Onondaga County plans for orange and yellow zone school testing but still waiting on NYS approval

Coronavirus

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Since announcing parts of Onondaga County are included in an orange zone, there have been many questions about what that means for the school districts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID zone strategy states schools that are in an orange zone must go remote for 4 days. One thing to be thankful for, many classes are already out of school for the next 4 days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

But the second part of the restriction on schools includes testing. Every in-person student must be tested and test negative before returning to the classroom. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said during his briefing on Wednesday that the county is talking with New York State to determine what that means for school districts that have already undergone yellow zone testing. The three districts impacted are Lyncourt, part of Jamesville-DeWitt, and Syracuse City Schools (SCSD)

The SCSD is impacted the greatest due to the number of schools located within the zone. McMahon said the county suggested that the state allow everyone to go back to in-person learning on Monday. By Friday of next week, the county will test everyone in those districts.

If New York State says no to the proposed plan, McMahon said he believes Lyncourt will be able to open on Monday. They’ll be able to test everyone because the district is much smaller. In SCSD, the county will work with the district and open eight schools a day starting on Monday. It’ll be up to SCSD Superintendent Jaime Alicea which schools open first. Why only eight? That’s the number of testing teams the county has available in order to test every student.

Once the orange zone schools are finished, McMahon said Onondaga County will continue its efforts testing the yellow zone schools. Several schools “tested out” of the NYS protocols and no longer have to test 20% of their population.

For the schools that recently entered a yellow zone, Onondaga County will work them into the rotation of schools to be tested. McMahon said he hopes to be able to start those schools next week but it depending on the state’s answer regarding orange zone schools, it may be the week after next.

Parents and guardians will need to provide consent for the county to test their children. Your individual school district should be able to provide more details.

Watch McMahon’s full briefing in the video player below:


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