taught Africana studies and ethnic studies discipline at San Diego state university for several decades. Is that right? Speaker 6: 15:22 Inspired this piece of legislation? You know, I I'm sure it did. Uh, I was not only just teaching me. I was actually, uh, the founder of the department and, um, and they're in its inception. So I came to really understand just how powerful it is when people learn about themselves. Uh, because I wasn't raised in an environment that taught me a lot about African American history, and I began to understand the power that it has to change people's lives. I've seen it in my students that only black students, white students, Latino students, they have, they have increased their appreciation for the culture of California and its world. And actually not better. I think better, uh, professionals as a result of having taken courses about other people. And, and that's what we want in California, a workforce and a population that is responsible and respective of the diversity of California, Speaker 4: 16:09 You know, give us a sense of what an ethnic studies course focuses on. Speaker 6: 16:12 Well, the ethnic studies force course focuses on that particular ethnic group. That's being studied rather than seeing them as an agenda to American history. They are American history and they are California's history. So we've focused on the fact that the four major groups, which are African Americans, Latinos, uh, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and native Americans, other really the four major groups that really impact it and continue to impact California's history and the nation's history. Uh, each one of the departments has multiple courses that they could offer. And that's up to them to decide there'll be history, literature, sociology, music, uh, cultural courses. There may even be blended courses at some campus have done with it. All four of those groups are represented and maybe filtered through a lens of music or literature or something of that nature. But we left it up to the campuses, cause believe it or not, 22 out of our 23 campuses already have ethnic studies courses on the books and are teaching them right now. The question is the requirement for students to take. Speaker 4: 17:11 Now earlier this summer, the Cal state university system actually came up with his own program, embracing ethnic studies. How does your bill differ from what the CSU board approved? Speaker 6: 17:20 Well, you know, the CSU board rapidly and quickly approved something without much faculty input and ours had lots of faculty input. And, but what it did, it says basically that, that you don't have to really take ethnic studies. It is one of many that you can take. And they've said that or something dealing with social justice, which is really anything offered at the university and it could be anything around the world. And so what our goal was to try to equip students with a better knowledge of those of American history and those groups and their participation in that, that requirement doesn't do that. And in fact, the students could graduate with never having taken one course in ethnic studies. Based on that recommendation, we already have recommendations like that at most campuses that call diversity requirements. And oftentimes students could take courses on Italian food and never actually deal with the critical issues facing California. So we rejected that proposal because it did not answer the questions that we thought should be answered and not fulfill the need that we think California needs. Speaker 4: 18:18 One of the reasons the CSU opposed to a bill was that they said, quote, that it would set a dangerous precedent for legislative interference with the academic curriculum. So I guess the question is, you know, why should the legislature interfere with the curriculum? Isn't that the a union? Speaker 6: 18:34 Well, you know, we haven't really interfered with the curriculum. We have not stopped the curriculum. We have not redefined every course, as students have to take the legislature while it gives authority to the region, um, to the trustees, it also has a responsibility to also report to respond to the educational needs, not just in funding schools, but really the focus. And we've done that before, and there's never been an outcry. We've had issues about graduation rates and, and those kinds of things that we think we'll fund are not fun with regards to graduation rates and what schools should be doing with regards to accountability. So there have been a number of things that have come down from the legislature related to CSU, even when I was a faculty member there. But we also recognize that when a committee or a group, such as this has been working and working and working to, to achieve a goal and the chancellor himself in his own blue ribbon committee said that this, that three units of excellent studies shouldn't be required. And then to drag their feet over and over to not engage in a conversation and dialogue, and then make a proposal that is really already a proposal that most of the campuses do. And at the 12th