Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, March 2.

Third time’s the charm?

The school reopening deal Gov. Gavin Newsom and top lawmakers unveiled Monday stops short of requiring campuses to reopen — raising questions about whether it will actually accelerate students’ return to the classroom.

The $6.6 billion proposal would incentivize schools to bring their youngest and most vulnerable students back by April 1 while financially penalizing campuses that remain closed past that date, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano, Laurel Rosenhall and Barbara Feder Ostrov report. The plan does not require teacher vaccinations, as Newsom has already set aside 10% of the state’s weekly doses for education workers, in addition to all Thursday and Friday appointments this week at two federally run mass vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles.

  • Newsom: “We expect that all of our (transitional kindergarten) to (grade) two classrooms open within the next month … Once you build trust, then we will start to see the cadence of reopening across the spectrum.”

Two of the state’s most powerful teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, appear generally amenable to the proposal. But it may not be enough to bring kids back to campus in some of the state’s largest districts. Though Los Angeles Unified confirmed Monday it has enough staff vaccine doses to fully reopen elementary schools, it also pushed back its target reopening date from April 9 to mid-April — and the United Teachers of Los Angeles slammed the new proposal as a “recipe for propagating structural racism.” Negotiations also remain stubborn in San Francisco.

  • San Francisco Unified spokeswoman Gentle Blythe: “Though I wish it could, the governor’s announcement does not change our timeline because there are still many steps we need to take to get there and many of those aren’t expedited even with financial incentives.”

Meanwhile, parents’ frustration has reached new heights. Fed up with the demands of the Berkeley teachers union, a group calling themselves Guerilla Momz filmed the union’s president dropping off his 2-year-old daughter at a private in-person preschool.

  • Guerilla Momz: “We hope to highlight this discussion has never been about safety, it is only about power.”


The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 3,479,078 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 52,194 deaths (+0.4% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

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1. Most nursing homes remain shuttered

Mary Yabroff strokes her husband Larry’s face during a visit at Chaparral House, the skilled nursing facility where Mary has been a resident since last year, in Berkeley on Feb. 25, 2021. Larry says his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s “still remembers me, still knows who I am and is happy to see me.” Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Mary Yabroff strokes her husband Larry’s face during a visit at Chaparral House on Feb. 25, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

The vast majority of California’s nursing homes remain closed to indoor visits, even though the state is wrapping up resident and staff vaccinations and coronavirus cases have dropped 98% since December, CalMatters’ Barbara Feder Ostrov reports. Families who haven’t been able to visit their loved ones in nearly a year are begging state officials to loosen restrictions, but California says it’s waiting for federal guidance. Meanwhile, experts say the harm caused by prolonged isolation outweighs the risk of spreading the virus. When Karen Klink celebrated her mother’s 86th birthday through the glass door of a Redondo Beach memory care home, she noticed a “deterioration in her enthusiasm and wanting to talk and interact. We all came home and cried because it was a really difficult way to celebrate someone’s birthday.”

  • Geriatrician Dr. Mike Wasserman: “I’m having trouble understanding, as residents get vaccinated, how we cannot give them the full rights they deserve as human beings, and that includes visitation.”

2. State of California’s publicly held companies

Image via iStock

Less than half of California’s publicly traded companies have a woman on their board of directors, despite a state law requiring those firms to have at least one female director by the end of 2019, according to a report released Monday by Secretary of State Shirley Weber. The report found that 311 of 647 publicly traded companies had a woman director in 2020, up from 282 in 2019. But the numbers suggest that firms have a long way to go in order to comply with the law, which requires most companies to add more female directors by the end of 2021. Publicly traded companies are also required to have at least one director from an “underrepresented community” by the end of 2021, according to a bill Newsom signed into law last year.

Another interesting nugget in Weber’s report: 22 publicly held companies moved their headquarters from California to another state in 2020, while 6 out-of-state companies moved their headquarters into California. Rumors of a mass California exodus have intensified amid the pandemic and record-low population growth, though recent data from the U.S. Postal Service shows that the vast majority of residents who left the Bay Area in 2020 moved to other California counties.

3. LA can collect scooter location data

A Lime-S electric scooter leans against a fire hydrant in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 7, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Los Angeles can collect location data from electric scooters, a federal judge ruled Feb. 23 — paving the way for the city to expand the controversial tracking system to its taxi industry and to ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft who do business at the airport, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The judge dismissed “with prejudice” the lawsuit from the ACLU of Southern California, which argued the data could easily be used to pinpoint a specific person’s identity.

  • The ACLU: “Imagine a person who takes a scooter to a political protest. … That individual ride could be picked out of a haystack of data and handed over to the police, who would then know where the person ended their trip, where they started and the precise route they took.”

The judge acknowledged the “unprecedented breadth and scope of the city’s location data collection,” but suggested the issue “may be more appropriately addressed as a matter of public policy.” On Feb. 17, two assemblymembers introduced a bill that would only allow anonymized data collection for planning and safety purposes and prohibit it from being shared with outside contractors. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation opposed an identical bill introduced last year.

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CalMatters commentary

Protect the backbone of California’s economy: State lawmakers must provide immunity to restaurants and businesses for COVID-related claims, argues Andrew Gruel, CEO and executive chef of Slapfish.

Crossroads for climate policy: Astonishingly, the California Air Resources Board is being asked to expand carbon offsets despite their failure to reduce emissions quickly enough, writes Kathleen McAfee, an SFSU professor.

Other things worth your time

How did a home built for Japanese American seniors become the state’s deadliest nursing facility? // Los Angeles Times

California homeowners association: ‘Repaint that $23,000 garage door!’ // Mercury News

Oakland’s homelessness chief to leave after less than a year. // San Francisco Chronicle

No more urine tests: Proposed California law would end most workplace marijuana tests. // Sacramento Bee

$20 million suit says Bay Area school forced boys out for ‘blackface’ that was actually acne medication. // San Francisco Chronicle

California’s failure to diversify community college faculty tied to arcane state law. // EdSource

This tiny California city has been rocked by corruption scandals. Will charges bring change? // Los Angeles Times

People from across the country are funding the Newsom recall. // Sacramento Bee

Lawsuit looks to block dismantlement of San Onofre nuclear plant. // San Diego Union-Tribune

See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...