CMS to begin COVID-19 testing at half of its elementary schools for unvaccinated teachers and staff


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Starting next week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will begin COVID testing at half of its elementary schools for teachers and staff who are unvaccinated.

The district will start at half of the elementary schools next week followed by the remaining elementary schools and then middle schools, and by the end of October, they’ll hit high schools.

Parents can choose to have their students tested for COVID, but it’s not required.

Testing is mandatory for unvaccinated staff.

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“I wouldn’t want it any other way. The kids make this job worth it,” said CMS teacher Leslie Neilsen.

She’s happy to have students back in her classes at Community House Middle School, and she wants them to stay there.

“I’m vaccinated so I feel that I’ve mitigated my own risk, but for my kids, quarantining is such a disruption to their learning that we just want them in school and healthy,” said Neilsen.

She has already uploaded her vaccination card to CMS, so she won’t have to submit to COVID testing.

But staff members who are not vaccinated will be tested in CMS.

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The program starts next week rolling out in half of the district’s elementary schools the first week.

“Without the testing, I probably would have gone to work the next day and infected other people,” said Stephanie Jenkins, a CMS parent.

Jenkins’ kids go to Winget Park Elementary in CMS. Jenkins is vaccinated but she had COVID about a month ago. Her whole family got the virus. Her first grader had to miss three weeks of school.

“I’m a firm believer in testing, whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, because you can spread the virus either way and the more people are aware of whether they’re carrying it or not, the more you can care for the community,” Jenkins said.

CMS parents can sign their students up to  be tested, but testing is totally optional for students, and they need a consent form.

CMS says the diagnostic testing, which should start rolling out for students who opt-in the week of October 11, is for those who have symptoms or to reduce quarantine time.

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Students would do a self-swab and samples will be sent to a lab.

“I probably will opt in for my students to participate in that just because I want to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” said Jenkins.

FOX 46 spoke with another CMS teacher and another parent, and both are against testing. Neither would go on camera.

The teacher does not feel comfortable disclosing her vaccination status and thinks the process is discriminatory. The parent says money for the testing program could be put to better use.

The testing program is free for students and staff, but NCDHHS is paying for it.

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