Border Crossing Delays Affecting Essential Workers, Supervisor Jim Desmond Amplified False Coronavirus Information, Kindergarten From Home And San Diego Film Office Reopens
Speaker 1: 00:00 A border traffic, slowdown falls heavily on essential workers. Speaker 2: 00:04 I get more tired of waiting in line than what I actually work. I've done like about the same five hours at work and five hours in night. Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Maureen Kevin with Mark Sauer. This is KPBS midday edition, A profile of a County supervisor who questions COVID restrictions. Desmond's an election officials. So he has a platform, an audience, most people with these opinions. Don't, we'll hear how classes are going at one of the first San Diego elementary schools to open for in-person learning and the city of San Diego's film office reopens with new COVID guidelines. That's a head on mid day edition. Essential workers are supposed to be able to continue crossing the us Mexico border despite Corona virus precautions. But those workers have encountered a major hurdle in recent days. Last weekend, customs and border protection started to slow border traffic at the San Ysidro port of entry, which led to border weight up to 10 hours. Here's undress Roberto Moreno, who regularly crosses the border on foot. As an essential worker. Speaker 2: 01:28 I get more tired of waiting in line than what I actually work. I've done like about the same five hours at work and five hours in lunch. Speaker 1: 01:36 One 87 year old woman reportedly died of a heart attack while waiting hours at the border crossing while some other drivers simply abandoned their cars to escape the stop to traffic. Joining me with more on the border. Slowdown is KPBS report at Tonya thorn and Tanya. Welcome to the program. Thank you for having me, Maureen. Okay, well, tell us more about what border crossers are encountering during this slowdown. What did you hear? You know, I'm hearing just so many things. People are definitely just showing their frustration, you know, at the border, you see two types of people crossing. You see people on foot and people that are driving and both are just very frustrated. A lot of these people they're essential workers, so they need to cross daily five days a week to get to work. And, you know, people in cars they're having to be stuck in their cars for hours. Speaker 1: 02:25 And I just can't imagine that with this heat that we're having this heat wave and just having to be waiting in your car, there were reports of a car that was in fire. This elderly lady that passed away. I mean, I just can't imagine having to be in your car for that long Andreas who we spoke to outside of the Sandy Seadrill pedestrian border said that he's leading up to five hours at a time. We spoke to a security guard at the border. He's waited up to seven hours just to cross over and do his shift. So, you know, the wait times are just crazy out there. Is there any distinction being made between essential workers and people who aren't, you know, you would think that there would be some sort of a distinction. We spoke to Maria, who is a cleaner at the San Diego airport, a very essential job nowadays, especially at the airport with COVID. Speaker 1: 03:18 And she said, her employer actually gave her a certification letter that deems her an essential worker, but she has never had to present it while crossing. She says that agents haven't really even asked her any further or deeper questions as to why she's crossing. And she says, she thinks, you know, this wait time is due to the lack of agents and the lack of all the, the Gates that are open for people to cross and the agents available to ask questions and help them get across. What does CBP say about why this slowdown is taking place? You know, so CVP conducted a survey of a hundred thousand travelers and they found that 60% of them were not essential. They were traveling, you know, for shopping or to maybe just get out of their house, you know, with this lockdown that we've been having. And so this survey, um, made a new procedure for CVP to screen travelers to see why they're traveling, if they are traveling for essential needs, which means they're going to be asking more questions and possibly sending travelers into secondary inspections. Speaker 1: 04:21 So I did ask CBP about the number of agents working at a time, and they said they could not disclose that information due to being sensitive information out there is this just San Ysidro or are all us Mexico border crossings being slowed down all borders have some restrictions, but mainly because the Southwest borders are the most frequented, the new restrictions have come into place in the San Ysidro, OTT and Calexico borders is the San Diego business community concerned about the long boarder weights. I guess it really depends on that. I said that his supervisor wasn't very sympathetic. And so that employees should really take into account these long wait times. And if they're crossing from Mexico to work in the U S and you know, with unemployment rates being where they are right now, I think supervisors or managers have no problem with firing and rehiring and admitting new personnel into their business. Speaker 1: 05:18 More people are now hoping to use the pedestrian lanes for crossing the border because of the traffic snarl and hours sitting in the cars. But some say that only increases the risk of contracting Corona virus. Why is that? You know, so right now, when we were out there, we saw that one pedestrian opening is close. So