Friday, 14 June 2024


Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – With COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out locally, nationally and globally, I think we’re seeing a light at the end of this very long pandemic tunnel.

Ironically, when the end is in sight it can be even harder to hold on, to keep wearing masks and social distancing, but we need to for however long it takes until it is safe.

I know a lot of folks really want their kids back in school, both because that’s where students learn best and because when kids are in school, parents can return to work.

Every educator I know agrees that students would be better served with in-person instruction, but we have to do so safely.

To that end, the California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, released updated guidance to let schools know when and how we can reopen on Jan. 14.

Visit the California Safe Schools for All website and download the “COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California,
2020-2021 School Year” here.

Otherwise, here’s what you need to know for Kelseyville schools.

Adjusted case rate

You may be familiar with the COVID risk tiers (yellow, orange, red and purple), but now there’s another threshold. When counties have an adjusted case rate (a rolling seven-day average) of more than 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, schools are not allowed to reopen, even with a waiver.

Lake County has been sitting around 46 cases per 100,000, so we’ve got work to do if we want to reopen our schools.

You can track Lake County’s adjusted case rate online at, then scroll down to the map and click on our county to see where we stand.


When the pandemic first hit, we didn’t know how the virus spread. Schools disinfected high-touch areas several times a day, hoping to decrease the risk of infection.

Overuse of disinfection can pose a health risk to children due to the chemicals used and has proven to have limited to no impact on COVID19 transmission, so the state recommends we focus on the following safety measures:

– Face coverings;
– Stable groups;
– Physical distancing;
– Adequate ventilation;
– Hand hygiene.

Symptom and close contact exposure screening, with exclusion from school for staff or students with symptoms or with confirmed close contact

Surveillance or screening testing

When we return to in-person instruction, we’ll use a phased or “hybrid” approach at the beginning, so we have fewer students on campus at any given time. Distance learning will be available to all students who want to continue in that educational model.

COVID vaccines and testing

Two important ways to get us back into the classroom and to keep us safe once we’re there are vaccination and testing.

At Kelseyville Unified, we continue to work closely with the Lake County Public Health Department to provide the vaccine to all school staff who want it, prioritizing those who work directly with students and those who are at higher risk for serious complications from a COVID-19 infection.

All Kelseyville Unified employees who elected to receive the vaccine will be vaccinated within the next four weeks.

Once we’re back in the classroom, COVID testing for staff will take place based on Lake County’s COVID tier.

When we first return to in-person instruction, if we have an adjusted case rate higher than 14 cases per 100,000, the governor wants us to do weekly surveillance testing in addition to symptomatic and response testing.

Otherwise, when we’re in the purple and red tiers, the governor recommends surveillance testing every two weeks in addition to symptomatic and response testing.

Once we’re in the orange and yellow tiers, we’d move to only symptomatic and response testing.


According to CDPH and the governor’s guidelines, the first hurdle to reopening schools is submitting our COVID-19 safety plans to the state and county Public Health departments.

Then, once Lake County drops below a COVID positivity rate of 25 cases per 100,000 and our safety plans are approved, the first schools to be allowed to open will be our elementary schools in a hybrid model.

Once the county reaches the red tier, we will move to reopen schools for all grades in a hybrid model. Hopefully, through staff vaccinations, low positivity rates in the county, and following our safety plans, we will be able to open soon.

Some good news

As you can imagine, reopening schools safely is expensive. President Biden and Gov. Newsom have proposed additional funding for education that could help us a lot.

All in all, I think things are finally moving in the right direction.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – On Dec. 14, three new Kelseyville Unified School District Board members will be sworn in.

Please join me in welcoming Natalie Higley, Gilbert Rangel and Mary Beth Mosko. I will miss our previous board members, Taja Odom, Gary Olson and Beniakim Cromwell. Thanks to all of you for your service.

The role of a school board member is to help set the vision for the school district as well as providing financial oversight of taxpayer dollars.

