Wednesday, September 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 29
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Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on September 8th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 28

Sanity shortage

By THE CANARY

We’ve got a teacher shortage, a nurse shortage, and a student shortage—as in fewer students in school. And if you can guess why, I’ll give you a gold star for effort. 

Yes! You’ve got it! You’ve been paying attention to the news! 

It’s because we aren’t having a shortage of COVID-19 cases. In fact, that number seems to radiate ever higher around these parts these days. 


The Santa Maria-Bonita School District has had 26 teachers and more than 100 students test positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year. Yes, they have to quarantine for 10 days. And you know who else has to quarantine for 10 days? Everyone who may have been exposed to those positive cases—whether they’ve got it or not. 

As Superintendent Luke Ontiveros puts it, multiply the positive number of cases by 10 and that’s how many teachers, students, and faculty can’t step foot on-site for a week and a half. That’s a lot of absentees! Coaches, principals, and staff members have filled in for missing teachers, because, guess what? There’s also a substitute shortage! 

Students get sent home with 10 days’ worth of assignments, and there’s no virtual learning available at the moment—so they’re on their own. So, what’s a parent who has to work and doesn’t have access to child care to do? What’s a student with minimal parent involvement to do? 

Hey, wait a minute! Were we unprepared??

We were. It’s obvious. How did our school districts not know this would happen? Our state hasn’t really done much to prepare them. Ontiveros had a brilliant idea to keep student butts in their seats: a modified quarantine. Those who were exposed to COVID-19 can mask up, get tested frequently, and attend in-person classes as long as those tests keep coming back negative. But, the district doesn’t have testing kits on-site to make that brilliant idea a reality. 

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise, and the number of nurses in local hospitals is not on the rise. A group of state legislators—including Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo)—sent a letter to the state Health and Human Services Agency asking for the state to let up on its nurse-to-patient ratio requirements. 

“This shortage threatens to impede our hospital systems’ ability to effectively treat patients in need of care,” the letter said. 

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center has 53 staff vacancies at the moment (half of which are nursing vacancies), Marian Regional Medical Center is having staff work a lot of extra hours and shifts, and Lompoc Valley Medical Center increased its dependence on traveling nurses by 50 percent. All of it costs money and impacts the quality of patient care. And all of it is an even larger physical and mental burden for our medical professionals to carry.

The more COVID-19 patients our hospitals have, the higher the likelihood somebody will get turned away—either because there isn’t a hospital bed or there isn’t the staff to care for them. 

You know what isn’t in short supply yet? Vaccines. 

And although they aren’t 100 percent effective against COVID-19 and the Delta variant, they are at least 90 percent more effective against the virus than not getting the vaccine. So there’s that.

The canary’s having a patience shortage. Send help to canary@santamariasun.com










Weekly Poll
What are the most important conversations to be having right now when it comes to policing?

We need to address how racial bias influences policing.
We should focus on funding the police so they can do their job.
Mental health is where our dollars need to go, both in and out of the police department.
As one Sept. 20 community input meeting attendee said,

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