tv ABC7 News Getting Answers ABC April 12, 2021 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT
building a better bay area, moving forward, finding solutions, this is abc7 news. >> hi, everybody back on the unlink into our daily program called getting answers. this is where we are asking experts your questions every day at 3:00, to get answers for you in real time, and today, we really do have a fully loaded lineup of guest is for you. first, we will be discussing the doxy network debate, top of mine as many people return to office. are employers even allowed to require vaccinations for their workers, and how might it work? plus, two bay area high schoolers just created a tool, to get rid of all of that heavy lifting, finding a vaccine appointment. all of it is free and it's easy as two simple steps.
first, it certainly does seem like california fully moving forward in getting the students back into the classroom. today, two of the biggest districts in the state were talking about san francisco unified and los angeles unified, both started to return to in person learning. after months of pretty intense back and forth, dozens of sf preschool and elementary schools opened their doors.thei. so, what lessons did we learn during this process, and where to go from here? joining us now is the california state superintendent of public schools, tony thurman. tony, always a pleasure having you on our sh >> good afternoon, thanks for having me on. >> okay, this has been such a long road, tony picked his return to school for sf usd and down in los angeles, such a battle. california was one of the last in the state to reopen schools, why on earth did it take so long here in san francisco, and really statewide? what ended up solving this, so we could get you today?
>> you know, you can look for many reasons, but i would point to these. if you think about where we were just a few months ago, in the winter, we had some of the highest rates of co-infection, so much so that many of our counties had absolutely no hospital bed capacity. we have suffered more than 60,000 deaths, and more than three half-million covid cases. we have been in a tough spot. but until recently, you know, where we have now been given clarity on how to use rapid covid testing and ventilation, and other resources to allow us to keep our schools safely open. all of that to say, we have a pathway now or how our schools can get open and stay open safely, and we are working with 1000 school districts across the state to do that. i think we are at 9000 out of 10,000 of our schools that either are open or are going to be open shortly. obviously things have really pivoted to different direction. >> tony, that certainly is the exciting news. before we continue on, i think people still want to know, why
did it take so long? you look at other states, which also had some very serious covid numbers, and they were able to open much sooner in some cases. >> people have a right to be frustrated. it's difficult. on a parent. i think about this too. i have to say, if you look at the complexity of our state, compared to other states, i'm grateful in our state, you know, our state continues to put forward precautions, whereas other states are being compared to, they have literally removed math mandates. i think that is reckless harmful. and with the variance we are seeing, especially the new variance out of england and other places, you know, many of those same states have now moved into, you know, positions of shutting down again? i literally was speaking with the governor of michigan. they literally have scottish shot school down for two weeks, because they are seeing dramatic spikes. i think the safesafesafe we are going, obviously it's taken a while, but with vaccines now, we didn't have
vaccine until recently, 400,000 educators have received the vaccine. we are accelerating and moving into a place where we can do more, to keep our schools open safely for in person instruction. >> not to mention here in san francisco, surely the criticism has been in part because of the renaming of 40 some odd schools, so a lot of people were frustrated that that took president for a while and took away from the vaccine issue. speaking of vaccine, let's talk about eligibility. very soon, this will be open to ages 16 and older, teens. you know, state law requires public school students receive the necessary vaccine, what is the plan for the covid-19 vaccine? >> yeah, it's exciting we will be seeing this week, anyone 16 and older, as you said, can get the vaccine. look, i know there are conversations taking place with the fda and the cdc, about being able to move vaccines to young people at a younger age, as young as 12, some have asked some of the manufacturers. and we are monitoring those, and certainly, i don't think it
would be possible to really get into a conversation about requiring the vaccine until we have heard from our top health and safety folks, if the vaccine can be provided to young people, in ways that are safe. so we are monitoring that and looking forward to hearing more about where we might go next. >> if i'm hearing this right, it seems too soon to make a call, more information is needed. >> the fact of the matter is, we are working with lots of adults to help them get comfortable with the idea of taking the vaccine. again, i want to be thoughtful and mindful about our young people. last week, i did a webinar to focus on how we get more vaccines in the latino community, how do we get past fears on wednesday of doing a similar webinar, focusing vaccines in the african american community. i think there are people with concerns from all backgrounds, and we are trying to get a message out that vaccines are safe, you know, i took my vaccine, i'm proud to say, it was painless. it was, you know, quick. and i think we were in a place