hour, uh, it's disingenuous. And, and as I said, and therefore, an effort to try to offer skate the matter and make people believe that this is really an ethnic studies requirement. It was not well Speaker 4: 19:47 Right now, as the nation is grappling with these issues of race, talk about how valuable you think this course could be. Speaker 6: 19:54 You know, I hope it will be very valuable. I'm looking at, I'm looking over at newspapers when I wasn't here. If the incidents that are occurring in East County and in other places like that, where there has just been, we would think at this point in time that that the racial divide and the racial hatred would be at least lowered, uh, at some point, but it seems to be rising up again. And it really comes out of a people's everybody's lack of understanding and respect of the history of those who live here, that they have made contributions and they continue to make contributions and that we have to embrace the diversity that's here. Otherwise it will surely, surely, uh, wreak havoc on all of our lives. And so, as we, I look at the challenges we're facing in this nation, this will be important. This will be critical. Speaker 6: 20:38 Uh, California is the largest state in the union, the fifth economy in the world and the most diverse state. And if we can't do this, who can't, and that will be, it will play a major part, I hope, and, and helping us understand each other. Uh, we thought the integration schools would do it in that kind of what in Wayne and up and down. Uh, and we do see some better outcomes as a result of that, but we have to really continue to grapple with this issue and education of broad education that really engages students in that conversation is paramount. And when you talk to young people, who've been in ethnic studies, whether there's the subjects about them with someone else, it truly enhances their life. And it's a subject matter that students are extremely interested in. Speaker 1: 21:20 And when will this start? When will ethnic studies be required for CSU? Speaker 6: 21:24 Well, the, the requirements starts immediately. Any student who's enrolling in, uh, in the CSU this fall will be required. The first graduating class, I think is 20, 23, 24. And of those, we give students four years to get the requirement done. As we do it, we put it into their, their, um, their packet of courses to take. And, uh, and they can take it in any time, but they must take it by the time they graduate. So the evaluation of whether or not you've actually completed the requirements that go out for graduation, I believe it's in the 21, 23, 24 graduation year Speaker 1: 21:56 With San Diego assembly woman, Shirley Weber. Thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 6: 22:00 Thank you for the opportunity. And you all have a wonderful day Speaker 1: 22:07 In the COVID era. Classrooms might be virtual, but disruptive student behaviors are still very real. And so are there consequences, KPBS education reporter Joe Hong spoke to administrators about how distance learning impacts school discipline Speaker 7: 22:24 Earlier this month on the first day of the new school year in the Sweetwater union high school district, a student brandished, a firearm during a virtual class session, the police were called and officers arrived at the student's residence to find that the weapon was a BB gun. And no one was harmed later in the week, the district, which was the first in the County to start the fall semester received reports of students sharing pornographic images during online classes, these disruptive behaviors add yet another layer to the challenges facing teachers and administrators as they restart school in the covert era, Manny Rubio's the spokesman for the Sweetwater union high school district. He said, the expectations for student behavior are the same as they were before the Pendo. Speaker 6: 23:02 If you were in a classroom, it's, you know, respecting your classmates, your fellow classmates, respecting the teacher, that's in, that's in front of you giving the lesson, I'm asking questions that are thoughtful and very, you know, that are appropriate for the class. Um, it's making sure that you're prepared. It's making sure that, um, you know, when you're offline, you're also conducting yourself in a way that's respectful and proper Speaker 7: 23:24 Leaders across the County know that this is a new reality for students. And while rules for behavior stayed the same, their learning environments are completely different. Jamie de Hoff is the director of attendance and discipline at power unified. He said the new setting can lead to changes in student behavior. Speaker 6: 23:39 This is a new environment for students. Um, the rules are not established. Speaker 7: 23:46 You know, we make some assumptions that kids know that, you know, when you're in your bedroom doing this stuff that you're held to the same levels of conduct that you would be if you're sitting in a classroom and I don't think we can make those assumptions, the state education code requires suspensions and even expulsions for certain offenses