District updates families about COVID-19 surveillance testing program

Fayetteville-Manlius School District Superintendent Craig J. Tice sent the following letter to families on Sept. 14, 2021.

Dear F-M Schools Community,

With a successful opening to the new school year in the rear-view mirror, I am writing to you today to share with you an opportunity presented in partnership with Onondaga County that provides for weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing of both students and staff. 

The F-M Board of Education, at its meeting on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, deliberated the advantages and limitations of the county proposal and directed me to survey our families in order to ascertain the interest level within our community.

Onondaga County’s goal is to randomly test 10% of the respective school populations (students and staff) once a week in order to determine the prevalence and spread of the virus throughout Central New York. 

The surveillance testing will be held in F-M schools on Fridays throughout the duration of the surveillance testing program, and will target a random sample of 10% of the staff/student population.  The research plan is to target a different 10% every week (sampling with replacement) in order to maximize the power of the study.  It is worth noting that if not enough families avail themselves of the program, the same students may end up getting tested on a more regular and or weekly basis. If that is the case, we will notify families of their right to opt out of the surveillance testing.

The method of testing will be pooled saliva, and Quadrant Biosciences in Syracuse will be conducting the sample analysis. The sample will be collected by using a small swab, similar to a Q-Tip, to collect saliva from the inside of an individual’s mouth.  Twelve individual samples will be combined together for the initial pooled test.

To be eligible for this testing, students must have returned to their school a consent form (emailed to families on Sept. 14). Those families and staff members who complete a consent form will be provided with a hyperlink to register on the Quadrant Biosciences website.

Should any initial pool test positive, it is recommended that all individuals tested in that pool will have to quarantine as a precaution until a second round of individual test results from the students and/or staff in that pool are returned. This secondary round of sampling, called reflex testing, will determine who in the initial pool is COVID-19 positive, and from there, the county will determine if further quarantining is necessary and by whom. 

We will continue to monitor all local, state and federal guidance related to COVID-19 to ensure that we are following best practices to mitigate the spread of the virus in our schools. I will continue to update you via SchoolMessenger and the district website as more information becomes available. Our Let’s Talk communication platform is available via our website if you have questions or concerns, or you may directly reach out to me or your student’s building principal. 

I wish you all the best for a healthy and successful school year!


Craig J. Tice, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District