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Onondaga County begins COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff

Onondaga County
A mobile testing site in Onondaga County.

Onondaga County’s COVID-19 mobile testing unit starts hitting local school districts this week. The back-to-school mobile testing will start with teachers and staff. 

Onondaga County has scheduled a district a day for the next few weeks. A mobile unit staffed by a physician will test district employees using rapid testing technology, so results will be available within 24 to 36 hours. Onondaga County will pay for any tests that are not covered by insurance, a cost that could reach at least $100,000. County Executive Ryan McMahon said once employees are cleared to enter school buildings, the next step is testing high school students.

"Why high schools? Because when we look at school age children, that’s where the cases are,” McMahon said. “Elementary-aged kids have not been impacted to date.”

McMahon said there have been only 26 COVID cases among elementary school children, all traced to family members, since testing began. During the school year, the county will undertake saliva pool testing in elementary schools to seek out any positive cases. McMahon said this kind of testing should allow districts to be confident their buildings are safe as kids return to school.

"This is very important to us as county government, knowing the back-to-school operation is done, really, in covering every base we can,” McMahon said. “I think we’ve done that and I think there isn’t another community in the state that has done as much as we have to ensure a successful school year.”

Employees must preregister for a test and can do so here.