and de Hoff and other school officials made it clear that students will still be punished for disrupting online classes, but they also knowledge they'll have to take extra steps to make sure the punishments don't further exacerbate. The problem schools have connecting with their students. Rubio said is having counselors reach out to students and parents to better understand negative behaviors. And so what we want to understand is is this just a case of, you know, a kid trying to make a disruption just for the sake of it, just for the, you know, for the sake of doing it, or is there something behind that? Speaker 7: 24:36 And so we really want to know, get to that root cause of what's going on. School. Officials are also quick to say that they're are still working to emphasize restorative justice and other alternatives to punitive discipline in part to eliminate the disproportionate impact on students of color students with disabilities and low income students. But advocates worry that when physical campuses reopened districts will revert to overly punitive practices in the potentially dangerous learning environment created by the pandemic. Daniel Lawson is the director of the center for civil rights remedies at UCLA. He's concerned for example, that a shoving match between students or a confrontation with a teacher where student violates social distancing could lead to harsher penalties due to the public health risks involved with physical contact. And I worry that when we reopened schools, that teachers, again may, may with increasingly increasing frequency view situations that normally they might handle as dangerous situations. Speaker 7: 25:32 And so one response might be that schools, teachers and administrators will call police more often than before because now every small incident could have a danger component to it that didn't exist before they have said planning and communication will be key to avoiding such scenarios. It's like you're in school and we want you to be relaxed and be able to learn. But you know, you can't be disrupting you can't, there are certain things you just cannot do and you're held. And I think the more specific we can get with students on scenarios and things that occur and that that's the better Joe Hong K PBS news, Speaker 1: 26:18 Joining me is KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Welcome. Thanks for having me the incident that you start your report with a student brandishing, a weapon, which turned out to be a BB gun. How would that student be disciplined if he did that in an in person classroom and was disciplined for the virtual classroom incident, any different, Speaker 7: 26:41 Right. Yeah. Uh, in, in this case, uh, the, when the students showed the gun in the virtual classroom, the teacher reported it to administration who then reported the incident to police. And I think if this was in an in-person classroom, maybe, um, the, the teacher could have recognized that it was a BB gun and the police maybe wouldn't need to get involved. Um, but even so, you know, according to California education code, this could result in suspension or expulsion. Um, if, if the gun had been, uh, been a real firearm, it definitely would've resulted in suspension or suspension or expulsion, but the rules are a little more laxed for, for a BB gun. Speaker 1: 27:26 Now, is it technically possible for kids to get away with more bad behavior when they are online, then when they're in the classroom? Speaker 7: 27:36 Um, that's hard. That's hard to say. I mean, theoretically, yes. Just because there is less sort of monitoring by the teachers and there's less of sort of that in person relationship. So I think educators are sort of concerned that there's just sort of less a sense of accountability from students because they're not being washed all the time. Speaker 1: 27:58 Lots of teachers, you know, develop classroom instincts, almost like having eyes in the back of their heads to sense when students are doing something they shouldn't. Is it more difficult for teachers now to use those instincts? Speaker 7: 28:12 Oh, definitely. And I think teachers are, they're not just worried about being able to catch bad behavior. They're, they're worried about not being able to develop a relationship with their students. And so at the end of the day school discipline, how schools think about it now is more about student wellbeing. Are these behaviors a sign of something else going at home? And is there, is this something that a more meaningful relationship with an educator to resolve? Speaker 1: 28:39 Yeah. Tell us more about the counseling outreach that Sweetwater is starting. That's in an effort to try to figure out what's behind some kid's disruptive online behavior. Speaker 7: 28:49 Yeah. So it's making sure that kids, when they're at home, they have the supports that they need and making sure that's when students are logged in that they're focused. And if there's anything in there in their home environments that are preventing that then, uh, those counselors and administrators are, are working to address those issues. Speaker 1: 