ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School District will require employees to be vaccinated, or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing for the upcoming school year, officials wrote in a letter to staff members Wednesday.

“The safety of our students, staff, and school community is one of our highest priorities as we prepare to begin the new school year. To ensure the safety of all who enter RCSD schools and facilities, we are requiring all RCSD staff take a weekly COVID test beginning the week of September 6, 2021,” the letter read.

“Vaccinated staff who voluntarily present confirmation of their vaccination status by Friday, September 3, 2021, will not be required to participate in the weekly COVID testing. Staff who present confirmation after this date will continue to test until their status is confirmed by our office.”

According to the letter, if vaccination is not verified, staff members will be required to take their COVID-19 test outside the staff member’s work hours.

Officials say any employee may have their test taken at a local Walgreens Pharmacy for free, and the participating Walgreens stores will “ensure” data is submitted directly to the district upon completion.

Rochester Teachers Association President issued the following statement to district employees Wednesday:

“Earlier today you received a communication from the District notifying you about the District’s policy regarding weekly testing of RCSD employees who are not able to demonstrate proof of COVID-19 vaccination. It represents an attempt to balance individual rights with our collective responsibility to help ensure greater safety for all.

We recognize that there are lots of unanswered questions as well as details that are yet to be worked out and clarified. That is we have requested to formally negotiate the impact of the new policy on the terms and conditions of work for our members. The District has already agreed to such Impact Bargaining and the negotiations sessions are scheduled to begin this Friday. 

We will keep you informed about the progress of our efforts on your behalf. Meanwhile, please feel free to contact us if you have specific questions or concerns about aspects of the District’s new policy.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.