now, where we are trying to help everybody see the benefits of vaccines. >> yeah, and here we are talking about student safety, faculty safety, but i do have to ask you about a developing situation, coming out of knoxville. multiple people shot at a local high school, including an officer there. obviously this is so far outside of your reach, but, you know, we have seen school shootings here in the state, the santa clarita being one recently, back in 2019. that was before the pandemic. what steps do you think you can take in that regard, to make the whole way safer for students, and parents? because now, not only are we thinking about the health safety aspect, but also, of mass incidents, such >> you know, it is so heartbreaking to learn about the shooting in knoxville, and obviously our hearts go out to those families and individuals who have been impacted. you know, as you say, even before the pandemic, we had been working with schools on ways to prevent shootings and, you know, we work with programs
like the mental health first- aid program, that train teachers and educators how to recognize someone who might be, you know, a threat, you know, because of what they are experiencing from a mental health crisis. we support, i support what president biden is calling for, in terms of, how do we get these guns off of our streets and out of these communities to executive order? he is hoping that we keep safe. in california, we have known for decades, if people buy guns and other states, where it's easier to buy guns without tracking them, then they literally drive them into neighborhoods, in california, you know, these guns are not being made in oakland and san francisco and los angeles. they are being driven. i support those laws that really help to get us more reasonable and responsible gun control, to keep everyone safe in our community. >> as we are asking our viewers to write in their questions for you, i want to pay that back to the cdc director saying, last week she doesn't foresee schools needing to close down again, out of safety for these new covid-19 variance. we talked about this a little bit earlier, but new research
shows they may spread in schools much more than we first thought. what is your id on this? like you mentioned, the last thing you want to do is have to reclose schools, like we have seen in other parts of the country. >> most important thing i can say is, folks have to continue to wear a face mask. and use social distancing. it is scary to hear that all these other states have, you know, utah, texas, all these places that have said you don't have to wear a mask, i think they are missing the point. even with the vaccine, a person can transmit covid, and so we have to be thoughtful about that. i think the research is mixed, but i trust what dr. fauci has said. dr. fauci has said, we are seeing cases plateau, but at a much higher rate than predicted, which tells us, there is a chance to potentially have to shut down again. i think we can control our own destiny. and that means wearing a face mask, using rapid covid test to have awareness, of who comes to a school, and the mighty a systematic and positive.
these kinds of things give us be a kind of awareness to allow us to keep our schools open and safe. if we all do our part, i believe we can continue to keep our schools open without a shutdown, even if those variance continue to proliferate in the u.s. >> yeah, seems like the protocols are strict for a reason. you know, can we talk about the social inequities in education? you touched upon this, when it came to getting vaccinated. we have covered extensively here at kgo abc7, how minority publishes are having a hard time getting the vaccine . you know, can we talk about that, in reference to distance learning, access to the internet, parents working multiple jobs, how is your office also working to solve this on a state level? >> that's actually a good question. you know, i'm grateful, this was a system that had the movement to distance learning overnight. you know, our system wasn't built for that. that also means, we uncovered
going into the pandemic, almost 1 million kids without access to high-speed internet. and many without computers. so, even though many of our teachers and educators have really leaned on our students and our parents have been resilient, i'm grateful to students and parents, people have leaned in to try to make the learning work. there have been unavoidable bumps, and the same gaps in learning that we have been trying to close, we always call the achievement gap, many of these gaps have been exacerbated during the pandemic. so we have got to work to offset those gaps. what we are doing is working to get resources to our schools for more tutoring, for summer programs, afterschool programs, training for educators, these are the things we believe would be helpful. right now, i've got a group that is working with educators across the state, to develop more strategies for offsetting these learning gaps come in the way that i just talked about. >> grow quickly, i know we have had to break, can we talk grow quickly about the mental health side of things? this has been such a challenging process for kids,
the isolation, the mental health challenges of having to be in front of a screen all day long for more than a year, what is being addressed in the classroom, to help that transition? >> i think the number one thing we should be looking at as students are returning to campus right now is, what is there mental health, you know, functioning levels? where do they need support? this is so different. they've been away for a year. many of them have lacked direct contact with students and peers. right now, we are working to expand on health programs, including medi-cal and others, to have more counseling support. i have a statewide mental health coalition working with psychologists and others, to support our students. our students social emotional well-being is number one thing we should be paying attention to right now, and how to support our students, and we are doing it. >> boy, you have a full plate, i do not envy your job whatsoever. thank you so much for taking the time, california state superintendent of public schools tony thurman, thank you. >> glad to do the job, thank you for having me on and for getting the message out about
