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Rady Children’s Hospital Begins Vaccinating Frontline Workers

 December 15, 2020 at 12:58 PM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 What it means for San Diego is frontline medical workers getting the COVID 19 Speaker 2: 00:05 Maxine. That's a tool for them to be able to do their job each and every day. Speaker 1: 00:09 I'm Jade Heintzman with Maureen Cavenaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. How nurses are reacting to another layer of protection while working on the front lines. Speaker 3: 00:29 You'll care when you can't breathe. And we're just tired. You don't get the luxury of work from home on zoom. We have to go in every day, Speaker 1: 00:40 We'll hear from the longest serving member of the San Diego County board of supervisors. Plus the change coming to friendship park. That's ahead on mid day. Our top story on midday edition today is a hopeful day for the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego. The first group of frontline medical workers will be vaccinated with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. That group includes doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist, and others who are at high risk of coming into contact with a COVID patient. Joining me to talk about how the vaccine is being rolled out is Dr. Nicholas Holmes, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Rady children's hospital, where 2000 doses were just received today. Uh, Dr. Holmes, welcome. Speaker 2: 01:35 Thank you very much for having me, Speaker 1: 01:37 You know, the first vaccines will be administered beginning at two this afternoon. What kind of preparation is going into getting ready to begin vaccination? Speaker 2: 01:45 Well, the logistics for our preparation for vaccination has been somewhat complicated, but the team has done an excellent job getting us ready first and foremost, we have to keep track of every single person that gets a vaccination, as well as giving them the information about the vaccination. Because in about 21 days after their initial dose, they will have to receive a second dose. So all that information actually has to be uploaded into the federal registry, um, keeping track of vaccinations they're going across the United States. Speaker 1: 02:14 Um, and you know, the vaccine itself must be stored at very low. Temperatures is the training for giving this vaccine any different than say a flu vaccine. Speaker 2: 02:23 The training's not any different it's, it's the handling and the preparation, uh, following the manufacturer's recommendations, keeping it in the minus 70 degree freezer, again, falling into appropriate for about two hours and the reconstitution of the vaccine. And then the ministration is like any other, uh, vaccination that you would give. And there's Speaker 1: 02:41 Limited window between the time the vaccine is bought to the temperature where it can be injected and when it essentially goes bad, uh, that what's that timeframe like, and how is Rady working within it to ensure they can use all the doses in that window, which I believe is six hours. Speaker 2: 03:00 Yes, that's correct. It's six hours after the, um, the vaccines completely fought, uh, that and reconstitute that, uh, it needs to be used. So we actually have risk stratified, um, our staff, according to the guidelines from the local health authorities. And so we'll be going through each of the tiers, starting with tier one, a for those, uh, uh, staff that are, uh, had the highest risk of being exposed to a COVID positive patient or a potential someone who may have COVID COVID Speaker 1: 03:29 You vaccinate staff, will you be a vaccination side for other priority groups or even the general public? And if so, how are you going to handle those issues with them? Speaker 2: 03:39 So if the County asked us to participate, uh, in that process, we will certainly be glad to. So our goal is making sure that the community is protected and so we will do whatever we can to help assist in that role. Speaker 1: 03:51 And there's been lots of polling done on how many Americans intend to get the vaccination is a it's hovering around 60% overall is really requiring its staff to get the vaccine. Speaker 2: 04:04 So we're recommending at this stage to get the vaccine we can't require and make it mandatory because again, the FDA is approved only for emergency use, and each individual has to consent to use the vaccines. Uh, if in the future, if, uh, health authorities or whether it's the, uh, local health authorities or at the state or federal level, uh, mandated for healthcare workers, we will certainly be in alignment with what those recommendations are. Speaker 1: 04:29 Are you seeing people who are reluctant to take the vaccine Speaker 2: 04:34 So far? We haven't seen, uh, any reluctance, there are some questions, uh, especially for, uh, you may have heard certain individuals in England, uh, had a allergic reaction, what we call anaphylaxis, uh, to the, to the vaccine. And so we've had some questions about that. Um, but you know, we're fortunate to have Dr. John Bradley who's infectious disease expert, as well as Dr. Mark Sawyer, who actually is on the States, uh, uh, vaccine panel, as well as, uh, the, uh, FDA's, uh, vaccine panel as well. So we have some of the world experts here to answer those specific questions. And again, may have reassured us that it's safe and effective, uh, to combat COVID-19 Speaker 1: 05:16 Let me ask you personally, you know, how do you feel about getting the vaccine? Speaker 2: 05:21 Uh, I'm actually very excited and so I will wait in line, um, when it's my appropriate time, uh, according to the risk stratification, and I will certainly undergo the vaccine, because again, this is the only proactive tool that we have in our tool belt to be able to come back. Uh, COVID-19 certainly, we've spent a lot of efforts trying to, to contain it with, uh, PPE hand-washing masks, social distancing, but again, this is the only real proactive tool. So when I had the opportunity to receive it, when it's my turn, according to risk stratification, I will be taking the vaccine. Speaker 1: 05:55 And as I mentioned earlier, received 2000 Speaker 4: 05:58 Doses today. How many additional doses are you expecting? Speaker 2: 06:03 Well, that's a really good question at this stage. We don't know. I know governor Newsome announced that there will be some additional doses to the state of California from Pfizer next week. And so we