Onondaga County Exec. pledges face masks for teachers

Back to School

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Onondaga County Executive is pledging tens of thousands of pieces of protective gear to keep students and teachers safe when they return to school in September.

While it was already known Onondaga County would give some schools PPE, Ryan McMahon shared specific numbers of how many in a tweet on Sunday.

His tweet committed the county to giving teachers 50,000 masks and 12,000 shields. In a subsequent tweet, McMahon writes that he hopes the money he expects school districts to get from the federal government can go toward paying for ventilation upgrades, testing capabilities and more computers and internet access for students.

The Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management has been stockpiling masks, shields and other PPE since the beginning of the pandemic.

McMahon’s pledge comes after he faced criticism from teachers on social media over the weekend, responding to the County Executive’s comments on Friday.

At his daily briefing Friday, McMahon criticized the school districts not bringing students back into the classroom five days a week.

McMahon worries too many students expected to stay home for remote learning will lead to a childcare crisis for the community.

Even before McMahon’s comments, the executive director of Child Care Solutions told NewsChannel 9 last week that she’s hearing about an increasing need for daycare from parents who never needed it before. She projects a limited number of 1,400 unfilled daycare spots available in Onondaga County.

McMahon’s offer of 50,000 masks should be able to be a big heal to the county’s 5,000 teachers, but school districts will also need help supplying masks for students.

In Onondaga County’s largest suburban school district, North Syracuse, nearly 120,000 masks have been ordered which will cover only half the school year.

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