Families Sue Governor Over California’s Required Distance Learning Plan

A lawsuit filed Tuesday against Gov. Gavin Newsom and administration officials alleges that the governor's statewide order that schools must meet certain public health criteria before being allowed to hold in-person classes is unconstitutional.

The suit, filed by the conservative nonprofit Center for American Liberty on behalf of nine parents and one child, claims that the governor’s restrictions prevent children from “receiving equal access to meaningful education.”

At a press conference Tuesday, the Center’s CEO Harmeet Dhillon said that the lack of in-person instruction disadvantages “the vast majority of children in California — middle class children, children from minority backgrounds, children with independent education programs to help them learn because of their special needs and children who have other struggles in the household.”

“All of these children we saw this spring semester of this year were failed by the state of California and its educational plans,” Dhillon added, referring to the statewide shutdown of school campuses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Newsom administration did not immediately respond to KQED’s request for comment.


School districts in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, among others, have already announced they will not initially offer in-person instruction in the fall.

— Hannah Hagemann (@hannah_hagemann), Monica Lam (@monicazlam)

Some San Francisco Libraries to Begin Reopening in May

Some — but far from all — of San Francisco's public libraries will start reopening for in-person reading in May.

The San Francisco Main Library's first floor will reopen May 3, and the Chinatown/Him Mark Lai and Mission Bay branches will reopen the week of May 17, Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday.

But when San Franciscans return to libraries in person, it won't be for long stretches. The San Francisco Public Library has developed what it calls its "Browse and Bounce" program for folks to browse books with an expectation of brevity.

No chairs will be available for sitting to read or to study, Breed's office said. No studying or meeting in library branch meeting rooms will be allowed.

Computers will be available for 50-minute stretches, however, with printers and photocopiers also available. Library staff will also be available to answer questions.

“We’ve missed each and every one of our library patrons, just as much as they’ve missed us and we are so proud to start welcoming them back inside,” said City Librarian Michael Lambert in a statement.

Other branches will reopen "as staffing permits," Breed's office said.

So where are the staff now? Many are helping to fill up grocery bags instead of book bags.

Since March of last year, hundreds of librarians and other library staff have elected to work with the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank as city "disaster service workers," a program that reassigns city staffers when needed in emergencies. They’ve also volunteered at shelter-in-place hotels to help people who are housing insecure to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, or have been helping kids navigate their online classes at community learning hubs.

Still, others are helping patrons borrow books at 15 libraries and four bookmobile locations throughout San Francisco, which will continue to allow folks to borrow books in a San Francisco Public Library To Go front door service program.

“I want to thank all of the Library staff, along with all the other City workers, who have been serving San Francisco’s COVID response for more than a year now,” Breed said in a statement. “I know that people have really been missing the library, and though we’ve adapted to provide more to-go options and online resources, there’s nothing quite like getting to browse the shelves and pick out your next book.”

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Marin 'on Cusp' of Becoming First Bay Area County in State's Least Restrictive Reopening Tier

Marin County may be headed into California's yellow, least restrictive reopening tier as early as Tuesday, when state health officials announce weekly changes.

The county would join just three others in the state — Lassen, Alpine and Sierra — currently in the yellow tier, allowing most indoor businesses to reopen. That includes indoor bars that don't serve food, which could reopen at 25% capacity. It would also allow for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The county is "right on the cusp" of the state's threshold to advance into the "minimal" tier, said county spokesperson Laine Hendricks on Monday.

"We're considering it too close to call because we are literally riding that threshold with very little wiggle room," she said. "So we are waiting with bated breath to hear what the state has to say about the decision."

That threshold includes positive test rates under 2% for two weeks and a rate of fewer than two cases per 100,000 residents. As of last week, Marin met both of those criteria, but the numbers are still being crunched, Hendricks said.

More than 75% of people ages 16 and up in the county have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to health officials.

If current statewide trends continue, with hospitalizations remaining low and vaccine availability high, California plans to drop all coronavirus restrictions – including its color-coded tier system — by June 15.

Polly Stryker

Oakland School District, Unions Reach Agreement for In-Person Learning in 2021-22

The Oakland teachers union and the city's school district have reached a tentative agreement for full in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year, district officials said Monday.

Under the agreement, which needs ratification by the union and approval by the school board, the school year would begin on Aug. 9 following public health guidelines, district officials said in a brief announcement.

A letter announcing the agreement was signed by Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.

Oakland Education Association 2nd Vice President Chaz Garcia said the agreement is conditional.

"We did not get into detail about what next year will look like other than saying there's a joint commitment to return to full in-person," Garcia said, but "there's just a caveat of if something's happening with COVID rates in an unfavorable way that could impact us all."

Last week, the district and union announced they were at an impasse over issues related to reopening and had asked the California Public Employment Relations Board to appoint a mediator.

Some Oakland teachers insisted they should be allowed to continue to teach morning Zoom classes from home rather than from their school classrooms, as some school leaders were insisting they do.

"It really did take a mediator to come in," Garcia said, to smooth over friction points in negotiations. Allowing teachers to continue working from home, "that essentially provides a great relief to people juggling with care responsibilities, as well as we have quite a few members who do not have the technology they need on-site."

On Monday, a district spokesman said the issues had been resolved.