anticipate, uh, again, uh, however, the local health authorities dictate what percentage or what amounts each of the acute care facilities receive. Um, we have estimated that we would probably need about 7,000 doses overall in order for us to be able to vaccinate, um, all of our healthcare workers. Speaker 4: 06:32 Uh, and what does it mean to frontline staff that they'll finally have some protection against the virus? Speaker 2: 06:38 Well, I think it's, it's reassurance for them. Again, this is one tool for them. Um, all the things we've done so far have actually kept our staff and employees safe. And so, um, all of those things, we will still need to continue it, even though we have the vaccine, uh, this overall would decrease their relative risk of potentially getting it. Uh, but they will still need to continue to do the PR using the proper PPE hand-washing and, uh, all the other protective measures again, it's so it's just a, it's a tool for them to be able to do their job each and every day. Speaker 4: 07:10 I've been speaking with Dr. Nicholas Holmes, senior vice president, and chief operating officer for Rady children's hospital. Dr. Holmes, thank you very much. And thanks for what you're doing. Speaker 2: 07:19 Thank you for having us today. Speaker 4: 07:26 [inaudible] as you just heard after months of working under high-risk conditions on the front lines of COVID-19 San Diego doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers are finally getting some badly needed protection. The Pfizer vaccine with its 95% success rate will remove the most lethal threats that healthcare professionals have been facing, but it won't remove the emotional toll that crowded ICU's and increasing deaths are taking on the staff. Joining me is Elizabeth Jones, a nurse at UCLA medical center in the Hoya whom we first spoke with in March. She joins us on behalf of the California nurses association. And Elizabeth welcome. Thank you for having me. Have you heard how hospitals plan to administer the vaccine? In other words, who on staff we will be getting at first? Speaker 5: 08:17 So I only know UCS DS plan, um, that was revealed to us on Wednesday during our weekly town hall. So the frontline will be, or the first recipients will be emergency rooms and ICU, uh, their nurses and doctors, and, you know, specialty staff. And then it will be, it will roll out to secondary units that are not primarily COVID seeing. So our clean units would then get it and so on and so forth with people who are offsite, administrative administration would not be receiving it until the very end. There's like 30 steps to this. So that's what they've told us. The is also because there are potentials for side effects that there'll be doing it in waves. So they won't do the entire department at once because they don't want everyone to be out with, you know, the potential side effects of flu and just feeling under the weather, or if there is a much worse side effect that someone may have like anaphylaxis. Um, so they're going to do it in small groups in each department based on the tiers that they have set out Speaker 4: 09:20 Where in that line, will you fall as Elizabeth? What department do you work in Speaker 5: 09:26 The way they've drawn this up? I work in a surgical oncology and transplant TCU, a progressive care, which is like an ICU step down. So my, I would be in the second or third tier, depending on how many injections they get. Speaker 4: 09:41 And what does getting this vaccine mean to you Speaker 5: 09:45 Personally, I have mixed reviews or mixed feelings about it. I'm really excited about it. The fact that we might, you know, if it works as well as a, they, because that we will have, you know, some immunity and I can go back to the way it was prior to COVID. And I would hope that he will be still be more cautious and we would take a lesson from what COVID has done to this country or the world really, and just be more conscientious with hygiene and the way we treat the environment. Um, I'm also scared though, that this is a very, very new vaccine and it's a new virus that's come out. We don't know the long-term side effects of what had happened. So I have mixed feelings about it. I'm hopeful. I'm very hopeful. I have faith in the scientists that, that created this, but I'm also very, very nervous because we don't know what the long-term effects have been or how this virus really mutates in the long run, since it is so new, Speaker 4: 10:44 You're mixed feelings. Do you plan to get the vaccine? Speaker 5: 10:48 I still, I'm going to be a hundred percent honest. I am very undecided. UC promises us that they will. If we, we have the right to decline and if we decline, they will ask us again, I'm going to wait and see how my colleagues do with it. Um, I also don't want to take away from the people who are dealing with it, head on from the beginning, from the front. So if I have to wait my turn, because I'm not seeing COVID patients, I'd rather someone from the ICU or the ER, edit over me because they're seeing them more frequently than I am. Speaker 4: 11:23 Now. We last spoke to you in March when there were PPE shortages calls for a safer working conditions for healthcare workers. Do you have enough safety equipment now, Speaker 5: 11:34 The PP? We absolutely do. Thankfully we have a good stock and we get daily briefings about how much, uh, you're either red, yellow, or green. And we're in the green with the, with the PPE, which is great. The issue now is staffing and that's available beds. We are as an, as a profession across the board, I would say probably across the entire world, we're tired. And every day we have more and more people who are just burnt out and they, you know, don't have the energy to come to work or they'd been sick themselves or their family's sick and the need to take care of them. So we're, we're tired. And that's primarily where our stuff where our shortages. Now it's not the PPE. It's, it's the staff. Um, we've had a lot of retirees or, you know, older nurses who are on the brink of retirement say that this was the final straw for them because they were at a high risk of catching the virus. Instead, it's not worth it. I may as well retire. So we've had a lot of people leave as well. So that's where we're at with this is it's, it's a nursing shortage at this point. Speaker 4: 12:43 Well, as the hospital load increases, there have been calls to decrease. The standard number of nurses required for each ICU bed. Is that a viable solution, in your opinion? Speaker 5: 12:56 It is so