BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Under state guidance, schools are required to test unvaccinated teachers and staff for COVID.
7 Eyewitness News checked in with the Tapestry Charter School in Buffalo to find out about the required testing for teachers.
“If you happen not to be vaccinated — you know we want to be able to test you once a week to make sure that we are complying,” declared Eric Klapper, executive director, Tapestry.
Tapestry Charter is now in the second full week of in-person learning for students in K-12.
Klapper says the school is working to make sure they respect and understand reasons why some might not be vaccinated among their 180 teachers and staffers.
“Whatever particular situations they have within their families for the reasons why they wouldn't get vaccinated — we respect that — we want to just work with them,” explained Klapper.“We don't want an us verses them culture coming out,” Klapper noted.
Tapestry already have 96-percent of their teachers and staffers vaccinated.
“We want them to get vaccinated. We want them to urge encourage them to get vaccinated,” Klapper remarked.
Under the state guidance, all staff members who are not fully vaccinated must get tested for COVID each week.
Schools are also being required to provide student testing once a week, but that must include a parent or guardian's consent.
Tapestry is working with Erie County's Health Department to conduct surveillance testing of 10-percent of unvaccinated students.
“It’s a saliva test. It’s just two swabs in the mouth — it's not a nasal test — it’s not a touch your brain test,” described Klapper.
The school is in the process of conducting a “consent to test” campaign so school families understand more about the importance of testing.
“In the case of a potential positive — we approximate that testing within the classroom — we have seating charts that we can work with the contract tracers to ensure who can come back into the class,” Klapper said.
Klapper says the more students they are able to test for COVID on a regular basis, the greater the odds that they'll remain open without disruption of in-person learning.
According to the state guidance, those who fail to follow the testing requirements could face a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation.
Governor Kathy Hochul wants to mandate vaccines for school teachers and staffers, but that needs to be hammered out between districts and unions.
New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) has stated that it continues to support the state’s requirement of COVID testing for staffers who are not yet vaccinated, however, NYSUT says it is “critical that educators continue to have a voice in the implementation of vaccine requirements and other COVID polices at the local level”.