The five core responsibilities of the Kelseyville Unified school board are to: 1.) Set overall direction; 2.) Ensure we have an effective and efficient structure; 3.) Provide support; 4.) Ensure accountability; and 5.) Advocate for children, the district and public schools when interacting with the public.

Because authority is granted to the board as a whole, not each member individually, board members fulfill these responsibilities by working together as a governance team with the superintendent to make decisions that will best serve all the students in the community.

Natalie Higley

Natalie Higley is a proud graduate of Kelseyville Unified schools, having graduated in 2011 from Kelseyville High School.

After graduation, she became civically involved both locally and statewide; she has served two terms as an Assembly District 4 delegate to the California Democratic Party representing Lake County. Natalie later became actively involved in the Lake County Democratic Central Committee, as well as multiple statewide organizations representing rural and progressive values.

She is currently employed as the political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 551 and serves as a delegate to the North Bay Central Labor Council.

As a single mother, she believes she understands how challenging educational delivery can be for both school districts and parents during a pandemic.

Natalie hopes to bring both a compassionate and a science-based perspective to the Kelseyville Unified board and looks forward to working with her colleagues to move the district forward.

Gilbert Rangel

Gilbert Rangel has spent 20 years of his career in education, youth development and community service in both the nonprofit and government sectors. He brings a unique perspective, having been educated in both Mexico and the United States.

He attended elementary and middle school in Mexico, high school here in the US, and then studied business at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. He is bilingual and bicultural, and he feels his background provides him with meaningful insight into the importance of universal access to education and equal opportunity for students of all walks of life.

He currently serves as the director for the Lake County AmeriCorps program which focuses on empowering students in achieving a successful education. Other community service experience includes having served under the administrations of Gov. Schwarzenegger and Gov. Brown to develop AmeriCorps community programming across different California communities.

Mary Beth Mosko

As the mother of a freshman at Kelseyville High School, Mary Beth Mosko says she is motivated to work with board members, administrators, teachers and members of the community to provide children with a quality education. She believes excellent schools not only benefit students but the entire community.

She said, “Great schools provide Kelseyville with the skilled workforce, business leaders, and entrepreneurs necessary to thrive as a community.”

Having double-majored in psychology and sociology at Roanoke College, she appreciates the value of a quality education and she has put that appreciation to work, as evidenced by her volunteer work as a tutor for military veterans returning to school after deployment.

She says she hopes to engage and inspire our community to support our schools and provide an excellent education for all. Some areas of particular interest include seeking additional funding streams, promoting summer programs in math and reading, providing for disadvantaged students, and increasing parent engagement.

As a reminder, board meetings are public and everyone is invited. For more information, visit our website at and click on the District menu to find the Board of Education page.

Dave McQueen is the superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

This has been a year of disruption. Eight months of restricted activities have all of us longing for normalcy. Giving up treasured holiday traditions has been particularly painful for many.

Despite our fatigue and frustration, we MUST keep the long view in mind this Thanksgiving. Increases in cases have regularly followed holidays that bring extended families and other cross-household groups together.

If that happens again, local healthcare resources will be strained, and Lake County probably will extend well into the Purple Tier of the state’s Blueprint to a Safer Economy and face greater business restrictions for a considerable period, perhaps months.

In-person gatherings across households are not recommended. If you do gather:

– Stay outside, and be vigilant with sanitation if people must go inside to use restrooms.
– No greater than three households.
– Keep it short – two hours or less.

Traveling out of the area, or having out-of-area family and friends come to visit you, is also not a good idea this year.

The State advises a 14-day self-quarantine on return for those traveling out of state, and any non-essential travel carries risk. If you must travel, precautions should be strongly emphasized:

– Masking while indoors;
– Staying away from others when ill;
– Social distancing;
– Proper disinfection.