dangerous. I had this conversation with friends and family multiple times. We're really, really lucky in California. And this is a reason why a lot of people come to work in California. This nursing ratio is one of a kind, it's the only one in the country. And by increasing the amount of patients, nurses have to look after you're increasing the risk for mistakes and death. Um, in these patient loads, I worked in other States where I've had eight, nine, 10 patients and things get missed. So this is really, really dangerous. And the patients that we're taking care of, because we've kind of limited who is being admitted and who we're operating now at this point with a surge coming, these patients that are in the hospital need to be there. And they're very, very, very sick. So that's more stress on us, more resources, more time at each bedside, but then you add another patient or a third, a fourth patient or fifth patient, and you're increasing the risk of things getting missed or people dying. It's a terrible idea. Speaker 4: 13:56 There are now some better treatments for cases of COVID. Have you been seeing better outcomes for patients lately? Speaker 5: 14:05 Um, yes, I would say so because we've had the data and we've, we've been able to learn as we, as we go along with these patients, we are treating better. I personally don't work in a COVID unit. I work in a clean unit, but we have seen the numbers drop and you know, around Halloween Thanksgiving, those numbers started to rise. So they are staying there longer and it is taking more of a toll. Speaker 4: 14:29 Now, after months of this relentless work, how are you and the hospital staff doing Speaker 5: 14:37 Retired? Honestly, we are just so tired and it's really disheartening when we go into that into work every single day to take care of strangers. You know, our patients are a stranger as we get to learn them and love them as, as time goes on. But these are strangers and we care for them. Like we care for our own family. This is a duty and a calling and it's something we're super passionate about. But then to turn around and watch the news and see people calling it a hoax, or even like I'm over the virus. I don't care anymore. If I get COVID we'll you'll care when you get it, or your care, when you're second, you need a hospital or a bed or your grandmother or your parent gets it, or your kid gets it and they don't do well. You'll care when you can't breathe. Speaker 5: 15:24 And we're just hired. We don't get the luxury of getting to work from home on zoom. We have to go in every day, but the Kiki on earth masks, the entire duration of our shifts. My hands are bleeding from washing my hands so much, and I was pretty vigilant before, but now I'm pretty OCD about it. My hands bleed, they're tired. It's exhausting. It's absolutely exhausting. And it's, we don't get a break from it. It's either in the hospital or it's at home or it's on the TV or it's on the radio. We're tired. We're so tired. Speaker 4: 15:58 What do you want the public to know about what they might be able to do to help you guys out? Speaker 5: 16:04 I know most people don't care or they care and they don't think it's going to happen to them. But when it does happen to you you'll know all about it. And just because you recover and your survive COVID doesn't mean your life goes back to the way it was before I have a colleague who was one of the first patients to get it, and he's still not healed. He's still unable to work. He still reeling from his infection nearly a year later. And if you don't need to go out, please don't miss holidays. As healthcare workers all the time with our friends and family. I know it sucks, but please like be thoughtful, stay at home. If you don't feel well, don't show up to something. You can miss it. It's not this fear of missing out needs to end. So please just stay home and be respectful of the people who are working so hard to save the lives of strangers. Speaker 4: 17:00 I've been speaking with Elizabeth Jones, a nurse at UCLA medical center in LA Jolla. She, she was speaking on behalf of the California nurses association, Elizabeth. Thank you. Thank you for everything. And thank you for speaking with us today. Speaker 5: 17:14 Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it. Stay healthy. Speaker 4: 17:18 It should be noted that Pfizer's clinical trials have shown no severe side effects to its COVID vaccine. According to information released by the FDA's vaccine advisory committee, the most common side effects were soreness at the point of injection fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint, pain, and feet. Speaker 4: 17:47 This is KPBS edition. I'm Maureen, Kevin Cavenaugh with Jade Hyman. The longest serving member of the San Diego County board of supervisors steps down next month. Diane Jacob will leave office after representing her East County district for 28 years. Supervisor Jacob has seen mayors governors and presidents come and go during her tenure and seen both the landscape and politics of San Diego County change substantially. She can look back over a career that saw San Diego increase its fire protection and struggle with the issues of housing, social services and development journey may is San Diego County supervisor Diane, Jacob, and welcome to the program. Speaker 6: 18:29 Well, thank you. It's, it's a great pleasure for me to be here, Speaker 4: 18:32 You know, with you and longtime supervisor, Greg Cox, leaving the board next month. It really is the end of an era at the County. How are the needs of the County different now from when you took office in 1993, Speaker 6: 18:46 If we look back to 1993, the County was on the brink of bankruptcy and it was drowning in red ink. And the board at that time had the challenge of fixing the finances. That was the number one priority until we got the fiscal house in order, we could not really move forward to do anything else as we have done over the last 28 years. So fast forward to today. In fact, just a couple of years back is we have huge challenges now facing us with a housing shortage, the homelessness issue, behavioral health issues, and those issues were always out there, but not like they are today. So big, big challenges today that are very, very different. And I think the new board is, is really going to face those challenges head on, Speaker 4: 19:39 You know, the County board has been frequently criticized for being too careful with its reserves and not addressing major problems like social services for people in