Chico Unified faces staffing and fatigue issues Inflation will raise District costs, but state funding may reach a high

This CUSD general fund graph compares projected cash flow for the coming academic year (red-dotted line) with the two previous years.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Aug. 1

Chico Unified School District is struggling to solve the staffing and fatigue problems plaguing schools across the nation — even with its coffers well-funded for the coming academic year.

Chico Unified Teachers Association President Kevin Moretti said teachers have been aided by smaller class sizes, block schedules at the high schools and more aides “when we can find them.”

However, new funding may not necessarily solve all staffing problems. Like many school districts across the country, Chico Unified has seen an increase in retirements and resignations during the pandemic. The district has raised the wages for lower-paid positions that are at a premium, like classroom aides and bus drivers. read more

Disinformation dampens enthusiasm for Covid vaccinations In Butte County, misinformation appears to affect case rates

This graph from Butte County Public Health’s Covid page shows the comparatively low vaccination rate as cases surged nationwide in recent months.

by Natalie Hanson
posted July 7

As California assesses the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, public health experts say they are concerned about managing future health emergencies after battling a disinformation crisis.

For the last two years, county public health departments have been tasked to respond to a pandemic unlike anything seen in decades. As guidance from the California Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for managing local crises shifted weekly, local departments like Butte County’s faced an enormous task of keeping the public informed using rapidly changing methods, including Facebook and YouTube – with mixed results. read more

School leaders in Chico work to reduce “unfinished learning” In wake of pandemic, experts suggest reform; Chapman employs community model

photo by Leslie Layton
Principal Mike Allen at Chapman Elementary just before opening bell.

by Natalie Hanson
posted March 23

As the pandemic disrupted Chico’s Chapman neighborhood, Chapman Elementary School Principal Mike Allen was one of several local school leaders known to knock on students’ doors and check on them, often with food in hand.

The schools were closed by state mandate with only online learning from March through August 2020, meaning that children missed seven months of in-person education. In October 2020, Chico Unified adopted a hybrid model. In August 2021, campuses fully opened to in-person learning. read more

Pandemic is costly — and often violent — for women worldwide Chico volunteers address inequities on a local level

photo courtesy of DSA
Alexandra Wynter (left) brings supplies to a Chico woman living in a homeless encampment.

by Lindajoy Fenley and Leslie Layton

Alexandra Wynter is feeling optimistic – even in the middle of a global pandemic that has made a difficult life even more difficult for many women.

As a volunteer coordinator for an outreach program run by Chico’s DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), the pandemic has given her an opportunity to build relationships with unhoused women — she prefers “unhoused” to the stigma attached to “homeless” — throughout the community whose lives have been made even more precarious by the COVID-19 crisis. read more

Ineligible for government relief, unauthorized workers suffer Nonprofits overwhelmed by need

photo courtesy of NorCal Resist
A volunteer for NorCal Resist delivers food to an immigrant family.

by Leslie Layton

Until disaster struck, Susana and her husband were employed by two Chico restaurants, supporting their three children by working in food preparation and dishwashing.

They paid social security and other taxes, but when the restaurants that employed them were closed two months ago as part of the state-mandated shelter-in-place, there was no government relief available for the family.

As undocumented immigrants, they were ineligible for unemployment insurance or a stimulus check. Financial assistance to undocumented immigrants nationwide – many of whom perform services deemed essential, and in doing so, are subject to possible virus exposure – has largely been left to grass-roots, charitable organizations that struggle to keep up with a deluge of requests for help. read more

Caravan to Butte County will assist immigrants Many will receive no relief from the government

photo courtesy of NorCal Resist

Sacramento-based NorCal Resist is asking for food and cash donations and gift cards for its May 16 Car Caravan to Butte County that will provide emergency pandemic assistance to immigrant families ineligible for government aid.

NorCal Resist organizer Autumn Gonzalez said many of the immigrant families that will be assisted with cash for rent or in other ways are Camp Fire survivors who contacted the organization’s hotline.

“We’ve had a lot of calls from Butte County,” Gonzalez said today. “It’s really sad because so many work all the time and pay into unemployment, and now aren’t working and aren’t able to collect unemployment. We’ve heard from people who say, ‘We have no food left and we’re down to our last $10.’” read more