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CHARLOTTE, NC — The Biden administration said Wednesday it will provide 10 million free COVID-19 tests a month to U.S. schools to keep classes in person in North Carolina and elsewhere amid the omicron surge.
The tests — 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests — will be available to schools starting this month. The increased federal support for testing is in addition to the more than $10 billion devoted to school-based testing and $130 billion in other efforts to keep kids in the classroom, both authorized in the COVID-19 relief law.
President Joe Biden has pushed schools to remain open, citing the academic and social-emotional costs of remote learning. But he has faced mounting criticism over testing shortages as America’s 50 million school children and educators returned to the classroom.
The White House said 96 percent of schools opened for in-person learning after the holiday break, compared with 46 percent in January 2021. Without adequate testing, critics have said, schools become superspreader settings.
School districts, charter schools and private schools can request testing kits and other testing support from NCDHHS as part of the StrongSchoolsNC K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program. Additionally, public schools can request funding to hire additional school nursing support staff for school testing and other school-based health services.
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