need or mental health services. Now, as you step back and assess your time in office, do you think some of those criticisms were fair? Speaker 6: 19:57 No, I don't. I don't at all because the reserves were exactly what we needed to have in place in case of emergency. And we saw the 2003 Cedar fire where the County was able to step up and use some of those emergency funds to help those fire victims. And also in 2007, had we not had the reserves that we had today, we had, we would not have been able to help our businesses with the economic stimulus program and rental system, other programs where we're helping both business and individuals during this COVID crisis. Speaker 4: 20:38 How has the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the County? How has that compare to other challenges? The County has faced during time on the board. It's Speaker 6: 20:48 Like no other, this pandemic is something that, that none of us have ever seen. Um, during my time on the board. And the only thing in my lifetime I could go back to was the polio epidemic back in the fifties. And I was in high school at the time. And I remember that I was in junior high and high school at the time. And I remember it very vividly, but this pandemic is even different than that. It huge challenges the effect, not only on the health of the people in San Diego, but also on the businesses. And then there's been so much disagreement in the community. And even with the elected officials, even with elected officials on my board about how this should be handled and it's, it's easy to sit back and be critical of somebody else when you're not walking in their shoes and you don't have the same information. And I, you know, I could be as critical as anybody else's in terms of how I feel that this has been handled, but that really at this point, doesn't do us any good. We really need to come together. The lights at the end of the tunnel, the vaccinations are out today and soon people will get those vaccination. I hope they do take advantage of them. It's not going to do any good to have the availability of the vaccinations. If people will not get the vaccine. Speaker 4: 22:15 Are there things that you think the County board should do that should be sure to do to respond to the pandemic and overcoming the economic fallout? Speaker 6: 22:26 Because of our, uh, we've been on sound financial ground. We have been able to put in almost $30 million to, uh, assist our businesses and then even more than that to assist some folks with their rent and we've waived fees in different departments, uh, to help our businesses and individuals. So from a County government standpoint, I feel that we've done as much as we can do, and as much as we can afford the feds need to step up. And it's very frustrating to watch the arguing in Washington about another stimulus package. When we have our businesses sitting here shut down once again, and really struggling. Some of them may not, may not be coming back. Speaker 4: 23:15 How did the devastation of the Cedar fire back in 2003, how did that change? The county's attitude toward fire protection? Speaker 6: 23:23 The first time in the history of San Diego Kennedy, that a fire in our back country area actually went into the cities. What happened at that moment in time was a realization of all five supervisors and three of the five basically represent cities, but it was a realization then with the Cedar fire, Hey, this is a regional issue, even though I had been saying it for some time, it was, it was kind of like a, that's a back country issue. That's Jacob's issue, that's Horn's issue. And we were able then to really pick up on the momentum to bring together the unincorporated area, volunteer fire agencies. And there were about 35 of them at the time that we consolidated about 1.5 million acres, but actually the story of the San Diego County fire protection district, as we know it today goes way back to 1993. When I came on LAFCo I had asked for an analysis of the discrepancies with both service and finances of our fire departments in the unincorporated area. Speaker 6: 24:41 And they were huge. And with that, we move forward little by little working with fire chiefs and working with others to try to bring money into help out those volunteer fire departments. As soon as back in the seventies that the County got out of the fire business. And I felt that was a bad decision. And I had set out then to try to make that right. It took quite a few years. We kept putting more money in, we did a micro study, a macro study, we got all the data, all the information, and then the Cedar fire hit. And that moment in time really speed it up the infusion of money that the counties put into it to the tune of over $575 million a year. And that's over 50 million annually. We have the fire stations in the unincorporated area, that house firefighters, uh, 24 seven, we also have paramedic service that we don't have. Speaker 6: 25:46 So the end result is we are able as a County now with fire protection district to be a partner with other city departments and also departments like Lakeside and Sam McGill that are fire districts to be able to come together to fight a fire. And I can tell you without question two things, one, we are far better prepared today to fight a fire and respond to those emergencies, which include medical emergencies than we were ever ever before. And we have coordination of effort in this region among our fire agencies, like none other in the entire country. Speaker 4: 26:30 And what more do you think the County might be able to do to help us with our fire protection needs? Well, we will Speaker 6: 26:36 Continue to invest and, and to improve and the fire protection area, uh, there's always more to be done, but the heavy lifting has been done. So that enables us now to really invest as we have in the last couple of years and other issues that we're facing the challenges of homelessness and behavioral health. We have a lot of people on the streets that have mental health problems and then our seniors, um, those with Alzheimer's disease. And we, we just had a conversation earlier this morning with West health and we have geriatric emergency departments. Now we will in every one of our hospital emergency departments, and those are specialized emergency departments for senior citizens that will specifically address the needs of those seniors. So it's from seniors. It's not just the fire and the emergency medical, but it's, uh, the homeless situation and across the board, and let's