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New School Reopening Guidelines

 February 15, 2021 at 5:01 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, February, 15th. The latest Plans For Reopening Schools. We’ll have that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. San Diego public health officials reported more than 500 new covid-19 infections on sunday and 28 additional deaths. New shipments of the Moderna vaccine have been delayed. And that’s forced some vaccination sites across the state and in San Diego to temporarily shut down, slow vaccinations, or reschedule appointments. A new shipment is expected on Tuesday. Meanwhile, coronavirus infection rates and hospitalization continue to fall across California, though the death toll remains persistently high. The state reported more than 400 deaths on sunday. The overall total in California for more than 46,000 deaths is now the highest in the nation -- surpassing the total death toll of New York state. Despite the grim numbers, health officials are confident that the worst of the infection surge is over. California State Parks announced plans for turning an oil refinery property along the central coast into a huge off-road recreational area. The proposal is for the Phillips 66 Santa Maria refinery near Arroyo Grande. The refinery is still operating now, but is planned to close by 2023. From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. There’s some updates from federal, state and local authorities on how and when to reopen schools. KPBS Education reporter Joe Hong has more. San Diego Unified School District officials are now saying that a return to full in-person learning is all but certain in the fall, and they’re increasingly optimistic that more students will be able to come to campuses in the coming months, even if it’s just part time. Richard Barrera is the president of the district’s school board. BARRERA.mp400:02:26:06RICHARD BARRERA /// SDUSD BOARD PRESIDENTWe’re very confident Joe that we can open in the fall. We’re very confident we’ll have an expanded summer program, and if trends continue the way they are now, we believe we’ll have more of our students on campus in the spring. Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their much-anticipated guidance for reopening schools. The guidance introduces its own colored tier system. Barrera said San Diego Unified officials will consult with experts at UC San Diego over the weekend about how the district will respond to the new CDC guidelines. Joe Hong KPBS News. And that was KPBS Education reporter Joe Hong. A NEW PILOT PROGRAM IS TAKING A NEIGHBOR-TO-NEIGHBOR APPROACH TO REACH PEOPL MOST-IMPACTED BY COVID-19. KPBS REPORTER MATT HOFFMAN HAS MORE FROM CITY HEIGHTS. California farmers are running out of wildfire insurance options. inewsource investigative reporter Camille von Kaenel tells how a San Diego County rancher’s case sparked a statewide effort to get farmers help. VON KAENEL: On Nathan Rakov’s 30 acre chicken ranch in rural Alpine, cattle and sheep graze on the brush to lower fire risk. But that hasn’t helped him find insurance. RAKOV: We'd like to think that the system is gonna work and they're gonna come up with ways to give us credit for doing mitigation. At this point for the most part, insurance companies have just redlined certain zip codes VON KAENEL: He uses California’s last-resort insurance. The FAIR Plan. But when he tried to add a tractor to the policy last year, he got rejected. He was told farms aren’t eligible. He turned to Hannah Gbeh, head of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. GBEH: I said, this is unacceptable. We can not get a letter issued from the fail safe fall back program saying farmers are not allowed to have coverage. VON KAENEL: She got the California Farm Bureau involved. So far about two dozen farmers in the state say they’ve also been turned down for the FAIR Plan. The plan’s president says state law forbids it from insuring farms. State Senators Ben Hueso and Toni Atkins from San Diego are now working on a possible fix. For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter Camille von Kaenel. That was inewsource investigative reporter Camille von Kaenel. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS. State lawmakers are trying to reconcile the sometimes conflicting values at work at public university hospitals and Catholic hospitals that collaborate on patient care. KQED’s April Dembosky explains. California is looking at a major restoration project for the Salton Sea. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has more. The state is investing more than 200 million dollars in a project that’ll create flooded ponds and other habitat on the exposed lakebed at the Southern edge of the lake. “We’ll complete the work over the next two and a half years, I believe completing the project in 2023.” State resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot says The Salton Sea has been shrinking rapidly since 2018. California committed to a multi-billion dollar restoration effort as part of a deal that allows water to be sold to cities like San Diego. The project can’t be started soon enough for Imperial Valley clean air advocate Luis Olmedo. “It is a best available control measure to do water habitats at the project and that’s what the federal government requires.” This project is part of a comprehensive plan to eventually cover close to 40-thousand acres of exposed lakebed. Erik Anderson KPBS News And that was KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson. Coming up.... Is it possible to reopen San Diego’s theme parks any time soon? We’ll have that conversation