This is not a normal year. Many people customarily travel to other parts of the state, or out of the country, to see family. Some people travel to other areas for work. We strongly encourage people to think twice before doing so.

Dr. Gary Pace, MD, MPH, is Public Health officer for Lake County, California.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Winter is a time for slowing down. Like the seed underground, we also need time for storing up and conserving energy.

We have moved from the fall, of leaves falling and the season of release and letting go, to receiving the time of winter, the most Yin time of year, a time of rest, stillness, and replenishment of our deepest resources.

It is the time for the roots to grow deeper underground, to support growth for the coming spring.

In Chinese Medicine the Winter Season is the phase of the Water Element.

Water is about our ability to flow and to overcome obstacles. To understand the attributes of water in ourselves think of the many ways water presents itself in nature. Our water energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, a gentle rain.

Water is a transformative substance. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and ‘be’ in our Water energy, we allow a transformative process to occur.

The body/physical gift of Water Element is rest, solitude, to re-balance and replenish our reserves. When we have enough reserves, we have strength, drive and ambition to reach our fullest potential.

We can manage our physical energy in a balanced way, not overdoing or being fearful of taking risks and trying new things.

The mind/emotional gift of water is trust, faith, courage, and the renewal of our self-essence and blueprint for our lives. What if we are out of balance? We can feel fear, anxiety, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of water is the will, to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition, and tap into our creative, internal energy to manifest who we are. The Water Element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our self, and to grow ‘roots’ that anchor ourselves in who we are.

Keys to staying balanced in the winter season

Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve your energy in the colder, darker months.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape. Take care of yourself, take a soothing bath or a hot foot soak. If you can, get a massage or an Acupuncture treatment to stay balanced.

Discover more about yourself through reflection, being more aware of your senses, paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.

Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates.

Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multi-minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, and Bengal Spice. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Try dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale and bok choy.

Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard this time of year, try to have less sugar and dairy, as they will deplete your immune system.

Drink plenty of good quality water.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to not let the cold wind enter your body, as this is what can cause colds and flus. Cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys and your reserves of energy.

We are especially reminded during this COVID-19 pandemic to practice preventative health measures to maintain our strength and resilience, and to keep our immune system strong.

This is the wisdom of water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, staying rooted to one’s essence.

Spring always follows winter. We don’t know what that will look like, yet if we have followed nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in spring with restored, vibrant energy, a clear vision and a more rooted sense of purpose in our life.

Wendy Weiss has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for 29 years. She can be reached for more information on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at 707-277-0891.

Ruth Ziemer, Brenda Hooper’s mother, died this summer in New York state of COVID-19. Courtesy photo.

My mother and I had 70 years together.

She taught me how to have faith, how to laugh and smile, how to work through sadness. She showed me what prejudice looks like, the importance of always telling the truth.

My mother taught me how to love. I have so many wonderful memories of her, but my favorite goes back to when I was in third grade.

My elementary school always had a Halloween party, but that year I didn’t want to go, until, of course, the very last minute. My mother lovingly came to the rescue and suggested possible costumes. No, I didn’t want to be Casper the ghost and no I didn’t want to be a witch.

After much back and forth, my mother looked in the closet and pulled out a box. She put me into that box with only my head and legs outside of it. Then she gift-wrapped the box and put on a tag, “To: Mr. Towne,” the school principal.

She loaded me into the backseat of the car (lying down) and off we went to the school. After pulling me out of the car, we went in. When the third graders paraded across the stage, I found to my joy and dismay that I won. Needless to say, it was somewhat difficult to choose my prize from the huge bag of possibilities when my hands were stuck inside the box. That was my mom, always there for me.

But, I wasn’t there for my mother when she died of COVID-19. I couldn’t be as she was in a hospital in Syracuse, New York. I had to say goodbye to her via FaceTime. I had to attend her funeral via FaceTime.

No last kiss, no hug, no holding her hand. Just the lingering picture in my mind as the nurses removed her oxygen tube because there was nothing else to be done. I couldn’t be there for my stepfather either.