not forget our kids we've done a lot. Speaker 6: 27:48 And I go back as an elementary school teacher and one of my passions for kids. And I saw firsthand when I was teaching that you get out there, get the kids out there on a ball field as a part of a team they're learning life skills. Uh, they're actually by exercising and, and involving themselves in physical activity that carried directly into the classroom, into their academics, to where I saw students that were not doing well in their math or reading or their academics go out onto the field and be successful, come into the classroom. And it really improved their academics in the classroom. And, and also for our kids, if they're exercising, which is good for them, it's keeping them out of trouble. So we've managed over the last 28 years in partnering with others, we've built over 130 different ball fields and, and pools and parks and playgrounds and you name it. Um, my goal was to have the best recreational facilities in the region and all targeted towards our kids. Speaker 4: 29:02 It's a well-known supervisor, Jacob, that you've been a major critic of San Diego gas and electric you've argued against rate increases the sunrise. Powerlink the public safety power shutoffs. In fact, you've had a real feud going with SDG and a, what do you hope the county's relationship with SDG and E becomes moving forward? Speaker 6: 29:23 Well, let me first be clear. My problem with SDG and E are not the workers that are out there, uh, day in and day out it's with the management and those that set the policies for SDG and E and frankly, it's a, and whenever you have a monopoly of any kind, and in this case, electricity is a lifeblood commodity. It's something that we, as people cannot do without, and there's a huge lack of competition in the market. So what I'm hoping going forward is that there is some competition to SDG and E the ultimate would be to form a municipal, municipal utility district. I don't know if the regions elected officials collectively have the stomach for that, but if you look at public power and public power systems, not just in California, but throughout the nation, it's a lot cheaper. And we sit here in San Diego County with SDG and E and we have some of the highest electricity rates in the region, and that's not right, and it's not fair to our businesses. It's not fair to individuals. There's a better way. Speaker 4: 30:38 One challenge that remains is for the County to develop a climate action plan that won't be thrown out in court. Why has that been so difficult? Speaker 6: 30:48 Well, the County got it wrong. And unfortunately, part of the problem was looking at the mitigation being out of the County and even out of the country for what they call these offsets, where you could mitigate in, in our region on the greenhouse gas emissions. That was one of the primary reasons that the court said that the, the county's climate action plan was invalid and it should have been fixed a long time ago, uh, supervisor Fletcher, and I, we have not voted to appeal the court decision. Uh, I, both of us Nathan can speak for himself, of course, but, but both of us believe very clearly that the County should have focused all its money, all its energy on fixing the climate action plan. I had sat down some time ago with representatives of the Sierra club, and I truly believe that there is a plan. There is a way to come up with a climate action plan that works, and it, there just needs to be the will to do it. And with the majority of the board, I have not seen the will to do just that. And the County staff has gotten it wrong. Our lawyers got it wrong. So now's, now's the time get it right. Speaker 4: 32:13 You think the new board will be more successful Speaker 6: 32:15 Then? Yes, I do. Yes, I do. Yeah. Speaker 4: 32:18 Or Jacob, the candidate, you preferred to step into your district to chair on the board, didn't make it, Joel Anderson will be sworn in next month. How do you think that will impact your district? Speaker 6: 32:30 Time will tell time will tell. I reached out to Joel and after the election results were certified and, and offered to him that I would help in his transition anyway, that I possibly could. I feel that that's in the best interest of the people that, uh, he will serve that I have served over the last 28 years. My interest is in the people, and I care a lot about the people in the district and their needs and moving forward. Um, again, no one knows how an individual is going to govern, uh, once there, uh, until they're in the seat and start doing it. So I, along with many other people are going to be watching, uh, obviously I, I was disappointed in the outcome, but it is what it is. And Speaker 4: 33:21 Mr. Anderson take you up on your offer to help him with the transition? Speaker 6: 33:26 Um, yes, he was very appreciative and, and again, we'll help in any way he wants it's up to him, how much help he wants Speaker 4: 33:34 Most of your time on the board, the board was all Republican. Now there's a democratic majority. How do you see that working out? Speaker 6: 33:43 I don't see the issues that we face in local government being Republican or Democrat. The issues are people issues and the needs of people need to be met regardless of what the party is. It should be people over party. It should be people over politics. I'm very, very concerned about the term limits and the fact that a member of the board of supervisors now will be limited to two terms, which would be a total of eight years. I'm not sure that term limits is going to give a person enough time to really dig in and take on some, some major projects. I mean, I can go back and tell you some, a couple of the projects it's taken me more than 20 years to complete, but you never give up. So I believe that there will be a shift in priorities, a shift in, in spending. But again, I would hope that the new board members will keep an eye on what's important to the people and to listen to the people and hear what people are saying, not just a small vocal minority, but all the people it's that silent majority to that is not so vocal that that needs to be supported and needs to be heard. Speaker 4: 35:04 What are your plans for your next chapter? Speaker 6: 35:07 I have a list 28 years long, and, um, we have a ranch in homo and deer horn Valley. And, uh, we have contracted with the El Capitan stadium association ag program for well over 15 years now. And we grow Otay on the property. So to do a little more, uh, ranching and farming activity