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Morning Lookout: Major homeless shelter expansion proposal, back-to-school for older kids and more

Good Morning! It’s Friday, March 5. It’s expected to be partly sunny with a high of 60, with light rain expected in the late evening into the overnight hours.

We’re waking up to revamped statewide rules on COVID-19 reopening tiers and vaccine distribution as the pandemic continues to slow. Locally, more middle and high schools are now plotting returns to hybrid learning. Some high school football players are already back practicing — even though exactly how seasons will shape up is far from certain.

But our biggest local story this morning is a pitch by two Santa Cruz County supervisors who are proposing a major effort to get more shelter beds set up in unincorporated areas for homeless people through partnerships with churches and community groups.

If you’re not already signed up for Lookout’s Breaking News Text Alerts, I highly recommend you do. When major news happens, we deliver those headlines right to your phone, so you can be in the know all the time. You can sign up for the free text alerts here or just text the word BREAKING to (831) 265-0158.

With that, let’s get to your headlines:

At pivotal time in homelessness crisis, Santa Cruz County supervisors pitch major shelter expansion plan

A pink tricycles sits at a homeless encampment at San Lorenzo Park, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Trying to help turn the tide on Santa Cruz County’s homelessness crisis, Supervisors Manu Koenig and Ryan Coonerty are proposing a framework under which churches, nonprofits and other organizations could create 100-plus shelter beds for unhoused people by summer, with long-term goals to be determined. The proposal will be brought before fellow supervisors at a meeting Tuesday. Read more about the evolving proposal from our Patrick Riley here.

Read more from Lookout:

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Californians aren’t leaving the state en masse — but they are leaving San Francisco, study says

File image of Golden Gate Bridge
File image of Golden Gate Bridge
(via Pixabay)

The number of Californians leaving the Bay Area has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly from San Francisco, according to a new study released Thursday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, net domestic exits from the Bay Area “have increased 178% compared to pre-pandemic trends, with a 9% increase in departures and a 21% decrease in entrances in the last three quarters of 2020 relative to the same period in 2019,” according to the study. Read more from the LA Times here.

READ ALSO: As the Biden administration mulls paying farmers to mitigate warming, climate economists question if the push is backed by science or pressure for Big Ag subsidies (LA Times)

Big changes to vaccines, tiers

File image of vaccine doses
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The state is dramatically changing who gets vaccine priority. What we know: Outlined yesterday, the state’s new vaccine plan will reserve 40% of vaccines for underserved communities. This marks a major shift in how the vaccines are distributed and comes amid growing evidence that white and Asian communities are getting more doses than Black and Latino communities. Read more about the plan and what it will mean for Californians in this story from our LA Times partners.

California is also changing reopening guidelines: California’s tiered reopening system is seeing new changes that Gov. Newsom’s office hopes will make it easier for businesses to reopen and increase pressure on school districts to bring kids back to campus. Once a certain percentage of low-income, high-risk populations in 400 ZIP codes around the state receive vaccines, the state will adjust the coronavirus case rate needed for counties to move between tiers. Read more from Lookout content partner CalMatters here.

What all the changes mean for Santa Cruz County: With a rapidly changing statewide landscape, Dr. Gail Newel and the other local health officials sought to address and provide some clarity surrounding all the changes and what they will mean for residents. They also discussed Sutter’s dwindling vaccine supply, youth sports and more. Read about everything we learned from yesterday’s briefing from our Mallory Pickett here.

Back-to-school updates

Scotts Valley Middle School — and other middle and high schools across Santa Cruz County — might reopen again soon.
(Chris Fusco / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Return plans for middle and high schools quickly taking shape in Santa Cruz County: Middle and high schools across most of Santa Cruz County are gearing up to return to in-person instruction this spring, with plans for hybrid learning quickly taking shape. Read the latest from school districts on older kids going back to classrooms from our Nick Ibarra here.

READ ALSO: California school reopening plan gets final OK, though some lawmakers wanted more (LA Times)

Everything we learned (and didn’t learn) about high school sports re-openings yesterday: Much is still to be determined on whether high school football will stay on its current course of COVID testing and whether a more relaxed version of guidelines will come down from the state on all sports. County health officials say they are still investigating what that might look like but gave new details about it during their press conference yesterday. Our Mark Conley lays out what it means for the student-athletes in your life.

RELATED: Settlement opens the way for all high school sports — potentially even indoors (LA Times)

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Around the county . . .

Five new wheelchairs added at Santa Cruz County beaches (KION-TV)

Beloved PV High Bike Tech instructor told he won’t return next school year (The Pajaronian)

Aptos’ Tracie White follows a medical mystery in new book (Good Times)

That’s it for today. And just a reminder, that Lookout membership offer I told you about yesterday is still valid. If you buy an annual Lookout membership, we will throw in a signed copy of “2020 Hindsight,” a coffee table book that chronicles a year like no other through the voices and experiences of Santa Cruzans. To get the offer, use the code HINDSIGHT2020 when you check out here.

Have a great weekend!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

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