After new cases of the coronavirus and hospitalizations in Alameda County surged in mid-August, the county appears to be again bending the curve. On Tuesday, state health officials removed the county from the most restrictive purple tier, denoting widespread risk of the virus, to the red tier, describing substantial risk.

But don’t expect any change in the county’s current orders. Alameda County health officials said on Tuesday they will use the next two weeks to assess whether the gains realized recently are maintained.

“As with all other re-openings, it will be important for Alameda County to take a measured and phased approach to avoid dramatic increases in disease transmission and re-closures,” county health officials said.

One of the activities allowed for counties in the red tier is the re-opening of in-person classrooms. However, counties must remain in the red tier for at least two weeks before they can consider reopening plans.

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Karen Monroe was cautiously optimistic about the move to the red tier, while raising questions about the efficacy of reopening classrooms on Tuesday. 

“This status change for our county will undoubtedly raise questions and pose challenges for families, school employees and community members. While moving into the Red Tier is a positive development, the re-opening of schools continues to require significant planning and preparation efforts for our schools and districts,” Monroe said.

Any reopening plan for schools is likely to include covid-19 testing and contact tracing for teachers and school employees. As seen recently at the Oakland Unified School District, many teachers unions in Alameda County have raised strong concerns about the safety of their members and workplace rules during the pandemic.