on the ranch, and I really need Speaker 7: 35:38 To improve my golf game. It's it's suffered a bit. Speaker 4: 35:42 Well, good luck with that. I've been speaking with San Diego County supervisor, Diane, Jacob, thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Recent data released by school districts show that while many students are falling behind during distance learning, English learners are among those suffering. The most KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong spoke to teachers and experts about the struggle of learning a new language in a new country. While schools remain closed, Speaker 8: 36:16 Damian Patterson works with English learners in the Grossmont union high school district. He said, they're in an almost impossible situation. Speaker 7: 36:22 Imagine myself going to another country and having to do what they're being asked to do in Arabic, or having to do that. And Mandarin, I would fail miserably, you know, but that's what we're, they're being asked to do Speaker 8: 36:34 Data compiled by the district show more failing grades across all student groups, but Patterson says English learners are getting D's and F's at disproportionately higher rates than their peers. And it's not just that Grossmont officials at Sweetwater union high school district and palliate unified school districts see similar trends Speaker 7: 36:51 Being in a class, being able to practice that language with your peers and, and have those, those engaging conversations where you're using the language that's by far the best way to learn and to help these students become successful. Speaker 8: 37:05 You're say this crisis is yet another example of the pandemic amplifying existing inequalities. Jorge clevis on is the district advisor for curriculum and instruction of dual language and English learners at the San Diego County office of education. Speaker 7: 37:20 The tunes are getting Dita. Naps are probably a symptom of larger issues that are going on for these students Speaker 8: 37:26 In California's public schools, English learners are more likely to come from low income families and experience homelessness and are less likely to graduate than their peers. Speaker 7: 37:35 There's a lot of reasons why this category, which has to do with their linguistic background is just one of the many hurdles that they are experiencing when they're trying to get an education. Especially now, Speaker 8: 37:49 That's why one teacher working with English learners says handing out grades to these students is only making things worse. And the Monet is an English language development resource teacher at OTI ranch, high school, and the Sweetwater union high school district. Speaker 7: 38:01 It's unfair because the grades are assuming everyone's internet connection is equal and everybody's home. Life situation is equal and that they have a learning space in their home. And they are, you know, in quiet locations with no other obligations. Speaker 8: 38:19 One Hayes says she's doing our best to help non bilingual teachers work with their students who only speak Spanish, but the virtual classroom puts up significant barriers. Speaker 7: 38:28 Many students have never met me. So when I do reach outreach to them, they don't respond because they don't know who am. They've never, they're new to the school. They've never met me. And so that opportunity is lost on them. Speaker 8: 38:43 And Monet says she often ends up helping both the students and their peers Speaker 7: 38:47 Under normal circumstances. I think one of the biggest challenges for ELD students is that they don't have a strong advocate because their parents are also English learners. For the most part. Yeah. Speaker 8: 38:59 Back in Grossmont Patterson says radical measures will be necessary to undo the damage the pandemic has done to English learners. Speaker 7: 39:07 I personally feel like we're going to have to go back and start from the beginning. And in most cases, because a lot of these students come to us not being literate or fluent in English or literate in their Elwanda their primary language. And they've had no, no educational access. I guess I'm trying to say since March Speaker 4: 39:27 Joining me is KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Welcome to the show. Speaker 8: 39:32 Thanks for having me. Maybe Speaker 4: 39:34 You can give us some background on how English learners are usually taught in San Diego schools. Are they taught in their native languages or in English? Speaker 8: 39:44 Yeah, so it really depends on the student. Um, the category of English learner really encompasses a wide range of students from, uh, students who don't speak any English to students who are sort of on their way there. So for students who don't speak any at all, they're more likely to be in bilingual classrooms where some of the instruction does take place in their native language. Whereas maybe other students who are more advanced in their English will be in the general education classroom. And there'll be paired with students who are maybe bilingual to sort of help them in the transition. So it really depends on the student Speaker 4: 40:24 About what percentage of San Diego unified student population are regarded as English learners. Speaker 8: 40:31 Yeah. So, uh, at San Diego unified, which is the, of course the county's largest, it's about a 20, 21%. And that's pretty consistent with the rest of the County. Typically more affluent areas. You tend to have lower rates of, uh, English learners. And the highest I've seen is an Escondido where, um, about 38% of students are qualified as English learners. Speaker 4: 40:56 How was learning English different for kids when their classes are running? Speaker 8: 41:00 Yeah. Virtual learning comes with all kinds of challenges for all students, but if you're learning a language or working in a language that you're not comfortable with losing that in person sort of mode of learning is, is extremely problematic because you no longer have the, the body language or the visual cues that are so often helpful when you're, when you are learning a new language in a zoom setting, you're sort of less likely to ask a question if you don't understand something. And you know, when you're learning a language practice is key and in the physical classroom, it's hard enough for certain students to try and answer a question in English when they're not comfortable with the language, but that gets even more challenging when you're in a, in a zoom. Speaker 4: 41:51 Now your report show