Ocean Beach City Council – COVID is still affecting services in Ocean Beach


Ocean Beach has a new librarian, but not enough staff to open its library.

Police officers assigned to specialist units have been asked to help field radio calls as too many frenzied cops are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID protocols.

Ocean Beach Elementary is currently able to place an educator in each classroom, but officials are concerned about placing students without a teacher in a study room or assigning them to other classrooms at the should the staffing shortage worsen.

It seems the COVID pandemic in Ocean Beach, like everywhere else, is far from over. And citizens who tuned in on Jan. 26 for the monthly Ocean Beach City Council meeting had an ear of real-life examples highlighting this point.

The OBTC holds annual elections around this time of year, and a candidates’ forum is usually the featured event in January. But each monthly meeting also includes standing invitations to political representatives and community leaders to share news, and pandemic updates can overshadow other agenda items.

Additionally, this year’s election proved to be a bit of a yawner, drawing only seven candidates for the seven openings on the 15-member council.

Over 100 on COVID leave at SDPD

San Diego Police Department West Division community services officer David Surwilo said more than 100 members of the police force remain on COVID leave — but at least that’s down two-thirds from his recent peak.

“You can imagine that kind of impact on staff would be quite dramatic,” Surwilo said. “We are working to resolve some of our personnel issues in the field by recruiting units into specialist units to help even more with patrol radio calls.”

The future of police staffing is further clouded by the hundreds of employees who have applied for vaccination waivers. The status of those requests has not yet been judged, Surwilo said, in response to a chat room request for more information on the COVID situation.

City employees who do not receive vaccinations or a waiver will be fired, according to an ordinance passed by the city council last year.

Surwilo, who shared that he is vaccinated and fortified and sees “the value of it,” said he is also aware of officers filing requests with other law enforcement that do not require vaccination.

Enrollments could dip below 400 at OBE

Ocean Beach Elementary Principal Marco Drapeau said he’s been “very lucky” because so far in 2022 no student has been sent to a study hall or a another class due to a lack of teachers.

“Since we came back from winter break, we have had a certified teaching staff member in every classroom,” said Drapeau. “It’s very different in middle school and high school – we count our blessings.”

But a recent enrollment estimate from the school district’s demographer added to his concerns. Only 396 students are expected to enroll for the 2022-23 school year, Drapeau said.

“We’ve never been thrown this low in the eight years I’ve been here,” he said.

What effect this might have on staffing is unclear. Such a low headcount could force a reduction in the number of teachers employed at the school, currently at 18. However, the cuts may not materialize if there is flexibility in light of the pandemic, said Drapeau. .

Library open in the spring?

At the start of the pandemic, all 36 municipal libraries were closed. After a few months, the city launched contactless pickup services, which eventually expanded to more than half of all branches. In-person services resumed at some branches in October 2020 and now include most libraries, according to the city’s website. Today, only three branches remain completely closed, and Ocean Beach is one of them. It still has no plans to open in the immediate future, said new librarian Christy Rickey Meister, who took over this year.

“We just don’t have the staff,” Rickey Meister said.

Meanwhile, Rickey Meister said she’s getting to know the library’s expansion plans, among other things. Although the OB branch is closed to in-person services, the book drop is open and assistance is available by phone, according to the city’s website.

Hiring is underway, but it will be at least “a few more months before we can think about opening,” she said.

It won’t be too soon for Rickey Meister. “We are really looking forward to getting back to serving the community,” she said.

In other news:

  • As noted above, there was no suspense in this year’s OBTC trustee election, as the seven openings attracted just seven candidates — most, if not all of whom, were incumbents. . Nonetheless, all seven – Anna Firicano, Gregory Winter, Kimberly Harrell, Cameron Reid, Tony Cohen, Connor Harrington and Stephanie Logan – were on hand to give their campaign pitches. Online voting, restricted to OBTC members, took place from January 28 to February 4.
  • Four candidates for San Diego District 2 council have come forward: Daniel Smiechowski, Mandy Havlik, Linda Lukacs and Joel Day. The primary election for the office, currently held by Dr. Jennifer Campbell, is scheduled for June 7.
  • The city council will adjourn an upcoming meeting in memory of Willie Washington, longtime owner of Willie’s Shoe Shine at 4905 Newport Ave., Campbell’s aide Teddy Martinez said. Washington, an Ocean Beach businessman for nearly five decades, died Jan. 22.
  • The next meeting is scheduled for February 23 at 7 p.m. It’s unclear whether the meeting will take place in person, OBTC President Corey Bruins said. Online meetings have been archived at facebook.com/obtowncouncil.

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