next, just after the break. The latest Covid-19 vaccination super station opened at the Del Mar Fairgrounds over the weekend. Though whether the del mar fair itself will return in the summer remains to be seen. Other popular attractions, like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, are open only on a highly restricted basis. Though all theme parks across the county want restrictions to be eased. Lori Weisberg covers tourism and marketing for The San Diego Union-Tribune. She spoke with KPBS Roundtable Host Mark Sauer about the latest situation. That was Lori Weisberg of the San Diego Union Tribune, speaking with KPBS Roundtable Host Mark Sauer. And for our arts segment today…. Diversionary Theatre is the 3rd oldest LGBT theatre in the United States, and it’s decided to take advantage of having to be closed for the pandemic by beginning long overdue building improvements. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with its executive artistic director Matt Morrow about what the remodel means for the organization. BETH ACCOMANDO: Matt, we are sitting in the middle of what used to be your lobby space here at diversionary, what is going on right now? MATT MORROW: Well, what's not going on right now? It's we are in the middle of renovations. They started demoing the entire building about two weeks ago, and they're making really good headway. This space, our our lounge is going to be transformed into our third performance venue, which we're really excited about. It's going to be a cabaret space and it's going to have a full bar experience. And so we've been working really hard with our designers and our architects on what it means to honor the gay bar of yesterday. And so our cabaret is going to stand in honor of the gay bar as a historical place where our community gathered and organized and commune with one another and really launched the LGBTQ movement that we know of today. BA: Now, I know this pandemic has been challenging for arts organizations. However, doing this renovation while we're in the midst, while we're in the midst of the pandemic seems like it's making the best use of this kind of time. MM: Yeah, you know, it's really strange. We were working on this campaign for about a year before covid-19 hit. And when covid-19 hit, we were completely surprised. We didn't know if we can continue with the campaign or if we should continue with the campaign. But, you know, we had a gala event that happened about three weeks after covid-19 hit. And that gala event, which had to migrate online and be virtual, really showed us how much our community loves diversionary and put a lot of wind in our sales. And we were like, you know what? We should continue with the campaign. And also, while we're at it all theaters are going to need to address covid-19 and safety and security measures. Let's take those things that we're learning about covid-19 and how to make our public spaces more safe and integrate them into the design while we have this opportunity. BA: So what were some of the post pandemic things that you decided to add to the fear that you had not thought of doing before? MM: Well, the biggest thing that we're learning about is that the virus really travels through the air and it's really about air filtration and optimizing our systems. We're also incorporating antimicrobial materials into the design of the space as well. We're also incorporating hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility. So whenever you feel like you need to sanitize your hands, you're just an arm's reach from one. BA: Talk a little bit about what the renovations will mean for the actual theater space itself. MM: We're getting all new theater seating, which I'm sure our patrons are going to be super happy to hear about, because the theater seats before we're way too small and very old and uncomfortable and frankly loud ever had springs that were constantly blowing right in the middle of, like the most tender moment of our performance. So we're getting all new theater seats that are high quality and comfortable. The theater seats are going to be a little bit larger. We're also going to be able to expand our main stage. The actual stage itself is going to gain about three feet. And so that's going to increase the type of work that we're able to produce on that stage. BA: Can I ask how much the remodel cost? MM: The entire remodel is 2.5 million and we are just over 80 percent of our way to achieving that two point five million dollar goal. BA And you said you're at 80 percent of the fundraising goal. So what's the plan for paying for the rest of it? MM: We've been fundraising from our closest friends up until this point, and now we're turning to the public and starting the public phase of the campaign. And so we're going to be engaging the public at large in the campaign moving forward. And, um, yeah, that's that's pretty much it. BA: All right. Well, I want to thank you for talking about diversionary, and I look forward to a reopening opening. MM: Thanks. Thanks so much, Beth. That was executive artistic director Matt Morrow speaking with KPBS Arts Reporter Beth Accomando. If you check out tonight’s Evening Edition, you can see what Diversionary Theater’s remodel will look like. Or check out Beth’s web story at KPBS dot org. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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With updated school reopening guidance from the CDC, San Diego Unified officials signaled optimism for a partial return to campuses in the coming months Meanwhile, there’s new hope for the Salton Sea and... a conversation about reopening San Diego’s theme parks sometime soon.