By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento County got the green light to move to the red tier on Tuesday. The move provides hope for businesses ready to move at least some of their customers inside, while also providing a countdown for schools to think about partially reopening in person.

A number of places can now partially reopen indoors, including places of worship, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms. This big move was welcome news to Lindy Hobbs, one of the owners of P2O Hot Pilates and Fitness. Her midtown location is currently under construction inside, but she hopes to be able to open it as soon as next week. The Exposition location, she said, will open inside on Wednesday.

“There’s ones that have been begging for us to get back indoors,” Hobbs said.

Many of her clients have been working out in an outdoor oasis built in a parking lot; while others have been utilizing online classes. She’s excited to bring some of them back indoors.

“Just taking mental health into consideration,” Hobbs said. “I think it’s really important for us to get back to some sort of normal.”

This is one step close to normalcy. As of Tuesday, restaurants like Zocalo in midtown can now serve inside at 25% capacity.

“It’s a relief. This has been a challenge all year,” said Ryan Rose, president of Zocalo.

He emphasized the importance of bringing business inside, especially as smoky skies from fires filter back into Sacramento.

“If you have something like fire coming back in and the ash – it just makes sense to be back inside,” Rose said.

He’s hoping to bring diners in as soon as he can after seeing what it looks like at his Roseville location.

“To get people back in our restaurants is exciting because that’s what they’re built for,” he said.

But it’s not just restaurants and gyms that can reopen, too. Moving into the red tier begins the countdown clock to a possible reopening of schools in person. Sacramento County must prove it can stay in the red tier, with a low number of cases and a positivity rate under 8%, for two weeks in order to reopen. That would mean it could be possible to reopen schools in person as soon as October 13.

CBS13 reached out to every district in Sacramento County asking what their plans to return look like. Every district that replied said they’re in the planning phase with no set start date. Though this is a big deal for some families as they anxiously await the moment their kids can hit the books again, in person.

Watch: Sacramento Students Gear Up For In-Person Learning

Tuesday’s news was hopeful for parents like Rebekah Grivas and her daughter, Rowan. Grivas is eager for a return for her little one.

“Distance learning is not easy,” Grivas said. “She just turned 5 in September.”

Her daughter is a student in the San Juan Unified District, which said they plan to discuss reopening plans at a mid-October board meeting and plan to give parents a two week heads up before beginning in person.

Sacramento City Unified School District said they know they could potentially reopen October 13, but emphasize that’s not a hard deadline.

At Sacramento’s largest school district, Elk Grove Unified, these conversations of returning are already in the works.

“Safety is going to be the first thing we’re going to look at,” said Xanthi Pinkerton, a spokesperson for the district.

The district said they already have PPE secured and new sanitation protocols ready, but they also recognize not everyone may feel safe going back.

“We have some parents who may still want to do distance learning,” Pinkerton said.

The district is in the midst of figuring out that balancing act of how to ditch distance learning for some, while still accommodating online options for others. The clock is only starting to tick for schools and parents like Grivas, who’s anxious to send her daughter to the classroom.

“As long as they’re taking the proper precautions – why not?” Grivas said.

Most districts explained their first priority will be bringing students who are in need of special services back on campus. How things will look, though, will be more clear as plans are discussed at board meetings in mid-October.

Heather Janssen

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