The nonprofit, which since 2019 provided animal services to the city under a contract, faced a maelstrom of criticism last year after seven puppies died in its care in August 2021 as they were being transported from the Central Valley. The Redwood City-based nonprofit also has been in dispute with the city for more than a year about Palo Alto's failure to meet its commitment to construct new kennels, a key condition of their contract.
While the issue of new kennels remains unresolved, the two sides agreed last month to begin negotiations on a new deal that would keep Pets In Need in Palo Alto beyond its planned termination date of Nov. 15. Mayor Pat Burt also asked the nonprofit at the Feb. 14 meeting to delay its exit by six months to provide more time for negotiations.
On March 9, the Pets In Need board of directors voted to approve the six-month extension, according to a letter signed by Valerie McCarthy, who took over as interim executive director of Pets In Need following the abrupt resignation of its prior Executive Director Al Mollica in November. The extension moves the termination date to May 15, 2023.
The City Council is expected to approve the extension of the agreement this Monday.
If the council approves the amended notice, staff and Pets In Need will begin negotiating new agreement terms immediately, according to a report from the Community Services Department.
Second booster authorized for ages 50 and over
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people ages 50 and older and some immunocompromised individuals, the agency announced Tuesday.
The second booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine may be administered to people ages 12 and older with certain immunocompromised conditions at least four months after they have received a first booster dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can be offered as a second booster dose at least four months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine to people 18 years and older who are immunocompromised.
"Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals. Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals," Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the statement.
The FDA will continue to evaluate whether to authorize the potential use of a second booster dose in other age groups. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also approved the authorization on Tuesday.
Santa Clara County said that with the CDC's approval, the shots will be made available "immediately."
Ravenswood schools keep mask mandate in place
Ravenswood City School District students and staff will continue to wear their masks both indoors and outdoors until at least mid-April. This makes it the only district in the area that will still require masks next week.
The school board made the decision on March 24, after district staff gathered community feedback about whether to require masks on campuses over the last two weeks. COVID-19 case rates are higher within district boundaries than the rest of San Mateo County on average, but are one-third of what they were on March 10, according to a March 24 staff report.
Teachers union and classified staff leadership said they'd prefer to continue mask requirements for the rest of the school year, according to the report. District advisory committees, made up of district parents, staff and community leaders, said they would like to keep the indoor mask mandate until there is more information, the report states. The committees reported feeling comfortable with lifting the outdoor mask mandate.
Case rates in the Ravenswood district area are still higher than the county average but are significantly lower than they were when the district presented data to the board two weeks ago, said Ann Waterman Roy, the district's strategic pandemic recovery consultant. Since March 12, there have been just three COVID-19 cases districtwide on campus, as of March 24.
The Ravenswood board will revisit its masking policies again at a Thursday, April 14, meeting.
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