Penn West is closed. The only opening where we were at was pet East, which means that the areas where people are able to cross are very limited, meaning that that crossing entrance is going to be very congested because everyone is having to go there. Um, I was looking around Facebook on the groups where people go on there and say, you know, it took me this long to cross. Don't go now go at this time. And people are posting pictures. And a lot of the lines seem very congested. Speaker 1: 06:07 There was no social distance distancing happening. So, I mean, this definitely proves to be a risk for coronavirus right now. And how long is the border traffic slowdown expected to continue restrictions right now at the border are set to expire on September 21st, if they're not extended. But again, this has been a restriction that has been into place already since March with extensions already happening since then. So I guess we just have to wait and see. I mean, if COVID cases begin to drop, maybe the restriction won't be extended, but until then, I think this is going to be an ongoing problem for travelers that are hoping to cross into the U S I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Tanya thorn and Tanya. Thank you. Thank you. Speaker 3: 06:59 San Diego County is now off the state's COVID-19 watch list and awaiting guidelines from the state on when businesses may be able to reopen. But since the start of the pandemic, one County supervisor in particular has been outspoken in support of reopening the local economy. Speaker 2: 07:15 Okay. And only about roughly 5% of the people in San Diego County, when we do the test, 5% of the people have the virus and then the 99.9% of those 99.5% of those are never hospitalized. They either have no symptoms or mild symptoms. So I'm just trying to make sure that, you know, the numbers match the hysteria. And it's not the case right now Speaker 3: 07:40 That was supervisor Jim Desmond on his podcast. Earlier this summer, Desmond represents large parts of North County, a new voice of San Diego story calls him the most high profile COVID-19 skeptic among local office holders. For more on this, we're joined by reporter Katie Steagall with voice of San Diego. Katie, welcome to midday edition. Thanks. Well, you recently wrote this article about a supervisor Desmon. When did his comments on the Corona virus first catch your attention? Speaker 2: 08:08 So the team of voices, San Diego wanted to take a deep dive into the podcast and understand why it was getting so many listeners, but more importantly, what kind of message was actually being put out by a County supervisor outside of the normal supervisor settings. We knew people were tuning in there's over a hundred thousand hits on some videos of the podcast recordings, uh, with his more controversial guests. Yeah. Speaker 3: 08:33 He says, you say giving a platform on his podcast to people who believe the dangers of COVID-19 or are exaggerated. I mean, this is really the point of view there, right? Speaker 2: 08:42 There are a few core beliefs that his guests have been sharing. One, you know, that the data's misconstrued that the economy and schools need to reopen, and the herd immunity is going to be the ultimate savior from the virus. These opinions necessarily new though, right? Most folks we can, we can log into social media platforms and see posts like this, but Desmond's an elected official. So he has a platform and audience, most people at these opinions don't and I do think it's worth noting that Desmond has continued to encourage people to follow basic health protocols, you know, like washing your hands, wearing a mask, even though he's acknowledged people hate it on the podcast and things of that nature, but what's troubling to me and to the editors at voice was, um, that has most of his guests are rarely challenged. So the fact that they aren't being challenged, it, um, it's, they're, they're having these opinions and the way that they're structured with having their, um, their credentials and titles, things like that. They're not experts in the topic of, you know, immunology and the spread of viral diseases. But with the fact that they have doctor in front of their name, or they have these fancy titles, like data expert, things like that, it makes it appear that they have the credibility to be talking on these issues. When in reality, some of the information they're putting out is just blatantly inaccurate, Speaker 3: 10:09 Right? So in an example, a specific example of a guest, a they would call themselves a doctor then, for example. Speaker 2: 10:15 So one of the guests, um, her name was dr. Kelly victory and the YouTube clip of the podcast had over a hundred thousand views. I believe it was 117,000 views. Um, and she's a healthcare consultant from Colorado who specializes in emergency medicine. And she was essentially arguing that the, um, that schools needed to reopen because children aren't, uh, significant spreaders of the virus. And she was saying that children were unlikely to get ill and let alone die. But the, the claims that she was making on the, the episode with Desmond were discredited by multiple outlets, including the union Tribune, they brought in experts that were saying here's, um, here's what the actual evidence is behind some of her claims. So they he's having guests on there. That again are stating things that are just inaccurate, but there's never any pushback on the actual podcast. So it's being perpetuated as something that is accurate when it's not Speaker 3: 11:16 Now, how does