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Onondaga County mandates COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for teachers and school staff

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon holds a news conference in Syracuse Tuesday

After recommending that schools require masks for indoor learning last week, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is now requiring a vaccination or test policy in every school district in the county. McMahon said Tuesday that all employees must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or take a COVID-19 test every week.

"This was something we felt very strongly about, uniformity across the board, to mitigate all risk possible so our kids can get back and have a regular school year," said McMahon.

He said it's critical to make sure the virus doesn't get into schools, because younger students can't be vaccinated yet.

"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. This is too critical," he said. "And for our children under 12, they haven’t had the opportunity to get a vaccine shot yet."

This requirement applies to teachers and staff, including bus drivers, groundskeepers and food service personnel. The Syracuse City School District already has a vax-or-test policy in place. McMahon also says the county will be offering staff back to school testing before school starts in September.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.