By Julie Watts

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California released new guidance Monday on the waiver process that will allow elementary schools to apply to return to the classroom, even if they’re in counties on the state’s monitoring list.

However, the waivers are limited to transitional-kindergarten through sixth-grade classes, and not every elementary school or district will be eligible to apply.

In July, Governor Newsom announced that schools in counties on the state’s monitoring list could not return to in-person classes until the county was off the list for 14 days. Counties are added to the list if they have a 14-day case rate of more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.

Now, elementary schools in those counties can apply for a waiver to open in person. The threshold for school waivers is double the monitoring list threshold. Counties must have fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 people to even consider a waiver for in-person classes.

Right now, at least 22 counties on the state’s watch list meet those criteria. Some counties like Placer, Sacramento, Yolo and Yuba counties appear to be well below the 200-case threshold based on the state’s most recent watch list data.

County Cases Per 100,000
Placer 115.1
Sacramento 137.2
Yolo 146.2
Yuba 145.0
Sutter County 196.7
Stanislaus 332.6
San Joaquin 308.1

Others, like Sutter County, are right on the cusp to the 200-case limit. Many counties, like Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, are well above the waiver threshold so schools there couldn’t apply.

However, there is a caveat to all of these numbers. As of Tuesday, August 4th, the state’s watch list data included a notation that stated it was last updated on August 1st.

On Tuesday, we learned that technical issues may be causing under-reporting of coronavirus cases state-wide. So, it’s possible that some counties may have a higher 14-day case rate data once the numbers are updated.

According to county health officers, the state has said that no counties are coming on or off the watch list until the issue is resolved.

Between Yolo, Placer and Sacramento counties, CBS13 has learned that dozens of private and charter schools expressed interest in applying for waivers ahead of the guidance released Monday. The expectation is that more schools will apply.

However, even though many public schools had announced plans to offer at least part-time in-person learning in the fall, the counties tell us they had not heard from any public school districts as of Tuesday evening.

Julie Watts

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