highlights not only the specific problem of learning a new language remotely, but how the stresses of home life are affecting these kids. Can you tell us more about how their experience of remote learning, maybe different from more affluent kids? Speaker 8: 42:08 Yeah, so, uh, data from really across the country, uh, show that English learners are more likely to come from low income families. They're more likely to experience homelessness and, um, experienced other traumas. They're also more likely to have to work, to support their families in the economic sort of consequences of the pandemic as well. So these challenges sort of just add on to the academic challenges of learning a language right now, Speaker 4: 42:40 How are districts reaching out to students and their parents to help them get better grades Speaker 8: 42:46 About being proactive? So I think teachers right now are spending more time than ever making phone calls, sending emails, and, uh, just trying to establish relationships with parents to sort of really get them on board with this and try to get that additional support at home. If there is something going on, uh, you know, in, in, in the home life for these students, teachers are really working to, to address those as well. And just trying to be flexible, um, with their students and their families, Speaker 4: 43:17 Since many students, including the English learners that you're reporting on, have gotten bad grades during this remote learning time. Is there any effort maybe just stop grading kids during this time? Speaker 8: 43:30 Yeah. So I think that that's a real challenge because, you know, you got to keep students accountable and motivated and, uh, you're not always doing them a favor when you don't give them grades or go too easy on them. Right. But I think the teachers who work with English learners, uh, they're spoke to, they all seem to agree that grading these students right now is not the right way to go. A lot of these students don't have stable internet connections. Uh, I mentioned they don't have sort of the stable home lives or the support at home. So these teachers feel like they're, they're penalizing these students, um, and sort of the higher rates of D's and F's, uh, show the lack of grace that these students are being given right now. Speaker 4: 44:13 And is there a concern that this year of remote learning and bad grades may have a lasting effect on some English learner students? Speaker 8: 44:22 So the teachers and educators I've spoken with they're hopeful because we're still just, you know, halfway through the school and Speaker 9: 44:32 If the vaccine arrives and the pandemic starts to wind down, um, you know, there's still time to sort of intervene and make up for that learning loss to make sure these students don't fall behind in the longterm. But what I can say is that English learner learners tend to graduate at lower rates than their peers, even when things are normal learning, isn't easy for English learners because of all the other things that I mentioned that, uh, they typically experience. So I think as educators really do have reason to be concerned, but it seems like they are, uh, cautiously optimistic about what they'll be able to do in the remainder of the school year. Speaker 1: 45:14 And I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter, Joe hung, Joe, thank you. Thank you. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and I'm Jade. Hindman friendship parks. It's on the border between Mexico and San Diego overlooking the Pacific ocean. It's meant to tie the binational community together. It's a place where people meet, hold prayer services and reunions. It's a symbolic bridge in the Trump administration's final days. There are now plans to build a wall by replacing current fencing with 30 foot fencing. And some say it's a further desecration of the historic park here to talk about. This is KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler, max, welcome. Hi, good to be here, max, describe what the fence at friendship park looks like and how it will change. Speaker 9: 46:11 So right now there's two fences at friendship park that, uh, divide Tijuana from, uh, the border state park right there. So you've got around an 18 foot fence. That's made out of metal that abuts Tiquana, and that's where people have painted murals. People can reach their hands through and the slats that basically allow people to see through aren't very large at all. And then a few feet away from there is what you have is the secondary fence, which is much smaller it's um, on the beach, of course it's made out of chain link and then a little further up it's made out of, um, kind of normal fence that we would see maybe a little bit like a secure garage, something like that. So the changes that they're proposing is that both of the primary fence and the secondary fence will be replaced by these 30 foot high ballers that, and we've seen that across the rest of the San Diego sector is the replacement of existing border fence. And of course, some of these were Vietnam and you're a landing mats that they said no longer fit its operational needs. So you saw those, uh, be replaced in places a much further East. This is the first attempt to change it, uh, to the West and reaching right to the water. And so it's, it's proposing a radical change to the space because it's these two 30 foot high walls. Speaker 1: 47:27 So will these changes impact the ability of visitors to see and touch friends and family on the other side of the border, Speaker 9: 47:35 The idea of people just kind of being able to walk over to the friends from the U S side, that's not really a reality. Usually it has to be already worked out with border patrol to visit and see friends. And of course there's several times throughout the year that border patrol allows this to happen either for prayer services, family, or unions for a while, they were doing weddings, things like that. So already it's very secure. Um, but what would happen with this, um, visibility would be that basically, uh, you wouldn't really be able to see as much as you currently do right now. It's in fact, you kind of have this moment where you could see through the fence and kind of imagine what it would be like without, uh, a border there, a border barrier. But right now, if you were to add those two fences, like they have on the rest of the border, I've been there. It's very tough to see through them. Speaker 1: 48:22 So why does the Trump administration say the fence needs to be