supervisor Jim Desmon reconcile the views? He presents on this podcast with the information coming from the county's own public health department, Speaker 2: 11:25 Right? So in that clip, you played earlier, um, he had the, he had the numbers. I believe I put the same quote in my story where we're talking about how, you know, 99.5% of cases are never hospitalized, right? And when you hear it like that, and you hear it coming from a County supervisor, you assume that information to be accurate. Um, however, it did not take me long to go on the County website and break that data that's readily available to the public and see that Desmond's information on that was just flat out wrong. But the way that aside from his own claims, um, he's relatively detached himself from the things that his guests say on the show, because he'll say things like he wants to provide more insight and information for the, for his constituents. So he wants his goal from what he's told me. And what he's told other reporters is he wants to offer a variety of perspectives to the County because he feels like they're not getting the entire message. Speaker 3: 12:26 Some of the message on this, a podcast from the County supervisor is that, that there's hysteria coming from public officials and how our local public affairs officials and members of the board of supervisors are responding to Jim Desmond. Speaker 2: 12:40 The County supervisors are predominantly a con a more conservative crowd aside from Nathan Fletcher, right? Um, I did try reaching out to more than one supervisor. However, I'm the only one that was willing to talk to me was, uh, Nathan Fletcher. So Nathan Fletcher called this a risk to the public health. He acknowledged the fact that it's one it's making the county's job harder to do because they're having an elected official promoting these, you know, quote unquote absurd ideas. But also these, these ideas are typically reserved for people who don't necessarily have the platform that Desmon has. And Fletcher even said that ideas like this are usually relegated to the dark regions of the world, where they thought the moon landing wasn't real and biggie was really alive. And these are the same minds that are now influencing public policy essentially. Speaker 3: 13:36 Well, that's the, uh, the last question I have, and I'm wondering about is your sense of whether Desmond's message and those of his guests is resonating with the public of what kind of impact this might have. Speaker 2: 13:47 District five has a few hundred thousand folks. Um, and with just within that community in general. But, um, I mean, the fact that some of these clips have over a hundred thousand hits on them, that's concerning. Um, you know, obviously not everyone in district five is with Jim Desmond, but the fact that he does have so many thousand constituents and he has this following, I definitely think it's resonating with people on a local and possibly even a national level. When you start looking at how far the spread of Desmond's, the guests, that jet that Desmond is bringing on it, it has a local, possibly national story. Speaker 3: 14:31 I've been speaking with reporter Katie Steagall with voice of San Diego. Thanks very much. Speaker 2: 14:36 Thanks. Speaker 3: 14:49 This is KPBS mid day. I'm Maureen Speaker 4: 14:52 Kavanaugh with Mark Sauer. Kindergarten is supposed to be a magical time for children, but now parents and teachers across the region are staring down the challenge of introducing kids to school without actually having them in a physical classroom. And KPBS reported. Claire triggers tells us that is creating inequity from the very start of kids' school, careers, Maya Ramos, and Kaia. Kawasan spent the morning throwing water balloons at their older brothers, swimming in Kayla's pool, relaxing in the hot tub, and then climbing out to eat fruit and cookies outside. Speaker 5: 15:32 I know definitely better. Speaker 4: 15:36 This is where the new kindergarteners at Benchley Weinberger elementary in the San Carlos neighborhood will have their virtual kindergarten classes, their moms, Nicole Ramos, and Shavasana. Kawasan formed a learning pod together and hired a private tutor to help them follow their online lessons. CogniZen says, in some ways this will be better than if the kids were in normal kindergarten. So maybe this is a way for us to be creative and re-imagine Speaker 5: 16:03 Imagine the whole education process. Um, so I'm excited about that. I feel like that's a rebirth of something. So maybe in all of this, there's something good that's coming out of it. Speaker 4: 16:12 A few miles away in North park. Danielle Hernandez is facing a far different reality. Yeah. And just to not know what's going to happen. She works full time and her daughter, Jasmine will start kindergarten at Jefferson elementary in North park Hernandez. His plan is for her mother to stay with Jasmine and help her do her online lessons. But she's worried that won't work out well. If I, if I can come up with a schedule, she's gonna sit in front of the computer and probably get behind because she does. She's not going to have that support. You know, my mom will be there, but it's not the same thing as having a professional sit next to her and teacher and give her the one Oh one. Even if the computer just goes in a sleep mode, you know, it's, it's hard. Sometimes when somebody that doesn't have that experience, then it's going to cost frustration, stress, Ramos, whose kids are going to be in the pod with a private tutor, says she's keenly aware of the