A health care worker prepares a dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Impact of ending COVID emergency; Aptos mom’s anti-bullying fight

Greetings, Lookout friends. It’s Tuesday, Feb. 28, and more showers and temps maybe cresting 50 are the forecast of the day for Santa Cruz County before we get a brief (if chilly) dry stretch Wednesday and Thursday.

Lots to explore on Lookout; head this way if my guided tour isn’t for you.
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Nearly three years after it was instituted, California’s COVID state of emergency expires Tuesday. Max Chun looks at what that will mean for Santa Cruz County residents — and what happens when the federal emergency winds down in May.

Hillary Ojeda, meanwhile, has a pair of stories from local K-12 education. In Aptos, she reports, one mother is pushing the school district to do more about bullying and mental health after a number of incidents — including one she says was racist — left her 14-year-old son feeling unsafe. And in Watsonville, the city council will decide Tuesday night on whether to change local zoning to help charter school Ceiba College Preparatory Academy remain open.

In our Community Voices opinion section, university administrator Robert M. Kaplan takes on the public-media institution of the pledge break, wondering why PBS and NPR send viewers and listeners on regular guilt trips.

Much to get to, so let’s delay no longer.

Expiration of California, federal COVID emergencies could end some free services in Santa Cruz County

A nurse prepares a syringe of COVID-19 vaccine.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California ends its COVID-19 emergency declarations Tuesday, just shy of three years since they were first issued. While that move might not immediately affect much locally, federal emergency declarations are set to sunset in May, which could end some of the free services introduced during the pandemic. Max Chun has the details.

COVID DASHBOARD: California passes 100,000 deaths

As schools confront rise in post-pandemic bullying, one Aptos mother wants districts to do more

Aptos Junior High School
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz )

Melissa Schilling says incidents like one in which fellow students told her son, who is Black, that they didn’t like “his kind of hair” and gave him a haircut made the 14-year-old feel unsafe at school — a sentiment echoed by half of Black students in one Santa Cruz County survey. As in many places across the U.S., “we’re also seeing big behaviors on campuses — aggressive behaviors more than ever before,” the county superintendent says. Here’s more from Hillary Ojeda.

MORE FROM K-12 EDUCATION: Santa Cruz City Schools’ workforce housing could be completed in three years if all goes to plan, district says


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That is what I know as we head into the last day of February. And more is on the way, including the last Lily Belli on Food newsletter before Lookout’s food and drink maven steps away on leave. Sign up here for that and all of our other newsletters, plus breaking news alerts. Following Lookout on social media is also a great way to stay up to date with what’s going on around Santa Cruz County; we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Take it slow and be safe out there, and I’ll see you back here as we embark on March.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz