SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced that San Francisco and other cities could soon allow in-person learning at their schools if they continue to show improvement in decreasing COVID-19 cases.

During a press conference, Newsom said that San Francisco is in a position to come off the COVID-19 watch list as soon as Thursday, which could pave the way to in-person schooling.

“It is likely that as early as tomorrow — though we’ll see as the numbers come in — that San Francisco will be added to that list [of counties coming off the monitoring list]. That is not the case today, but it looks as if they’re in a position to get off that monitoring list,” Newsom said.

San Francisco was placed on the list in mid-July as its case rate hit a state benchmark.

To be removed from the list, counties must meet state thresholds for their 14-day average case rate per 100,000 residents, 7-day average rate of positive tests, percent change in hospitalizations and availability of
ventilators and intensive care unit beds.

As of Wednesday, there were 40 counties on the state COVID-19 monitoring list. Santa Cruz County is the one other county in the greater Bay Area that has managed to get off the list.

The news came as Newsom reported that hospitalizations due to coronavirus were down 14% over two weeks across the state. The COVID-19 positivity rate is also down to 6.3% over last seven days and 6.6% over last 14 days.

“This is not a permanent state. We will see a decrease in the transmissions. We are seeing a decrease in the transmission of COVID-19. And we are doing everything to prepare for what many believe will be a second wave in the fall,” Newsom said.

Newsom also noted that San Diego and Placer counties recently came off the coronavirus watchlist. They may be able to reopen schools if they stay off the list for 14 days.

Later in the press conference, a reporter from the Associated Press asked Newsom about a school in Sacramento reclassifying its teachers as daycare workers so they can be considered essential workers and reopen the school. Newsom answered that “there’s over 1,000 school districts in this state and you’re going to see different approaches. You’re going to see people testing the boundaries of some of these state orders.”

But the governor reiterated that the majority of schools in California will only re-open if they follow state guidelines and their counties are able to stay off the monitoring list for 14 days straight.

“We want to keep our kids safe, we want to keep our professionals safe, our teachers safe,” Newsom said. “We look forward to getting everyone back into that environment. And the fastest way to do that is to abide by local health officer directives, abide by the science, abide by the overwhelming evidence not just here in the United States but around the rest of the world, to do it in a safe and responsible way.”

Newsom said that state officials must also consider the background rates of infection and community spread of the virus in terms of “how impactful that is to the activities at any school sites.”

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