inequity. The pandemic is creating. I think the big challenge that we have in Speaker 5: 17:17 Like, what role do we play in sort of helping solve inequities as people who have, you know, recently Speaker 4: 17:23 Regardless of their status kindergartners and their families will arguably be impacted more than any other grade by online learning this fall, they have little to no experience in a regular school environment, let alone in a virtual space with the distractions of home. It won't be easy for teachers, either Jana Wilson, who has taught kindergarten for most of her 21 year career in Lamesa is planning a daily schedule with a live video call from eight to 9:00 AM, where she'll go over the calendar, read a story and talk about the letter of the day Speaker 6: 17:58 At the beginning. You know, I think we're being very ambitious and thinking that we're going to be on for an hour. It's going to be a very long time. But at the same time, I think our thought process is if we break up that hour in a way that includes some fun songs or activities, or, you know, okay, get up and stretch and jump around Speaker 4: 18:17 And is to limit the length of the online sessions and mix in old school activities like craft projects that the kids will do offline. She'll also pre-record math and other important lessons. Speaker 6: 18:29 I might be, uh, probably a really optimistic, you know, and maybe a little naive as to how challenging this really might be. But I think, um, you know, it's part of kindergarten too, like, you know, it's always a brand new experience. And so I kind of feel like that for us, isn't all that different, you know, there's, you know, I think kindergarten teachers are a special breed in that sense that we always kind of anticipate the crazy and the unknown still Speaker 4: 18:57 Wilson acknowledges that parents or another adult are going to need to be with the kindergarteners to help them with the crafts and activities, at least for the first six weeks. But of course, that's not an option for many families. Speaker 6: 19:11 One kid obviously didn't have a parent in the room. So I kept going, like, here's my dinosaur. I want to tell you about my sister and the teacher didn't know how to mute. My daughter had meltdowns, Speaker 4: 19:31 Are you Sophie's daughter? Fatemia already started virtual kindergarten in San Marco. Speaker 6: 19:36 We can, we can address challenges, but it's been really bad. Speaker 4: 19:42 Now she's ready to pull her daughter out of school entirely. Speaker 6: 19:46 I'm concerned that, you know, this is going to give her more anxiety about school like this. The whole introduction to the school is, you know, is kindergarten. And, and I don't want her to have longterm anxiety about going to school about, about the whole process. Speaker 4: 20:01 She's toying with the idea of switching to homeschooling or having her daughter skip kindergarten, completely. Other parents are also opting out of public school, side and sauna. Aberdeen son Harris was finishing at magic hours, preschool in Mira Mesa. And they had planned to send him to public school kindergarten. This fall now magic hours announced it was offering kindergarten. Speaker 6: 20:25 It became almost like a no brainer to us. We really trust them. We know that they maintain good care and cleanliness and hygiene process. Speaker 4: 20:36 Of course the Aberdeen's we're looking forward to eliminating the cost of preschool this year $310 a week at magic hours, but decided it was worth it to pay for another year. They are lacking Speaker 7: 20:48 That social environment where they don't have a kids' lives to interact with in the long run. They will miss out, Speaker 4: 20:57 Could be unintended consequences. If a large number of parents decide not to enroll their kindergarteners in public schools, it would cause an enrollment dip and a corresponding drop in state funding to districts, Maureen McGee, a San Diego unified spokeswoman says the district won't have final enrollment numbers until October. Speaker 1: 21:19 Joining me is KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir. And Claire. Welcome. Thank you. Now let's step back. If we can and remind us what the purpose of kindergarten is supposed to be is a glorified daycare, or is there a larger purpose? Speaker 4: 21:35 I know for parents who are switching from a preschool to a public school, it's, you know, they're looking forward to the opportunity to not pay tuition anymore because public school is free. But I think going back, you know, kindergarten has become more and more an important part of school where it used to be a shorter day. Now it's now it's a full day. Um, and it's really about getting kids started on school, used to being in a classroom, you know, used to, uh, having structure to their day and being with a whole group of other kids, maybe for some kids they've never been to preschool or a daycare. So this is their first introduction to being around a lot of other kids and learning how to interact and share and negotiate and all of those things that come for for young children. Speaker 1: 22:26 So when you point out the inequities and how different families can approach virtual kindergarten, it may, it could have some real life consequences for kids in the future. Speaker 4: 22:36 Yeah. I mean, it seems, it seems like that is the big concern because you know, the kids who are maybe going to have a private tutor and be part of a pod that they're going to be starting off their school careers with some of that structure, with that interaction with, with