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Morning Lookout: Vaccines ramp up for county teachers, grants to help CZU victims and more

Good Morning! It’s Thursday, Feb. 11. Grab your umbrellas and raincoats if you’re headed out because we’re expecting clouds and showers with a high of 57. This will be the first of three systems that are expected to bring rain to the area through next week, according to the National Weather Service.

We’re waking up to news that your kids — at least the elementary students — might end up learning in person sooner than previously expected, as education officials are working to get teachers and school staff vaccinated. Meanwhile, as new cases of COVID variants are popping up in our back yard, we still don’t know of any here. But that might change soon as researchers at UC Santa Cruz will begin testing for variants later this month.

Meanwhile, nearly 6 months after the devastation of this summer’s fires, a new grant is offering help to those who lost employment, and Wallace Baine’s column this week features Love You Madly’s continued effort to raise money for victims through haunting music videos.

We’re also keeping an eye out for more information about a female pedestrian who was struck and killed by a semi while walking a dog near the intersection of River and Water streets yesterday afternoon.

Here are your headlines:

Elementary students could return to Santa Cruz schools in March as vaccination tide begins to turn

Will in-person learning get going again in March?
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Elementary students could return to Santa Cruz area schools under a hybrid in-person and remote model in March as teacher and staff vaccinations start to fall into place. Earlier plans to vaccinate the more than 7,000 K-12 teachers and school staff across the county were derailed by a shortage of doses and the continued age-based guidelines in place in Santa Cruz County. Our Nick Ibarra tuned in to the Santa Cruz City Schools and PVUSD board meetings last night and has the latest information here.

Celebrate the MAH’s 25th Anniversary with new exhibitions and events happening throughout Santa Cruz County in 2021.

UCSC gears up to to begin search for COVID-19 variants in Santa Cruz County

Yesterday, California’s first cases of the South African coronavirus variant were confirmed in the Bay Area — one case in Alameda County and the other right over the hill in Santa Clara County. Other variants, including the more contagious U.K variant, have also been previously detected around the state and in neighboring counties.

While no such variant cases have been confirmed in Santa Cruz County, it might be because no one was looking for them. That’s set to change. The Genomics Institute at UC Santa Cruz is gearing up to begin routinely sequencing the genetics of virus samples for the first time, using positive tests from the campus and its partners across the county. Read more from our Nick Ibarra and Mallory Pickett about the complex science that might help keep people safe.

#BOLO — COVID update from county officials

Later today, Santa Cruz County Public Health leadership will hold their weekly press conference to update residents on the latest news about the pandemic and vaccine rollout. Be On the Lookout for the livestream at 2 p.m. on our website and check back for updates after the briefing.

Free COVID 2021 virtual event: Get inspired by these ‘people in the pandemic’

Clockwise from left: Jennalee Dahlen, DNA, David Ghiarducci and Paula Marcus
(Kevin Painchaud, Event Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County)

Meanwhile, as we at Lookout continue our expanded COVID 2021 coverage, we have another event coming up. One of our many focuses as a news organization has been to tell the stories of Santa Cruz County people who are overcoming COVID-19’s obstacles and dealing with its tragedies. On Wednesday, Feb. 24, we will talk with four community members — Yoso Wellness Spa owner Jennalee Dahlen, Santa Cruz County EMS medical director Dr. David Ghilarducci, comedian and events producer DNA and Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El in Aptos — who, like us all, have seen their ups and downs during the pandemic. Read more about our panelists and register for our free “People in the Pandemic” event here.

Another COVID Read: Two masks may be better than one in reducing COVID exposure, CDC report finds (LA Times)

Those whose work lives were affected by CZU fires can get paid for helping with recovery

A burned chair frame is left after the CZU Lightning Complex fire crept on to Amber Turpin's Bon Lomond property.
Only a burned chair frame is left after the CZU Lightning Complex fire crept on to Amber Turpin’s Bon Lomond property. Luckily, the fire stopped four feet away from her house.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A $1.5 million grant will provide jobs for 75 workers displaced by last August’s CZU Lightning Complex fire to help with recovery efforts in areas including Big Basin State Park, Henry Cowell State Park and Wilder Ranch State Park. The employment opportunity will be run by Goodwill Central Coast, and provide up to a year of work for those who are “who are unemployed or underemployed due to the CZU Lightning complex fires.” Read more here about the eligibility criteria and benefits made available through the grant.

The Here & Now: The mad musical love that keeps on giving: Cello on a torched Bonny Doon hill latest ode to CZU fire victims

X on the cello

Wallace Baine writes in this week’s The Here & Now column about how fire recovery efforts continue even six months after the devastation of the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. He writes:

“Even just driving up there, into that upper part of Bonny Doon, it was really unrecognizable,” she said. “I felt like I was in a different land completely and I’ve been driving up there for 20 years. It was a dramatic transformation.”

She set up her cello on a vista overlooking what had been a familiar view, flanked by her two collaborators. And they proceeded to play a lovely instrumental tune written by well-known Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel.

Wallace also writes about how the Clam Chowder Cook-Off is pushing through despite the pandemic and about UCSC’s African American Theater Troupe that is marking 30 years this month. Read the whole thing here.

Presented by Cabrillo College

The show must go on: the performing arts have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cabrillo’s Dance,...

Around the county . . .

Pedestrian killed in semi truck collision while walking dog in downtown Santa Cruz (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Phase II debris removal underway after devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fires in August (San Lorenzo Valley Post)

Scotts Valley seeks to curb ‘targeted picketing’ (Scotts Valley Press Banner)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor