SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse City School District is getting help with its required COVID-19 testing of students and staff so that in-person learning can continue.
All but two of the city schools fall in the state’s orange zone microcluster designation and require the testing.
While the state is no longer requiring all students and staff to be tested, hundreds will still need to be screened for the virus.
The testing being used is the less invasive nasal swab around the insides of the end of each nostril.
Volunteers from Syracuse University and the Syracuse Fire Department have stepped up to help with this massive undertaking.
Syracuse Fire Chief Michael Monds says, “If we have the ability to try and help we’re going to do everything we can to help.”
On Tuesday, 21 members of the Syracuse Fire Department spread out into five city schools, including Ed Smith School to help with testing.
The chief says they are using a pool of between 60 to 75 firefighters with a goal of using 16 to 20 everyday testing is needed.
He adds the exact number each day depends on the ability first to fully staff each of the firehouses in Syracuse.
At Ed Smith School Tuesday firefighters were joined by volunteers from Syracuse University also giving of their time to help the Onondaga County Health Department with testing in the Syracuse City Schools
Mandy Patti, one of the SU volunteers, said, “There’s a variety of roles that are being played here today. So, basically wherever they need me, but it’s registration, registering students and faculty as they come in. It’s prepping test kits, it’s getting data entered into the system we’re using.”
Patti has been working during the fall semester at SU in the school’s COVID-19 Management Office and knew she could help with the testing operation in the city school district.
“We’re all in this together, just keeping this community safe and healthy and getting tested and knowing where we have to focus our energy and time,” she tells NewsChannel 9.
An order from New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives firefighters that are certified EMT’s the ability to collect nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing.
For the Syracuse Fire Department, the chief tells NewsChannel 9, that’s over 300 firefighters, “A lot of our firefighters live in the City, a lot of our firefighters who have children school-aged and I think we all have this commitment to try to make sure that all the schools can stay open.”
Monds also says the Syracuse Fire Department is willing to help with getting people in the city vaccinated when it gets to that point if they’re needed to do so.
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