other kids, getting used to being away from their parents may be because they're going to be with the tutor. You know, if it takes six months or something for San Diego unified schools to open the kids who have been in these kindergartens with tutors, or are going to start classes and know more about how to be in, in a classroom setting than the kids, who've, who've just been at home and their parents are maybe trying to have them follow lessons over zoom or, or something like that. Speaker 1: 23:24 Now the types of virtual daily school activities that a kindergarten teacher like Jane Wilson is planning. Can children do them pretty much on their own or will they need an adult to help them? Speaker 4: 23:37 I mean, that was, that was my question. When, when I was speaking with her, she was talking about doing a craft project, you know, maybe the letter of day is a, and so you're going to be cutting out and coloring in an alligator, um, to, to talk about the letter and also folk work on the fine motor skills of cutting coloring gluing. I have a three year old and I thought, well, you know, maybe there's a lot of development, which I'm sure there is between three and five, but I can't picture him being able to sit in a room alone and cut out anything and glue it. And she said, at least for the first six weeks, her expectation or her feeling is that a parent or an adult really is going to need to be there, um, to help with that and that, and she said that that also, um, brings up kind of a concern because after six weeks she would like to begin to transition kids to doing things without that adult supervision and direct one on one help. Um, so, you know, there's, there's the double-edged thing there of, uh, needing an adult there in the beginning when maybe some kids aren't going to have an adult available to give them complete undivided one-on-one attention. And then for the kids that do, she's going to have to try and get them away from having that adult watching over everything that they're doing within a month or two of of school. Speaker 1: 25:02 Now you talked with a parent who got so concerned about how her child was reacting to at home kindergarten, that she's thinking about having her kid skip kindergarten entirely. Can parents do that? And how does that work? Speaker 4: 25:16 Yeah, I mean, talking to her was very interesting because she really went into it. She, because she's in San Marcos, um, they've already started school, whereas much of the rest of the region hasn't started yet. And she went into it full of optimism and said, you know, my kid is an easy going kid. I think this'll be fine. And after three days she said it was so frustrating for her daughter that she was ready to just quit the, the whole thing entirely. And actually yes, in California, kindergarten is optional. The, the law is that kids need to be in school once they're six. And so I think you could have a kid who's turning six, maybe during the year, over the summer. And then they would just start first grade, um, and not go to kindergarten or the parents could decide they'll just be an older kindergarten or, and, um, and start kindergarten next year. Speaker 1: 26:12 Okay. So now that San Diego was off the state COVID watchlist, does that mean more schools will be open for in-person kindergarten? Speaker 4: 26:20 Well, it depends on the district because I'm so private schools can open already private. Some private elementary schools have applied for waivers, but once we're off the watch list for 14 days, um, private schools can open some school districts can make the decision to open, but that the decision is really up to the district. And San Diego unified has Speaker 6: 26:44 Said, we're not going to be opening. As soon as we're off the watch list, they have their own list of metrics that they want to have met before their opening schools. So parents with kids who are supposed to start kindergarten at a San Diego unified school are going to be dealing with this for a lot longer Speaker 3: 27:02 Speaking with KPBS, investigative report, Speaker 6: 27:05 Claire triglyceride, and Claire. Thank you very much. Thank you. Speaker 3: 27:19 The problem vexing parents, students and teachers across America has been solved by an East County school, at least for now how to reopen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic here to discuss the first day at Christian unified East elementary school, a private school in El Cahone is Kristin Dakota education reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Kristen, welcome to midday edition. Speaker 6: 27:41 Hi, thank you for having me Speaker 3: 27:44 Enough with why Christian unified was able to reopen in person when other schools in the County can't just do. Speaker 6: 27:50 Yeah, so they were one of the first schools to apply for a reopening waiver, which is the only way that yeah, in any schools in the County can be open right now. And they got it approved and they opened literally the first day that they could under the waiver process, which was yesterday, Monday. So they're one of the first schools I know of in the County to open other schools that got waivers approved are waiting a bit longer, like days or weeks longer, but they opened right on the first day. Speaker 3: 28:18 Now set the scene for us. What did the first day look like at Christian unified on Monday? I mean, it wasn't exactly like a normal first day of school. Speaker 6: 28:26 Yeah. So I think some of the things that stood out to me as being different were all of the teachers and staff, most of them