Morning Report: The Reopening Is Upon Us

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Morning Report: The Reopening Is Upon Us

Visitors stroll through the Gaslamp area in downtown as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be scaled back. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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Next week marks the start of what you might call, in a voice dripping with reverb, the great reopening. All adults who didn’t previously qualify for a vaccine can get one starting April 15. That’s great news. 

But before you rent an aircraft carrier and dust off your trusty Mission Accomplished banner, keep one thing in mind. It’s all tentative, man. Gov. Gavin Newsom has cited June 15 as the date when pandemic restrictions will go away completely, assuming there are no major vaccine problems and hospitalizations remain low. 

As Scott Lewis explains in a new piece, state and county officials are trying to vaccinate people faster than the virus can mutate and spread. There’ve been spikes in other parts of the United States and in other countries recently. 

Obviously that’s a troubling development. New variants will inevitably arrive here, and some of the loosening of restrictions last year led to a spike in cases.

“The difference between now and then, though, is that 20 million people in California have had at least one dose of the vaccine,” Lewis writes. Officials are “prepared to win that race. A higher proportion of the people most vulnerable to losing the race — seniors and people with underlying medical complications — have been fully vaccinated.” 

As schools welcome back kids, and gyms and restaurants with bars welcome back bros, all eyes will be on the number of hospitalizations. 

New Ruling Has Big Implications for Small School Districts

A new ruling in the A3 charter school case – in which two ringleaders recently pleaded guilty to pocketing tens of millions of dollars in public funds – has helped to clarify just how much school districts can charge the charter schools they authorize.

Until now, a little-known Education Code provision has allowed school districts to collect up to 3 percent of the revenue from the charter schools they authorize. In some cases, that’s meant small school districts serving just a few hundred students have received more in fees than any other single source of revenue.

The new ruling says districts should only be taking as much money as it costs them to oversee the charter schools they authorize. For the A3 case, Will Huntberry reports six out of the eight districts that authorized A3, including San Diego County’s own Dehesa School District, will have to pay back a combined $1 million in fees that went above and beyond their costs.

Facial Rec App More Common Than We Knew

Clearview AI has been in the news a lot the past couple years. The Florida-based company was known for scraping billions of images online and then aggressively promoting its facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies.

Critics hailed it as the death of privacy when anyone, at any time, in any setting can be unmasked. In an interview with the New York Times, the company’s founder was weirdly blasé about the dystopian world he was on the verge of creating. 

Last year, NBC 7 reported that the San Diego Police Department and District Attorney’s Office had prohibited its personnel from again testing out Clearview AI’s technology as part of a free trial. 

Turns out San Diego police and prosecutors weren’t the only ones. Buzzfeed surveyed police departments across the county and published a database earlier this week showing that officers in Chula Vista and Escondido and on UC San Diego’s campus also took part in free trials. Other agencies might have as well. 

In 2020, California temporarily halted the use of facial recognition technology among police. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Megan Wood, and edited by Sara Libby.

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