Teachers, school staff getting tested for COVID-19: ‘It’s the right thing to do’
Teachers and school staff in Onondaga County have been getting tested for COVID-19 at some of the mobile test sites being brought to different school districts. The testing is voluntary and teachers say they’re going through it so it’s safe for them and students to return to school.
Jennifer Lockwood is a math teacher at the Lafayette Junior/Senior High School, where staff members are being tested in the gym for the coronavirus. She said the mouth swab was easy.
“I was hoping that was going to be it,” Lockwood said. “Then, they went in for the nose swab, which was uncomfortable but didn’t last long. It wasn’t painful, it was just uncomfortable.”
She was one of 120 staff members from the LaFayette and Onondaga school districts that got tested. She said it’s the right thing to do.
“I’m going to be around and exposed to so many children," Lockwood said. "It’s just better to know, have a baseline that we’re all virus free and that it’s safe to come back. I wanted to know that for my safety and I think it’s important for the community to feel safe sending their kids too.
Students are returning to in-person classes in the LaFayette School District, but more than 30 percent of students are going to be learning digitally, which is an option. Superintendent Jeremy Belfield said the next step is for students to get tested for the virus.
“We’ll be working with the county to conduct what’s called saliva pool testing, where groups of students and staff, they’ll have a saliva swab in pools of 12," Belfield said. "If that pool tests positive, then we move to work to get anyone tested in that pool a Covid diagnostic test, a nasal test.”
The testing for teachers and staff only takes a couple minutes. Results are expected in 3-7 days. Andrea Lazarek-Laquay is a nurse with Nascentia Health, and has been working at these mobile test sites since April. She said most people who come in are asymptomatic.
“But we have had people test positive within that population," Lazarek-Laquay said. "It’s an opportunity for them to identify that they are positive and then to go through the proper isolation and quarantining procedures and then hopefully, prevent it from spreading.”
Onondaga County will continue its mobile testing at different school districts for the next two weeks. There is no testing schedule yet for Syracuse city schools, which has delayed in-person classes until October.