were wearing face shield. So it wasn't, um, not all staff were wearing masks per se, but they were wearing face shields. Um, and so they were, you know, just greeting students from behind those. And then before you got to campus student, all students went through temperature checks and then when it comes to mass for students, not all of the students were wearing masks because, uh, the state is allowing students in grades two and younger to be, to not wear a mask. So Ashley, a lot of young kids were not wearing masks. So those, a lot of the younger kids looked, the classes looked like a normal class almost. And then another big thing that stood out was once you go into the classrooms, you see all these plexiglass barriers that are basically separating every desk from each other. Speaker 6: 29:24 Um, the dusty are still clustered into groups of two or four, uh, desks. But if you're a student you're basically looking out while you're at your desk from behind a window and you can't like reach out and touch your, uh, next door classmate. But, um, yeah, so those were the biggest things I saw. And then they had these sanitizing spraying machines and they were spraying the lunch tables and the swings and the toys or play equipment. So in those ways I think those are a lot of the things that were different. And then the students spent more time hand watching and, you know, making sure to get a pump of hand sanitizer before they walk in the door. But a lot of times it also kind of looks like a normal school day because, um, during recess and lunch, when they were outside the students that were allowed to take off their masks. So they were, you know, just running and playing like almost like pretty much normal. And of course when they were eating, they weren't wearing masks either. So yeah, it was kind of a, it was kind of a mix, um, there at some points in the day, it did look like a normal day, but others, it looked like a pandemic day. Right, Speaker 3: 30:33 Right. The lunchtime, obviously you have to have a mask off. Are they pretty concerned about the lunchtime being a hazard time? Speaker 6: 30:39 I didn't get that sense from this school, I guess, because I think, um, I asked the school leader or one of the school leaders about what they thought about distancing and, you know, did they think it was difficult to enforce six foot distancing the whole time? And throughout the day, I didn't see that much six foot distancing, but they basically said, you know, we don't think it's, uh, we think it would take time away from education to constantly enforce six, but distancing. And they thought that time was better saved for, um, teaching students. So I think they were, they were relying on the plexiglass barriers to basically substitute for the distancing and, um, the face shields. Speaker 3: 31:24 Uh, I wanted to ask about testing. What about testing? How that protocol gonna work? Speaker 6: 31:27 Yeah, so the school tested all of their staff the week before they opened. And they told me that, um, they got their results the same day, but yeah. So, and then after that, they are going to test their staff every two months for COVID. Um, and I've seen some other schools, um, include covered testing and they're reopening plans, but not all of them. And then the timeframe that they would test them also varies. So I've seen two weeks or I've seen two months. So I think it depends, but yeah, they're one of us, uh, Christian unified was one of the schools that is testing, having all their staff tested before they go back to, Speaker 3: 32:09 And I have to wonder about the threshold going forward. If they have a certain number of positive tests, will they have to do the dreaded thing and shut down again? Speaker 6: 32:18 Um, well that's for any school, if they, um, I believe if it's 5% or more of their, the people in the school, uh, test positive, then the whole school have to shut down. And then I think the exact details of, you know, if they get to a point earlier, uh, earlier than that, where they detect any COVID in the school than protocols might slightly vary. But I think a lot of schools are just deciding, you know, if we have one case in a classroom, then the whole classroom, uh, or the whole cohort, including the teacher or the staff would have to stay home for two weeks. Uh, I don't know. I'm kind of quarantined. So yeah, that's what a lot of schools are planning to do. Speaker 3: 33:00 And you talked to some, uh, teachers and parents and students and all basically what'd they have to say. Speaker 6: 33:05 Yeah. So all the students and parents that I talked to were extremely happy to be back like that. That's all, um, they were very, very happy to not be stuck at home. And the parents that I talked to you were worried about the social aspect for their kids. And they were worried about them being isolated so long. And the kids were just telling me, you know, why I'm not, I was bored at home. You know, I, I can only play video games or it was just very boring for them. And they didn't like learning online. They thought it was hard to concentrate and they miss being able to be right there with their teachers. So their teacher could help them. A lot of the kids said they missed their friends. So all the kids that I talked to were really happy to be back. Some of the kids thought the mess were annoying and the rules, uh, the extra rules were a little strange, but yeah, everyone was pretty happy to be back. Speaker 3: 34:00 And this is a private Christian school. What about, uh, other schools that we may see opening here