29:11 What role do teachers expect parents or caregivers to play in maintaining student discipline when kids are learning online at home? Speaker 7: 29:20 I think teachers are hoping that parents sort of take some responsibility and are kind of filling in for the teacher and making sure their students are doing the work they're paying attention to live class sessions when they're going on and just making sure yeah. That students are focused. So I think teachers don't want their kids to logging into class and their Gemma's from there, from the bed. Ideally teachers would want parents to maybe have a sort of a setup that has some semblance to like a classroom or, um, oral work environment. And you mentioned, Speaker 3: 29:56 And the very successful alternative discipline programs like restorative justice will be continued during virtual classroom settings. How will they be doing that? Speaker 7: 30:07 Yeah. So a lot of that is just what you've been talking about already. Um, making sure that counselors are in touch with students that might be struggling and the, in the virtual classroom setting. Um, and this it's a really holistic sort of approach to student wellbeing where the teacher might notice that a student is really isn't really engaged in class. And, um, you know, that might be again, a sign that something is going on at home, or they're having some challenges outside the virtual classroom. And at that point, a counselor or, uh, or, uh, an administrator would reach out to that student and the parents. So it's really about enhanced communication. This time. Speaker 3: 30:48 I have been speaking with KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong and Joe. Thank you. Speaker 7: 30:53 Thank you. Speaker 4: 30:58 Fast moving wildfires are burning right now in Northern California, forcing people to flee their homes. KQBD has been investigating the risk that wildfires pose to medically frail Californians who live in skilled nursing facilities. They found that a quarter of nursing homes are in parts of the state at heightened risk for wildfire. Many of those homes were ill prepared for the Corona virus and are not ready for yet another looming disaster. At the same time, KQBD science reporter, Molly Peterson continues our series older and overlooked by examining the regulations that are supposed to protect these patients. Speaker 3: 31:32 Last October, a brush fire was fast coming toward the nursing home, where Bob Hannah's wife lives Speaker 4: 31:38 And the smoke and the wind was blowing really bad. Speaker 3: 31:41 Crystal Ridge care center is a top of Hill in rural grass Valley staffers. We're bringing patients to the parking lot. And Bob started to wonder how they were going to get everyone out Speaker 4: 31:51 Because they had one van that was, you know, they might've gotten a few people in, but not enough to take care of everybody that was out in the parking Speaker 3: 31:58 In a wildfire. The first plan at crystal Ridge is to shelter in place. If that isn't safe, staff would shuttle residents to assist her facility nearby. They asked visitors like Bob to leave. And as he did, he thought of his wife, Laura Lee, Speaker 4: 32:12 And make sure that she was out, you know, no problem. Speaker 3: 32:15 Bob is 80, still plays softball. Laura Lee can't walk independently. She's got ms. Before the pandemic, Bob would pick her up for day trips. Well, I have a van that has a ramp on it. So he turned back to pitching as more brush caught, flame crews put that fire out quickly. Federal regulations now demand that skilled nursing facilities prepare and practice for hazards. Exactly like this one, wildfires hurricanes, and yes, pandemics part of why is climate change? Water flooded into st. Rita's nursing home, outside new Orleans drowning 35 residents after hurricane Katrina in 2005, federal watchdogs recommended better emergency preparedness rules like identifying hazards. A nursing home might face training, knowing who to call for help and telling families about the plan. Katrina was a wake up call for all of us. Industry trade groups fought to weaken and delay those regulations. It was 12 years before they took effect. Meanwhile, natural disasters became more common over and over. Gulf coast storms have left wheelchairs piled up caked with mud after flooding. After the campfire in 2018 Bay area, paramedic Jimmy Pearson remembers a similar scene outside of paradise care, home Speaker 8: 33:30 Seven or eight, just empty wheelchairs in the driveway. So you knew what happened. There was, it was grabbed, go grab, go grab, go, Speaker 3: 33:37 California has over 1200 skilled nursing facilities. Only Texas is even close. The state department of public health oversees these nursing homes and inspects them using federal and state standards. KQBD investigated how ready they are for disasters. We found that over a two year period, 78% of these homes got caught violating regulations for emergency preparedness, big deal. You submit a plan of correction, and that's just about it. Pat McGuinness directs the watchdog group, California advocates for nursing home