how we can support our students and families, take care. >> i'm sure we will have to check in with you very soon, take care as well. as our students return to school, adults also getting back into the office, some are choosing to require proof of vaccinations while others will not. so the question stands, what will it look like for our future workplace? an expert is joining us in just a moment. we are
fremont unified school board didn't look out for the kids and teachers. carol wants to say, get vaccinated, start living again. we are about five seconds away, here we go with our next guest. all right, hi, everybody. welcome back. it is one of the biggest conversations happening, as more of the company country become vaccinated and returned to work, what exactly are employers allowed to do in reopening their office to workers? can they actually mandate employees to get a vaccine, or
force you to go into the office, if you don't want to? so joining us right now, to get a better idea of this changing workplace is jim brown, and plumbing and labor law attorney, and partner with duane morris llp in san francisco, thank you so much for being here. >> you are glad to share whatever thoughts i can share. >> yeah, this has been top of mind for some people, especially because salesforce just announced today, the very opening of its downtown san francisco offices, may. only for vaccinated workers, which is a little different because earlier, facebook and google announced they would not be mandating vaccinations, can employers be allowed to do this, mandate someone get a vaccine? seems to me like there are some ethical questions about it. >> you know, that's a topic that everyone's been looking at and from the letter of the law, employers are allowed to mandate the vaccine, assuming
that certain things are taken into consideration. first, obviously the vaccine needs to be available for the workforce to have the vaccine. number two, they need to take into account any serious health condition or medical reason a worker may suffer from that would prevent them from having the vaccine, and finally, they need to take into account any religious beliefs, where a person, because of religious reasons, doesn't want to take the vaccine. other than that, it is legal. other than that, it is legal, it's just a business decision, that is what everything everyone is talking about, i think. >> that's a question i had, if you do have a religious concern, does that play a role? that answers that question as well. you know, what about covid testing, once the workers go back? is there any guidelines, as to what employers need to provide,
for testing you mark which is different, certainly on the vaccine. >> certainly, whenever the employers reopen their office, they still have to comply with what they have done for the emergency standards, for the covid pandemic, and for reopening. that's not mandating testing, but complying with all of the social distancing, masking, and those types of workplace protections, if there is a certain level of covid positives that are in the workplace, then an employer is required to pay for testing for workers. >> can i ask you this? out of my own curiosity, because i have heard this come up time and time again. if someone contracts over 19, presumably on the job, can the employer then be held accountable, if there is no testing, or vaccine requirement? >> they certainly can.
if the, if the positive is something, just got a telemarketer call. if it is presumed to be in the workplace, the employer is potentially going to face a workers compensation claim, so absolutely, that is a concern. >> speaking of the employees as well, if an employer asks for that employee to return to the office full-time, but maybe him, you know, the employee is not comfortable going back, can that employee, can that workers say, hey, this is within my rights to stay home, or to continue this virtual workplace? >> no. from the letter of the law, if an employer has a policy, requiring folks returned to work, that's going to be an issue. but what most employers are doing is looking at the
business realities. if you have a workforce that is very concerned about returning to work, you have issues with childcare, that didn't exist before covid, you have issues with transportation to the office, that didn't exist before covid, those are realities the employer will have to take into consideration. we are seeing a lot of employees who are doing surveys, who identified a fear factor, if you will, about returning to the office, for practicality, such as childcare or transportation to the office. >> i think that is very fair, fear factor is the way to describe it. people have the varying level of comfort when it comes to returning to the office. i would like to wrap up by asking you about recovering from covid-19 vaccine symptoms? are there protections in place for workers who need to take some time off? >> certainly, to the extent that somebody has a reaction to a covid test, or actually needs to take time off for the test itself, in either instance,
