Monroe County schools to start offering on-site rapid PCR tests soon

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello Thursday announced that schools will soon start offering rapid PCR COVID-19 tests on-site.

The move is intended to help students return to class faster after showing symptoms that could be COVID-19. It would not be offered to students who are in quarantine after a possible COVID-19 exposure.

"By having more PCR tests ready and available and free of charge to families it means that children who are ready to go back to school can get back to school, they can go back and be with their classmates and go back to learning, parents can go back to work and don’t have to stay home with their sick children," Bello said.

Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza said students will still need to be fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication in order to return to class, in addition to testing negative for COVID-19.

"First they have to be feeling better," Mendoza said. "Second, they have to be fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine. And third, they have to have a negative COVID PCR test result."

Mendoza said at this time, he does not have a list of participating schools, but all school districts in Monroe County have been invited to participate.

"Because of the high demand for PCR tests and the lab time to process the results they are unfortunately still staying at home," Mendoza said.

The program could look different at each school, according to Mendoza. He said more information should be available in the coming weeks and participating schools will notify parents.

The testing will be voluntary, but Mendoza says he is encouraging schools to sign up to use them.

The county is working with public, private and charter schools to come up with guidelines.

Mendoza said the necessary machines have already arrived and the county could deliver them as soon as Wednesday.

"We’re looking to roll this out as quickly as possible," Mendoza said.

The plan is for county workers to train staff.

At the same COVID-19 briefing, Bello announced a $100 vaccine incentive that will start on Saturday and run through Thanksgiving. The county will give out $50 for the first dose of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines, and an additional $50 for the second. Johnson & Johnson recipients will get all $100 at once.

Watch the full press conference in the video in the player below (mobile users, click here):