SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — Marin health officials announced Tuesday the county’s hopeful move to Tier 2 COVID-19 status by state officials will not happen at least until the end of the week.

Currently, the county is on Tier 1, the state’s most restrictive status.

“We want to move carefully and base our decisions on local data,” said Dr. Matt Willis, the County’s Health Officer. “We’re well prepared to move forward, but ultimately this is the state’s decision. In the new framework the state has a lot more control about what moves and what doesn’t.”

The delayed upgrade will placed several planned business reopening on hold including indoor personal care services; indoor dining; indoor gyms; movie theaters; indoor houses of worship and expanded capacity at indoor retail establishments and malls.

On August 28, the state introduced a four-tier framework by which counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations. Marin was placed in Tier 1, or purple status to notify “widespread” risk, for the most severe restrictions.

On Sept. 4, in consultation with California Department of Public Health, Marin County announced plans to move to Tier 2, or red status. But on Monday night, state health officials notified county officials that the upgrade was being delayed.

“This decision is a gut check for residents and businesses,” said Angela Nicholson, Assistant County Administrator and Director of Marin’s Emergency Operations Center. “We’ve been working together to flatten our curve. Every day we see the negative effect on the emotional and economic well being of our neighbors and community.”

Willis said smaller counties like Marin who are on the cusp of one tier and another are more vulnerable to slight changes in the case measurement process and small outbreaks.

“One cluster of cases in a facility leads to a clear spike in countywide case rates– these are some of the factors we’ll be discussing with the state,” Willis said. “We requested a review because if we don’t move forward yet, we want to make sure its for the right reasons.”

A final determination of Marin’s appeal was not anticipated before the end of the week.

However, the decision was not impacting the reopening of in-person learning at 15 county elementary schools with COVID-19 prevention measures in place. Willis approved their waiver applications last week allowing for in-person learning to begin as early as Tuesday as long as coronavirus infection rates continue to trend downward.

“We’re at a critical juncture, and our ability to get kids back into school is up to all of us,” Willis said.

The county granted waivers to these schools, their affected grades in parentheses:

  • All Children Academics (K-5), San Rafael
  • Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy (K-6), Marin City
  • Caulbridge School (K-6), San Rafael
  • Chronos Academy (K-6), San Anselmo
  • Laguna Elementary (K-6), Chileno Valley, West Marin
  • Lincoln Elementary (K-6), Hicks Valley, West Marin
  • Lycee Francais (K-6), Sausalito
  • Marin Waldorf (K-6), San Rafael
  • Mt. Tamalpais School (K-1), Mill Valley
  • New Village School (K-6), Sausalito
  • Northbridge Academy (2-6), Mill Valley
  • San Domenico School (K-6), San Anselmo
  • St. Anselm School, San Anselmo
  • Terra Marin (1-6), Mill Valley
  • Terra Micro Marin (K-6), Mill Valley

The schools not granted waivers can continue online learning programs for their students.

For more information about the county’s decisions for reopening schools as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, download the county’s guidelines.

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