and there's reports on those coming up? Speaker 6: 34:07 So the, the other schools that, uh, have been applying for and receiving waivers, most of them are private schools. And the County actually just said yesterday that they're going to stop accepting waiver applications because all schools may be able to open as soon as next week. Um, so you won't need a waiver to open as soon as next week, if we continue to stay off the watch list. So, so yeah, that might happen sooner than I think a lot of people were expecting. Speaker 3: 34:37 I've been speaking with Kristen Takita education reporter at the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks Kristen. Yeah, you're welcome. I'm Mark Sauer with Maureen Kavanaugh. You're listening to midday edition on KPBS. COVID-19 shut down the film industry, but now the city of San Diego's film office is back open with new guidelines for working in the pandemic and new tools for anyone who wants to shoot here. KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando speaks with filming program manager, Brandy Shimabukuro Speaker 8: 35:20 Brandy. Before we talk about what you're doing right now, I wanted to give people a little context. So back in 1976, Pete Wilson created the San Diego film commission, but that was essentially gutted back in 2012. So explain what's been happening since then to kind of fill in the gap for the missing film. As Speaker 9: 35:38 I think, as you know, the original San Diego film commission was one of the oldest establishment commissions in the country having been established in 1976, it started off as part of the chamber of commerce. And then it spun off as an independent organization and really brought in an enormous amount of filming to the region and partnership with Sue Siegel productions and established down soundstage in Kearny Mesa. A lot of things led to its dissolution, but from 2012 onward, the city of San Diego, what was then called the office of special events, took on kind of the core functions of at least permitting the permitting aspects of what the old film commission would do. And then mayor Faulkner and city council in 2015, advocated for the reemergence of the San Diego film office. Part of that was the creation of my role as the filming program manager within what ultimately became the special events and filming department within the city of San Diego. The intent had been to bring back the core functions and to truly market and promote San Diego as a filming destination. And that's what we've been doing ever since. Um, and in each of our city departments, we are tapping folks who are supporting filming in parks, beaches, peers at city lakes, at libraries at other city facilities, and ultimately providing support for help productions can get the shot that they want or that they need throughout the region. Speaker 10: 37:01 So you kind of had to almost start from scratch or reboot Speaker 8: 37:06 This division for focusing on film here in San Diego. So what was that like? Speaker 9: 37:10 You know, the first thing that I did when I came on board was I wanted to get a handle on where San Diego fits in terms of benchmarking. What were some of the top, uh, filming destinations across the country doing right? What were, what services could we provide them? Where did we need to fill the gaps? And we determined pretty quickly that a lot of it comes down to concierge services, to productions marketing San Diego, as a destination through if through advocacy and through actual support and having a presence at industry trade shows and conferences, but also providing online services like E permitting or a location gallery so that we could showcase all of the diverse locations San Diego has to offer and bringing a, what we're calling a real crew production directory online, so that when productions do want to film in San Diego, we can show them that we do have a robust crew base here and that we ultimately want people to work here in San Diego instead of having to go to another destination to film. So you essentially had to Speaker 8: 38:07 Booth the San Diego film commission, and then we also got hit by this pandemic. So how has that impacted you and what has filming been like here in San Diego since the pandemic hit, Speaker 9: 38:17 When everything shut down, back in March, it ultimately stalled the film industry across the board. Um, we certainly saw it here in San Diego and for most of April and may, a lot of productions were looking at how can they provide a safe work environment for their cast and crew and the state hadn't yet reopened or allowed production to come back online. Uh, that changed in June. And we had an idea of having talks every week with other film commissions and film offices statewide through the film liaisons in California statewide association, uh, which we are a member of. And we were all looking at resources. What guidelines can we set in place so that we can allow production to come back online? How do we provide the resources to production so that they can come back and that they can safely shoot on location or on private property? Speaker 9: 39:09 Production does look different these days. We are only allowing right now, smaller productions of casting crew counts of 15 or less. While we have been hearing from larger productions that are interested in filming later in the year, the bulk of what we have been seeing, filming on location in San Diego has been smaller. Commercial shoots, documentaries docu-series, um, small reality shoots filming. That's a lot more low impact. And what production