RCSD inches closer to 100% vaccinations, some staff members would rather test-out

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — This week we’ve seen two deadlines for vaccination mandates. One for health care workers and one for some college campuses. The Rochester City School District set its own mandate.

Out of nearly 5,000 staff members, the district told News10NBC that 89% are vaccinated throughout the district. The remaining 11% are testing weekly.

"We were curious as to what the numbers would look like, would we run into difficulty with people that would refuse to test,” said RCSD Chief of Human Capital Christopher Miller.

RCSD started requiring staff and faculty to show proof of vaccinations or weekly test-outs in early August, but they knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk.

"We worked with some staff through accommodations, and some support, we did have a few individuals who didn’t want to do the shallow nose swab testing so we accommodated them with a saliva test,” Miller said.

Miller said being accommodating not only created compliance, but it kept staff on the roster, among nationwide staffing shortages.

“We wanted to make it easier for staff so we could ensure that we could retain them and it wouldn’t be a challenge for them,” Miller said.

Tests have to be submitted once a week, so, what happens if teachers and staff on the testing list forget, or just don’t test?

"If staff do not test weekly we will follow up with them. We’ve seen no evidence of an outright refusal, but we have had a couple of staff members who didn’t want to be accommodated with a saliva test and they’ve requested to take unpaid leave for a short period of time, but that’s less than a handful,” Miller added.

As part of making it easier for those who chose the option to test, the district has partnered with Walgreens. When a staff member goes to get tested, the results go right to the district at no cost to the employee. RCSD officials say students can also go to a Walgreens if they would like to get tested.