reform. That's a problem because it's very seldom corrected. It repeats and repeats and repeats. And we see it every year and we see it with the same facilities. KQBD also looked at the severity of the violations. Just 6% of the time, evaluators consider deficiencies bad enough to require a followup visit in person. It says, if you're missing an emergency plan, that's not even labeled an actual harm. Speaker 3: 34:30 We really need to have an oversight agency that gets out there tries to find problems in advance of the tragedies. You know, how serious is this? How many residents could potentially be affected by this and how severe is this violation? And of course we don't do that. Last fall. Federal auditors criticized California for its oversight of emergency preparedness at nursing homes. They said the state should offer more training and inspectors should visit facilities more often, the California department of public health rejected those recommendations saying it doesn't have enough staff or resources. CDPH denied our request for a taped interview and did not respond to written questions. Speaker 8: 35:11 You pick the good day to come out. Good morning. How are you, sir? Okay. You okay. Speaker 3: 35:18 In February I met Ray Bowen at the sequoias in Portola Valley. It's part of a small group of care homes. Bowen is the director of facilities and a former fireman Boto and says, it's rare to get through inspections with zero problems, but being without a comprehensive emergency plan. Yeah, I think that that's pretty serious. Speaker 9: 35:38 If you don't have any emergency plan, I don't really understand how you could even get licensed. Speaker 3: 35:42 Being prepared is a huge capital investment. He says, especially now Bowen's plan is so big. It has cheat sheets and color. Speaker 9: 35:51 For example, you know, we have code silver for active shooter, code yellow for bomb, threat code pink missing resident, which is always an issue. They're going to have code beige, which is for mountain lion. Speaker 3: 36:02 Pandemic is in there too. He says the three facilities he oversees have been in an emergency for months. They use the same management style police and firefighters do one commander with clear responsibilities for everyone below, Speaker 9: 36:16 You can see the body language from the staff they're worn out. I mean, this has been an active situation since late February. It's, it's kind of like a war. You know, it doesn't go away. Speaker 3: 36:26 None of his facilities have yet found COVID-19 among patients. I'm still knocking on wood. But if fires come Boto and says, the pandemic will complicate evacuations, smaller groups and force them to be more spread out, it'd be more of a campground style. But Owen says he might have to move residents as much as a hundred miles away from home. Speaker 9: 36:46 I have to worry about air quality. The residents may have a compromised immune system. They may have respiratory issues, cardiac issues. So we've got to get them in a safe zone. Speaker 3: 36:56 The trade group representing most nursing homes in the state, the California association of health care facilities offers training and templates for emergency plans. But the state has suspended routine inspections during the pandemic and critic say state and federal policies do little to encourage preparedness. You need to be able to hit them where it hurts. Pat McGuinness argues the state should levy more fines and even block nursing homes from admitting patients in that's not going to be in their hearts. That's going to be in their wallets violations. Almost never cost a facility money. The California department of public health, rarely issues, fines. When they do facilities can appeal. I think the regulatory structure in nursing homes desperately needs to be changed. That's Mike Wasserman, a gerontologist who used to run a company overseeing 70 nursing homes. Now he leads a reform minded group, California association for longterm care medicine. Speaker 3: 37:51 Wasserman says issuing fines, doesn't touch the actual problem. Nursing home real estate owners are today's slumlords. He argues that owners limit their financial liability with webs of corporations, different companies for property, for operations, for management, that makes fines just a small cost of doing business. You can just ask yourself where that's gonna end up from a quality perspective where that's going to end up. If there's a fire where that's going to end up and we're seeing the results he says, the state should demand more transparency about corporate ownership. Without it, the people who suffer are the patients and their families. COVID-19 outbreaks are overwhelmingly common in California nursing homes, where they're at risk for fire. More than of skilled nursing facilities have reported cases of the virus. They include Randy Odette's 96 year old mother who is recovering from COVID-19. She's just like 80 pounds. Speaker 10: 38:47 And just Speaker 3: 38:49 Felicia, we filter the facility where Betty Odette lives. A story on nursing and rehab center has reported over 140 cases of the Corona virus. 