In-person instruction in the district expanded Monday for Oakland students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade — and "priority students" in higher grades — whose families had opted in.

The agreement also states that students will return full time in person in fall, though Garcia says details have yet to be negotiated.

— Bay City News and KQED's Raquel Maria Dillon

Santa Clara County Adds Thousands of New Vaccine Appointments for This Week

Santa Clara County is opening up thousands of new COVID-19 vaccination appointments at multiple sites this week, including 10,000 appointments for next weekend alone, county health officials announced late Sunday.

New appointments are added daily based on available supply, and the county health system is now scheduling first-dose appointments up to one week in advance.

Everyone 16 and older who lives or works in the county is eligible and encouraged to sign up for a vaccination appointment at sccfreevax.org, said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

"This includes our community members who have already had COVID-19 and have recovered," Tong said. "The vaccines are our most critical and effective tools to protect you and your loved ones, especially with variants of the virus circulating in our community."

County officials say they will continue extensive outreach efforts to ensure that the communities most impacted by COVID-19 have ready access to vaccine appointments and information. Outreach includes door-to-door efforts to register families in hard-hit neighborhoods and on-site vaccinations for homeless community members and homebound residents.

The county and its partners are also working to increase evening and weekend availability for appointments and drop-in clinics, officials said.

More than 57% of Santa Clara County residents 16 and older have received a first dose of the vaccine, and more than 31% have been completely vaccinated, according to the county.

Matthew Green

Latino Task Force Partners With SF on a New Vaccination Site in the Mission

The city of San Francisco is opening up a second vaccine center in the Mission District at a union headquarters at 18th and Capp streets. The site will provide about 200 shots per day.

It’s the city’s fourth neighborhood vaccination site and will be operated in partnership with the Latino Task Force, a coalition made up of dozens of community-based organizations.

“To have a local community-run-and-implemented site means that you will have that extra touch if you have questions, if you're scared, if you speak Spanish, and we're local,” said Valerie Tulier-Laiwa of the Latino Task Force.

She says the Mission sites have become models for other community groups who want to reach essential workers.

The new site is planned to be open Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m, by appointment and with limited drop-in availability.


From the city’s release:

“Mission residents and residents in eligible ZIP codes can sign up for an appointment in person at 24th and Mission Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. or at 701 Alabama Street Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.  Mission neighborhood residents and workers can email LatinoTaskForceSF@gmail.com to request an appointment.”

Raquel Maria Dillon and Kevin Stark

Contra Costa County Begins Offering Walk-in COVID Vaccinations

Contra Costa County will begin offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible people who live and work in the county, officials announced Thursday.

The county will operate multiple pop-up sites over the next several weeks in partnership with the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. The sites will be able to collectively administer 500 to 700 vaccines per day.

The first walk-in clinics will be placed in parts of the county that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, like Richmond, Concord's Monument Boulevard corridor and parts of East County, officials said.

"We want everyone to get vaccinated as quickly and conveniently as possible," Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said in a statement. "That's why we are opening walk-in vaccination clinics in our hardest hit communities, especially communities of color. This effort helps us close the vaccine equity gap."

Previously, vaccine-eligible people in Contra Costa County had to request an appointment, and would only be able to schedule a vaccination appointment after county officials manually reviewed the request.

The county opened vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older on March 30. As of Wednesday, 858,878 vaccine doses had been administered countywide.

About six to 10 volunteers are needed to help with shifts from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. People who volunteer don't have to be fully vaccinated and may receive the vaccine as well. People interested should email Dawn.Morrow@bos.cccounty.us to sign up.

These temporary walk-in clinics will be available on the following dates:

April 15-25; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Veterans Memorial Hall in Richmond
  • Antioch Community Center

April 26-May 2; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Albert D. Seeno Jr. Pittsburg Youth Development Center
  • St. John Missionary Baptist Church North Campus in Richmond

May 3-6; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Meadow Homes Elementary School in Concord
  • St. John Missionary Baptist Church South Campus in Richmond.

County residents and people who work in the county can visit https://covidvaccine.cchealth.org/COVIDVaccine to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Eli Walsh, Bay City News

As Vaccines Open Up, California Is Still Struggling With Equity

California expanded vaccine eligibility late Wednesday, allowing everyone ages 16 and older to sign up for an appointment. But the state is still struggling to vaccinate communities that have been hit hardest during the pandemic.

According to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health, out of the total number of vaccine doses administered, only 3.2% have gone to Black people and 22.4% to people who identify as Latino. Nearly 31% of the shots have gone to white people.

Of the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state, 44% of the positive results have occurred in the Latino community and more than 7% in the Black community.

Kiran Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, a statewide multicultural health advocacy organization, told KQED the state needs to continue to push forward in getting the vaccine to communities of color.

“We need to double down on the equity strategies that we’re using in California,” she said. “We need to make sure that we continue that 40% allocation to the most vulnerable neighborhoods.”


Savage-Sangwan said the biggest challenge for these communities has been access — access to accurate information and nearby distribution sites located in easy-to-get-to places, as well as ensuring that vaccine sites remain open beyond the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday.

Without expanded hours, she said, it can be difficult for some folks who work long days and can't take time off to get a shot.

Keith Mizuguchi