Half Moon Bay Review - September 9, 2020

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September 9, 2020



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Cal Fire: Regional strategy helped, but work remains FUEL MANAGEMENT SPARKS DEBATE By Sarah Wright

Adam Pardee / Review

A Red Flag Warning indicating increased fire danger remains in effect for much of the Santa Cruz Mountains today. High temperature, dry air and gusty wind leave conditions ripe for dangerous wildfire.

Reading Cal Fire’s 2018 Community Wildfire Protection Plan is like encountering a prophecy. Some of the areas highlighted as high risk are exactly those devastated by the CZU August Lightning Complex fire that is now mostly contained but still smoldering. It warned of “un-

characteristically high fuel loads” and that a fire could “rapidly increase to an unmanageable size prior to the arrival of fire crews.” Even its prediction about thinly spread resources was spot on: “In the event of a large wildfire, we know there are not enough emergency responders and equipment to protect each and every home,” the report reads. Local fire response and preparedness agencies say their regional approach to fire mitigation has aided firefighting efforts in the battle against the raging inferno that ignited swaths of forest and destroyed communities in Santa

Cruz and San Mateo counties. But their leaders agree that more work is needed to prevent historic wildfires in the future. “As catastrophic as this fire was, it could have been worse,” said San Mateo Resource Conservation District Executive Director Kellyx Nelson, who helped prepare the 2018 report. In January, the RCD received $5.3 million in grants to reduce wildfire fuel loads in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but work wasn’t scheduled to begin until January 2021. Nelson said See FIREa 6A

[ education ]

[ public safety ]

Sheriff reports drop in activity VIRUS MEANS FEWER CALLS FOR SERVICE By Vanessa Ochavillo

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office reports that calls on the coast were down precipitously in recent months, a trend officials attribute to the ongoing pandemic. In his annual appearance before Half Moon Bay City Council, Sheriff’s Capt. Saul Lopez of the Half Moon Bay and Coastside patrol bureau shared trends in deputies’ responses to calls and arrests made between July 2019 and June 2020. The presentation came a year after the city renewed its contract with the Sheriff’s Office. See SHERIFFa 6A Adam Pardee / Review

Suri Ayala, center, and Reynaldo Torres, left, attend socially distanced classes at Cunha Intermediate School last week. The sessions are hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside.

Boys and Girls Club brings students together by keeping them apart SUPERVISED PROGRAM OFFERS EDUCATIONAL, SOCIAL SUPPORT By Sarah Wright

Fatima Santos was already nervous to start the sixth grade and the idea of remote learning made it even worse. But after her first day at the

Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside’s supervised remote learning program with her sister Suri, she knew this year would be a success. “At home, it was just us and we already know each other, and I was really sad the whole time,” Santos said. “But here, you get to meet new people. The whole classroom is so fun.” After state and county health rules shut down classrooms for the start of the school year, it seemed that inperson school might be a thing of the past. But some Coastside kids

like Fatima are getting the closest thing to it. The Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside is going on its third week of hosting Cabrillo Unified School District students for remote learning at Cunha Intermediate School and Half Moon Bay High School. On Monday, the four rooms in use were silent as students worked, headphones on and focused in on their school-issued Chromebooks. A few were doing jumping jacks and pushups outside for P.E. class.

BGCC Executive Director Jill Jacobson said the program has been a success so far, with students assigned to static pods of seven coming to set classrooms on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Once there, they complete their schoolwork in a quiet, supervised space. At $115 per month, with financial aid available, it’s an affordable option for many families during the pandemic. When the students arrive, they fill See CLUBa 6A

[ education ]

Coastside private schools prepare for return to in-person learning WILKINSON, SEA CREST GRANTED WAIVERS By Sarah Wright

Wilkinson School in El Granada and Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay both received waivers this week allowing them to open their doors

for in-person learning. Kindergarten through secondgrade students will return to Sea Crest’s campus the week of Sept. 14, with third- through fifth-graders returning the following week, Head of School Lauren Miller said. Marketing and Community Engagement Manager Isabel Mason said Wilkinson plans to reopen as soon as Sept. 10, but intends to bring back only kindergarten and

first-grade students for now. Mason said the school may eventually bring older elementary school students back as well, but would first consult with families and staff. The waiver is from San Mateo County, which announced it would allow elementary schools to reopen their classrooms if they meet a strict set of safety criteria and are approved by the county office of education, county health department and Cali-

fornia Department of Public Health. Miller said the process of applying for a waiver was rigorous and the school’s responses were heavily vetted through the county and state, requiring extensive documentation of safety protocols and cohort plans. She said she feels much more confident in reopening safely under these guidelines than if the county were to See SCHOOLSa 6A

[ education ]

Students struggle with distance, social isolation LOCAL EDUCATORS WORK TO ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES By Sarah Wright

New studies are showing young people are in a mental health “crisis” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Coastside students aren’t immune. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last month that 1 in 4 young adults seriously considered suicide over the summer and recommends parents talk to their kids about the COVID-19 outbreak to help reduce stress. Cunha Intermediate School Counselor JanSee HEALTHa 6A

Mental health resources

t To get immediate help in a crisis, call 911 or the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-9855990 (press 2 for Spanish). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 in English and 1-888-628-9454 in Spanish. More resources are available online at https://www. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

Editorial a 7A | Weather a 4A | Police Log a 4A | Books a 8A | Sports a 10A | Real Estate a 1B | Classifieds a 6B

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