25 people have died. Infection control, infection control. These are all separate complaints. Randy reads a list of active and proven complaints. Since the pandemic began, the facility staffing pressure, sore, Speaker 10: 39:09 Actually controlled practices, not followed Speaker 3: 39:12 That last man. Randy took care of her mom for a decade before finding a story yet on the edge of the San Fernando Valley. Now she lives in an RV parked on a wide street near the same steep hillsides that threatened the facility. She was born and raised here. She knows fire comes without warning. The mountain is dry, Speaker 10: 39:31 Pretty dry up there. But Speaker 3: 39:34 Randy asked the administrator about a story as emergency plan. He's supposed to let her see it. He pointed her to a sign on the wall, like what you'd see at a motel six, showing where the emergency exits are. The state has got to be responsible for these homes. Now she's scared and a little angry. I mean, they can't help themselves the patients. And it's really not up to the staff. Odette believes the staff at a story. I didn't pay attention to COVID-19 until it was too late. She fears the same will be true. When a wildfire comes, nursing homes are obligated to protect their residents from disasters, no matter how frequent they are or how often they overlap right now, we can't really be sure they're all doing that for KQBD news. I'm Molly Peterson in Los Angeles. Speaker 3: 40:28 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Alison st. John each summer for 35 years. Classical musicians from around the world have assembled in LA Jolla for a celebration of chamber music. And despite the pandemic social distancing and closed concert halls, the LA Jolla music society Summerfest will not break that tradition. This year is shortened series of concerts as being billed as Summerfest re-imagined musicians will perform live on stage at the Conrad prep is performing arts center, but their only audience will be online. Joining me to introduce Summerfest re-imagined is the festivals, music director pianist, Ian Barna ton. And in on, welcome back to the show. Thank you. It's great to be back. The festival has gone through several iterations this year before the final version, which streaming audiences will see beginning on Friday. Now, back in may, you were actually going to postpone the summer Fest for a year. Why did you decide to move forward? Well, we kind of decided, I decided to have a two pronged Speaker 11: 41:34 Approach. I postponed the festival as it was originally planned to next year because I thought that a watered down version of something is not what I want to do. And so actually we are doing the festival as it was originally planned next year, but it occurred to me that you can't really water down something for this, but you can create something new. You can certainly tailor the programs and the musicians, everything to this specific situation, which is what we do Speaker 1: 42:04 Well. The festival had originally been planned for 18 concerts and it doesn't musicians. What will this smaller version be? Speaker 11: 42:13 Okay. We had more than 18 musicians coming originally and 18 concerts over three weeks and, and lots and lots of events and, uh, new opera and, uh, resident artists. There was a lot that was going on in the lot that will be going on in 2021. But as this pandemic forced us all to isolate also forced us to find new ways to connect. So I thought that intimacy is really the heart and soul of chamber music. And it's the way that we've been able to connect with each other, you know, whether it's through zoom or whether it's through very limited contact with people and in music, sometimes that's an actual advantage. So I assembled a very mighty group, uh, of apart from myself, six musicians who are coming and are isolating with each other and playing all these incredible pieces that are the ones that I feel are closest to me, kind of chamber music boil to its essence in a way, Speaker 1: 43:12 How will the concerts actually be performed? Speaker 11: 43:15 We are performing them live from the stage here at the Conrad Connor. Previs a performing arts center and this incredible Baker Brown concert hall, which has, uh, one of the best acoustics in the country. And thankfully this, this hall has already because it's brand new, it's just opened last year. Uh, and it has a whole host of very high Def cameras with automatic zooms and tilts. And we have a director that's coming to direct the whole thing and make it look about and sound as best as possibly could. So that you feel when you're watching this from home, that it's about as close as I possibly can get to being in the hall. Speaker 1: 43:57 What performances are on this year, summer Fest program? Speaker 11: 44:00 We have six concerts. The first one starts actually, it's the only prerecorded, uh, been the whole festival because I want it to pay homage to the people that couldn't be with us. All of these musicians that we couldn't invite this year, uh, and positions are struggling. And, and, uh, I wanted to raise