ultimately looks like is you're taking an industry that thrives on close contact and in person meetups, because you're filming on location, typically cast and crew counts would be far, far larger than your typical threshold of 15. Um, so a lot of productions are utilizing what's called zones where there's minimal mixing. People are actively doing health monitoring every single day. Um, that is a requirement that we are doing physical distancing of course is required masks before people who are on location. Uh, is there also a requirement with the exception being for talent who are actively being filmed in front of the camera? So, um, but we've seen this before. The film industry will not depend on it. We haven't seen the pandemic before, but we've seen that the film industry across the board can be extremely flexible. Um, and they have really risen to the challenge of how to come back to work and do it safely. Speaker 8: 40:29 The interesting things you've created recently is this film permit zoning map, which will help people who are looking to shoot here in San Diego. Speaker 9: 40:36 Yeah, absolutely. I'm, I'm really excited about this and maybe it's just because I'm, I'm a mapping geek. Um, and, and I do need to acknowledge the incredible work from the city's department of its, um, uh, GIS mapping team, because they were the ones who really built this from the ground up, what this tool is, and we're calling it the San Diego filming jurisdiction map. So what it ultimately is is it's an interactive map that's available online, it's free and open to the public to access. And we have it linked on SD film.org on our website. But when you open it up, if a production has a list of locations and they aren't sure who they need to work with, they aren't sure which agency, you know, XYZ street falls within or what park space and who they need to be working with. Is that the city of Chula Vista, is it the port of San Diego? Speaker 9: 41:26 Is it the city of San Diego? This map will ultimately point them into the direction so that they know who at their fingertips, they know who they, they would need to reach out to. And they could just click on a link and it pops up the film permitting information, or the contact information for whomever that agency is now in the past productions. And they still can do this. They can still reach out to me directly, but if somebody isn't sure where, where their locations are, they can either reach out to me and I can point them in the direction, or they can use this map, which is available 24 seven. And is this a map that is still kind of in progress in the sense that are you adding locations? Can people add like their sites saying like, Oh yeah, I've got this great view here. Speaker 9: 42:08 You can come and use. So is it a kind of a work in progress still in that respect? It is. And it isn't. So we're constantly looking at based on feedback, we're getting from the public and through our own personal use, I'm looking at how we can finesse it, um, and how we can, how granular and detail we want to get. So I'll give you an example. Sometimes we get productions who want to film on a city of San Diego public sidewalk in a space that looks like it's public property, but in actuality, it, there are multiple different layers involved where let's say that particular space they're looking for is bridged by private property. Maybe it's MTS property, which is a state agency, and maybe it's also city of San Diego properties. So what we're looking at moving forward is how do we, how granular and detail can we get with this map so that it can show, if you drop a pin at this specific location, it'll say, I'm working with I'm on city of San Diego sidewalks. Speaker 9: 42:58 I don't need to necessarily reach out to anybody else except for maybe do some good neighbor outreach to say, Hey, you know, private property owner, I am going to be filming, but it is going to be contained on city of San Diego property. And what are you seeing moving forward in the next few months? I know that nothing is really easy to predict, but what kind of things are you currently focusing on? I mean, we're really looking at where the industry is going. So the intent in the next few months hopefully is that we would allow larger productions to come back online because the demand certainly seems to be there. Now, I will say something that's new for us in the midst of this pandemic that we weren't expecting is that as other filming destinations have ultimately gone offline for filming either because of quarantine or because California at the time was, was on a warranty watch list where they wouldn't allow crew that were traveling or casts that were traveling into their state to film, unless they were quarantined for two weeks at a time. Speaker 9: 43:55 So that ultimately leaves an opportunity for productions that want to film within the state of California. Because now if they can't go to say a Vancouver or someplace else, it means that productions are looking to stay closer to home. And there's an opportunity there to try to attract that to San Diego. And that's the intent at the end of the day is yes, we want productions to come back and we want them to be safe, but we also want the industry to come back and people to go back to work. All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about filming here in San Diego. You know, thank you for having me, Beth. I appreciate it. Speaker 11: 44:26 That was Beth Huck. Amando speaking with San Diego film offices, filming program manager, Brandy Shima. [inaudible].