replaced? Speaker 9: 48:27 Border patrol told me that it no longer fits its operational security needs, that these are outdated fences and that because of, uh, what they consider to be increased activity along the border, uh, that these need to be replaced. And the best way to do that would be these 30 foot high bollards. Speaker 1: 48:44 And what can you tell us about whether there have been problems with people crossing the border illegally at friendship park, Speaker 9: 48:51 Friendship park is a, and that area of the border is one of the most secure locations along the border. You always have a border patrol vehicle right up on that Hill. You have several video cameras and you have an aircraft that, uh, either a drone or a helicopter that consistently goes back and forth along the border. So there is a lot of eyes on it. Uh, that doesn't mean people don't cross people do at certain times, especially if there are days where there's a heavy Marine layer, which interferes with visibility, but much like the rest of the border. Um, if somebody does cross, um, a lot of them are apprehended fairly quickly and especially people are don't intend to cross at that location just because of how secure it already is. Speaker 1: 49:36 Mm. So what's been the reaction to this, um, additional fencing by people who use the park and other advocates. Speaker 9: 49:43 So for, uh, several years, uh, the group, the friends of friendship park have been working with the, uh, border patrol to keep this friendship park going and to make it accessible to the public. They believe this would be a serious change. John fan is still he's with the organization. And he told me that the park would lose its character if the new fencing was built. Speaker 10: 50:06 So the, the whole purpose of the place is by national encounter and to build these intimidating, uh, walls to make it feel more and more like you have to, you know, almost like you're visiting in prison is to really undermine the spirit of the place. Speaker 1: 50:19 Hmm. So tell me about what friendship park means to the community. Speaker 9: 50:23 It means a lot from the two Quantis side. Uh, if you go into Mexico, I know it's tough right now, but in the past, um, again, you could reach over and just kind of look into the us. Um, and that's something that I think a lot of people don't really do as much as they could in San Diego and something that people really want to, um, the people behind friendship park want to encourage is come down to, uh, this beautiful state park that you have on the border and see into Tiquana because right there you apply us to, to which is a thriving beach, uh, residential, commercial, uh, atmosphere, where people are having a community right up into the fence. So it really shows kind of the dual nature of, of our Tijuana San Diego city that are just divided by this wall. So people really feel that friendship park is what keeps these two sides of the wall together. And each step that's taken to divide, uh, the park, um, makes it harder to encourage this type of friendship that they really believe in. Speaker 1: 51:24 And in January us border patrol demolished part of the park, what can you tell me about that Speaker 9: 51:30 In January border patrol, demolished friendship garden. So in addition to the park, they run other areas. There's the marker of the first official part of the border. And then there's this garden, half of which is on the us side and half of which is on the Mexican side. And in January of last year, if that the U S side was destroyed, um, randomly one morning and, uh, border patrol actually said a few days later that this was a mistake they apologized for doing it, and we're going to help, uh, in replanting it, of course, right now, if they were to replace the new primary wall, it would be destroyed again. So Speaker 1: 52:08 What would advocates of the park like to see happen instead of this fence? Speaker 9: 52:12 So advocates for the park next year, we'll be celebrating 50 years of the park. And since then, first lady Pat Nixon came to the park and inaugurated it and said that there's not going to, you know, I hope there's one day that there will be no fence. So they're going to be unveiling next year, a new plan for the park that will actually create that binational encounter. That fan is still talked about, uh, that that basically will allow people to see each other meet with each other, do so in a way that border patrol will be made feeling comfortable, but also as he says, doesn't make it seem like a prison. Speaker 1: 52:52 And for now, what is the timeline for this new fencing to be built? And, um, could the incoming administration change that? Speaker 9: 53:00 Yeah, it's entirely up in the air border patrol told me yesterday that construction won't be completed until late next year, but they've already told the friends of friendship park that they're going to begin construction shortly. And that contracts have already been issued. Uh, of course the Biden administration has said that they will build no new border wall along the Southern border. Of course, that's kind of a, uh, uh, vague way of explaining it because this wouldn't be new border wall. This would be a replacement wall. And if the contracts are already given out, does that mean, you know, it's being built are basically, these are designed build contracts. So there's a lot of wiggle room for the Biden administration to either let this move forward or stop it. It's entirely possible seeing the reaction that people are having to this, that they will stop it. Um, then again, they might also because the Biden administration much like the Obama administration is going to be looking at having a deterrent posture along the South Southwestern border. We might just let it go ahead. Speaker 11: 54:04 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, max Rivlin Adler.

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Dr. Nicholas Holmes of Rady Children’s Hospital joined Midday Edition to speak about how Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out in San Diego County. Plus, crowded ICUs and increasing deaths are taking a toll on doctors and nurses. And County supervisor Dianne Jacob will leave office next month after representing her East County district for 28 years. Then, KPBS spoke to teachers and experts about how hard the online learning environment is for English language learners. Finally, Border Patrol plans to replace the border wall at Friendship Park, drastically altering the park’s landscape.