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Free rapid COVID-19 testing will soon become available to all public schools in North Carolina, health officials announced Thursday.

Starting Dec. 14, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will launch a pilot program that offers free antigen rapid testing for all public K-12 schools and public charter schools who are teaching in-person classes.

The antigen tests require either a nose swab or saliva sample and provide results within 15 minutes compared to other tests where results may take days to receive. However, the downside of rapid testing is the possibility of false negatives.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to trend upward in schools statewide, health officials are in desperate need of a solution. Dr. Elizabeth Tilson with the state’s health department says keeping students and staff safe is a priority.

“The point of testing is early identification in people who may be positive so that we can more quickly put in those control measures to prevent spreads through the schools,” said Tilson.




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