I have the photo above of my mother and a handblown glass heart with some of her ashes on the table next to my favorite reading chair. Sometimes I can barely look at it, my heart is so broken.

It continues to amaze me at the outpouring of sympathy and love I get, often from people I barely know. But at other times, I feel like I’m taking some kind of test to see how quickly I can get over this and I’m failing miserably. This is not about me or my mother, I know that millions of others have and will continue to go through this devastating process.

I’m increasingly concerned about Lake County’s lack of transparency regarding COVID-19. We originally got somewhat regular updates on the number of cases in Lake County; however, we now get very sporadic updates.

Counties across the United States are providing their residents with daily updates. It looks more and more like Lake County is trying to hide something by not keeping us informed.

All the experts are warning us that cases are going to be increasing with the onset of fall and winter. We are already at the point where cases in the United States are at the highest point since this pandemic began.

I am urging and requesting that the Board of Supervisors make this a priority so that we can stay informed and protect ourselves from this. I sent my supervisor, Rob Brown, a note about this, but predictably never received a response.

I will forever blame Trump for her death – his utter lack of any semblance of empathy and his complete ignorance. I see some of the very same issues in Lake County’s response to the pandemic.

There is no miracle and it is not going to just disappear anytime soon; however, it should be dealt with head-on rather than avoiding it. Hiding the facts from the community does us all a disservice. We deserve honesty from those in charge.

My mother was not just another person over 65 in assisted living with co-morbidities, Dr. Pace. She has a name – Ruth Ziemer.

I lost my mother to COVID-19 this summer and I truly don’t want to go through that again by losing another loved one. No one deserves that.

Brenda Hooper lives in Kelseyville, California.

Prior to the Valley fire in 2015, I had made a conscious decision to not seek a fifth term on the Board of Supervisors.

That all changed on Sept. 12 of that year when our county was thrown into a disaster like it had never seen before, and hopefully, will never see again.

After consulting with family, friends and an excellent candidate that had planned to run to replace my seat, we agreed that I would seek reelection in order to maintain some consistency in the immediate and future recovery.

We all worked hard to do the best we could, having never gone through this kind of event, at every level.

Last year, I decided once more, that I would retire from the board at the end of my term. I knew of a few candidates that might be willing to step in with new energy and ideas and I was excited about that prospect.

By then many folks had been involved in the recovery effort of this and several other disasters and the pool was full of highly qualified and motivated people that could easily take the reins.

First I would like to thank Bill Kearney for jumping into the race for no other reason than his love of Lake County. Bill could have easily chosen to enjoy his new-found retirement but he chose to be a voice for a hardworking group that shares that love of Lake County. I am grateful for people like Bill and Dana Kearney.

Most importantly I wish to congratulate and offer my support to Jessica Pyska, our newly elected District 5 supervisor.

Jessica has shown a commitment to our community that makes me proud to know her and, know that Lake County is in the very capable hands of someone that will work hard for all of the right reasons.

For those of you that supported candidate Pyska, please don’t stop there. She will need your support more than ever in the upcoming months and years.

For those of you that possibly did not show support for Supervisor-elect Pyska, I ask you to please give her the chance that she deserves in doing the job that she is about to embark upon.

She has all of the qualifications needed to represent all of us, not the least of which is that she has a good heart and she wants nothing less than the best for Lake County.

Rob Brown is the retiring District 5 supervisor for the Lake County Board of Supervisors. He lives in Kelseyville, California.


Upcoming Calendar

Flag Day
06.14.2024 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Clearlake Summer Concert Series
06.14.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Middletown Days team roping
06.14.2024 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
Senior Days
06.15.2024 8:00 am - 06.16.2024 1:00 am
Middletown Days
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.15.2024 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Art Center exhibit opening
Father's Day
06.16.2024 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Middletown Days

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.