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Onondaga County Requiring All School Staff To Get Tested For COVID-19 Weekly Or Get Vaccinated

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Syracuse City School District
Syracuse City School teachers will be just some of the education personnel in Onondaga County subject to the "Vaccination or Test" policy.

Onondaga County will implement a “vaccination or test” policy for all staff in schools within the county as COVID-19 cases increase. County Executive Ryan McMahon signed the Executive Order Tuesday, just before the start of a new school year. The order requires all employees at school buildings to show proof they’ve been vaccinated.

“So we want to encourage the vaccine for everybody, but if for whatever reason you’re not, we can’t take the risk of the virus getting into these buildings,” said McMahon. “This is too critical, and for our children under 12, they haven’t had the opportunity to get the vaccine shot yet.”

Right now, the County Health Department is building the infrastructure for the testing of school staff, extending to teacher’s aides, bus drivers, custodians, food service workers and grounds keepers.

“We’re going to put a layer of mitigation, the faculty and staff going back to school, getting a test whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated,” said McMahon. “Again, we expect cooperation from all of our partners. If we have to mandate that, we will.”

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John Smith
County Executive Ryan McMahon says people should be wearing masks in crowded, indoor spaces, but he won't issue a mandate.

As COVID cases increase, McMahon asked the public, “to do the right thing” by masking when going indoors, whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, and especially unvaccinated kids.

“Certainly in a crowded indoor setting, having the kids in masks is appropriate. And we know that as parents,” said McMahon. “I know some people disagree with that, but I think for the majority of people, we understand that. People should be taking those precautions at this point.”

He says he won’t issue a county-wide mask mandate because he feels the government shouldn’t have to tell people what to do in order to stay safe, and there’s no way for him to enforce it. McMahon also continues to encourage people to get vaccinated.