awareness for that. And, uh, we start with an amazing piece by Charles Ives called the unanswered question, which is almost a spacial piece with three different groups in the musical landscape, all distanced from each other, both musically and physically. Uh, we have a bed of strings and a very, very beautiful uninterrupted, gorgeous sounding chords. And then a group of wind players who consistently try and challenge them and trumpet, which asks what I've said is a perennial question of existence, which to me was a very, very apropos of what we're going through this a lot of uncertainty. And ultimately these interruptions are not going to derail the beauty of music. So that's, we start with 27 players from around the country and the world who sent in their, their parts. Uh, and we were assembling this, this performance, uh, with the people that are going to be on stage playing where the people that should have been on. Speaker 1: 45:28 And you'll be performing a piece with one of your friends, a cello star. Tell us about that. Speaker 11: 45:34 At least I had wireless Stein and I have been playing together for years for maybe what, 12 years now. Uh, we, we love playing with each other and, uh, I've recorded together. And thankfully her husband is a music director of San Diego symphony. Uh, so she is here in San Diego and, and, and she'll be part of, of this mighty group and we're gonna play a Beethoven Sonata together, and many other things, uh, Mendelssohn trio and, and just a host of great, great, great pieces and James Enis. Uh, one of my favorite violinists in the world is going to be here. Tessa, Lark, incredible violinist from Kentucky and Michael Thurber, wonderful bass player and Clive green Smith is very well known here to pupil a cellist. And you're a Lee as well, filing us and violas all incredible players that I'm thrilled to have with me. And we're going to divide and conquer. We're going to divide into different groups and form a intimate musical community with all these pieces that work. Speaker 1: 46:38 Now, we obviously don't have any sound clips from any of those pieces, but we do have from one of your previous performances with Chellis Elisa Weiler Stein, this is Rachmaninoff's Sonata for G major and for piano and cello Opus 19 Speaker 11: 47:18 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 47:18 In order to see the stream Summerfest concerts, people still have to get tickets. Isn't that right? Speaker 11: 47:25 Yes. First of all, putting in, putting on these constants at level, uh, is not, uh, it's not cheap. We have to invest a lot of money in the, in both an infrastructure and the people and pay the musicians, uh, proper wages. But I also believe that music has value and that these concerts are the best that you can get. Uh, we're, we're charging us a relatively small amount in terms of tickets, uh, uh, it's $15 per ticket, or you can buy the package of all six. And I feel that it's also a way to connect between the musicians and the audience. We were all, uh, making an investment to be there. And I'm thrilled that, uh, we've had such a great response so far with people wanting to hear these concerts. Speaker 1: 48:14 This will undoubtedly be a memorable summer Fest if for no other reason than because of the pandemic precautions, but what would you like the audience to take away from Summerfest? This Speaker 11: 48:26 We're interrupted in so many different ways, but music is always there to connect us and to provide solace and inspiration. And I think we all in this spend them realized the things that we miss most and the things that are most important to us are not always the ones that we think they are. They're not always material things, but rather the things that make us happy to be with ourselves and music is one of those things. So I'm just thrilled to be able to, to both get together with my friends and musicians, make music with each other, but also be able to communicate that to people. Speaker 1: 49:04 Summer Fest begins this Friday. It runs through August 29th, live streamed concerts will air on the LA Jolla music society, YouTube channel. And I've been speaking with Summerfest music director. [inaudible] good luck. Speaker 11: 49:19 Thank you. Thank you so much. Great to be here.

San Diego is now officially off the state’s coronavirus watch list but what that means for local businesses remains to be seen. Plus, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) that requires all students at California State University to take an ethnic studies course to graduate. Also, California’s power grid manager is in the hot seat after calling for the first rolling blackouts since 2001. In addition, as the new school year starts during the pandemic, the question of how to discipline students who are attending classes virtually is a challenge for teachers and administrators. And, many nursing homes are ill prepared for wildfire disasters, we examine the regulations that are supposed to protect residents. Finally, La Jolla Music Society Summer Fest is back — the musicians will be live but the audience will be virtual.