there are sick leave obligations that an employer has to comply with, to help protect the worker. >> by the way, i think you are on your virtual home studio, i think i saw a dog walk in the background, is that right? >> that would be hugo. he gets to be on tv if he wants to. >> my dogs to tend to jump up on my lap when i'm very engrossed in the room with my employer's. i understand the feeling. unemployment and labor law attorney with duane morris llp in san francisco, always a pleasure, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, my pleasure. all right, when we return, instead of searching out for a vaccine appointment yourself, because i can be a headache, what if the vaccine appointment actually came to you? two bay area thinkers just made a possible, and they will be joining us next. make sure to get those
this is a story that we know all too well, searching for any open vaccine appointment for ourselves, or our parents, that is not easy. and it would make it even trickier, once california open vaccine eligibility, to those 16 and older later this week. two foster city high schoolers ran into this problem, they do have a fix though, and they have figured out how deliver it to you. joining us now are two guests, sam mendelson and daniels labor, the co-creators of kodak's sf. thank you so much for sharing this technology with us. i'm really looking forward to learning more about it. >> for sure, thank you for having us. >> great, let's start off by an explanation of what exactly the bot does. >> yeah, the bot automatically checks for covid vaccine appointments , via california my turn. it emulates everything that a human would do, up until
point where someone would actually book. it never returns any point is, it just checks to see if they are available. this way we don't spend all day checking, we don't take turns or anything, it's fully automated. we just get a ping and know when we are available to book. >> sam, this is such a great idea. i have friends who have tried days and days on end, trying to get an appointment. so that certainly takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. i'm curious as to how you created this wall, still in high school, juggling your classes. either of you can respond to this one. >> yeah, so luckily while we were making it, we were on spring break, so we had a little more extra time, but with the nature of distance learning, we have had a lot more spare time to work on projects like these. so, it was, we just had a lot of spare time laying around, to try to make an impact like this. >> i also love the fact that you guys were just on spring break, and i believe spring break is about a week, and you were able to whip up something so brilliant. let's do a little demonstration of how this all works, because
i'm curious to see it in action myself. we have our producer acting like it's his first time trying to sign up, walk us through the process, either one of you, daniel or sam. >> i will take this one. so all you need to do is create a twitter account, if you don't have one. if you do, log on in, @tran16 on twitter. once you follow it, a little bell icon will appear on the left, click on that, click on all tweets, and you are all set. that is it. we will get a no >> and sound so easy. right now, our producer is kind of walking us through it. it takes a couple of clicks. my question is, how much does the bot cost? i presume you want to make a profit of some sort. >> know, so we actually don't accept donations. although we do encourage anybody who is interested in supporting a cause to donate to a charity that is helping for covid-19 relief, or a charity
just like molding the next generation of changemakers, like girls who hold code or code club. >> the great renovation, they can get excited about this type of, you know, project.know, pro. you know, do you have any personal experiences come as to why you wanted to create this? did you see your own families, perhaps, struggling with getting an appointment? >> yeah, both of our parents were, like they were checking every few hours, but they both work full-time jobs and just did not have time to, you know, sit there and check again and again and again. so we thought, you know, we could save them time and as we built it, they were like hey, our friends would really like this, our friends really like this. just expanded so large that we couldn't really, you know, tell people manually, we had to come up with some type of automated notification system. >> okay, so once again,
covaxsf. i encourage everyone to check it out on twitter and give them a follow if you would like. to the both of you, not only thank you, but i'm really excited to see how this all plays out, hopefully the feedback has been good. >> yeah, the feedback has been amazing, we had a lot of comments saying people got their vaccines, they made vaccines for the parents, their grandparents, we just had overall amazing feedback. >> oh, that is great. the conversation with daniel and sam
answering all your questions. the bay area's top headlines are coming your way on abc7 news at 4:00. i will see you for that. until then, you can get the very latest news and weather wh tonight, the police body cam and what authorities are now saying after the deadly police shooting of a young black driver outside minneapolis. authorities say the officer mistook her handgun for a taser. police releasing the video 24 hours after the shooting. daunte wright seen struggling with officers, trying to get back into his car. the officer is heard shouting, "i'll tase you you" then "taser, taser" then firing a single shot from her handgun instead. the police chief today calling the shooting, kwoeshgts an accidental discharge. the family tonight outraged. a curfew now in place following protests and clashes with police. and what's now happened to the officer. just miles away, the trial of former officer derek chauvin today in the death of george floyd. emoti emotional testimony from george