NCDHHS launching pilot program for COVID-19 antigen testing of K-12 staff and students

Program to provide COVID tests for students and teachers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As coronavirus cases climb in North Carolina, a new pilot program for testing is coming to public schools.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the state will get 3 million antigen tests by the end of the year.

The Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests would provide rapid results to help slow the spread in schools.

“I am very worried,” Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a NCDHHS press conference Thursday as she gave an update on COVID-19 in North Carolina.

The light at the end of the tunnel is one, potentially two, vaccines arriving in North Carolina this month.

“Although vaccines were developed quickly over the course of this year, corners were not cut,” Dr. Cohen said.

She wants people to trust the vaccine, but keep in mind it won’t be immediately available to everyone.

“Children will not initially receive vaccine as clinical trials with children are needed,” she said.

Children could however soon have access to free COVID-19 antigen, or rapid, testing through a pilot program at North Carolina public schools.

The program will be available to K-12 students and staff who are either screening positive for COVID-19 symptoms or in close contact of someone positive for COVID-19.

According to NCDHHS, the testing can be done in schools with trained staff or in partnership with local health departments or hospitals.

The goal of more rapid testing is simple.

“Early identification of people who may be positive so that we can then more quickly put in those control measures to prevent spread through the schools,” Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, NCDHHS Health Director, said.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools confirms to WBTV they will be participating in the program.

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