Coordinated School Health
COVID-19 Testing FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Beginning November 2021, schools will offer free student diagnostic testing. This is an optional testing program and family/parent consent will be required before students will have access to free on-site testing. Join us in our efforts to keep schools open. 

Opt-in your student today! Testing Consent Form (ENG/SPA). School code required. Contact your school for your code. 

Click below for more information and answers about the program.

General Information

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are offering a COVID-19 Testing Program with free COVID-19 diagnostic testing for students. Diagnostic testing means that free testing is offered to students who are exhibiting symptoms or have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19. Diagnostic testing will be provided by a state assigned vendor, Gingko Bioworks and Lighthouse Labs.
Diagnostic testing is a safe, effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep our schools open for in-person learning. Diagnostic testing will help us keep students in the classroom and reduce quarantine times, allowing students to take part in the other activities they love.
No, COVID-19 tests are optional, although strongly encouraged. If you choose not to enroll your child in the program, they can still attend school in-person and take part in sports and extracurricular activities. Only students with parent/guardian consent on file would be able to participate in testing.
Current CDC guidance states that if your child is fully vaccinated, they do not need to be tested unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19.
Test results are protected and will only be shared with Mecklenburg County Public Health for reporting purposes. Close contacts will only be notified that they were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and need to quarantine. Information sharing and notifying of contacts must maintain confidentiality in accordance with state and federal laws.
The consent forms are available online for families who choose to participate in this free program. Schools will also send information with the links directly to families via email. Paper forms are available by request.

​How the Program Works

The COVID-19 tests at schools will be free, quick, and easy. We will use a viral test, known as a PCR test. This test is conducted by a lab and takes 24-48 hours to receive results. This test will tell if your child has a current COVID-19 infection, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
The test will involve a self-administered nasal swab. It is a quick and easy test.
  • This nasal test gently swabs the inner part of the lower nostril. The test is not painful. We do not use the longer swabs that reach higher into the nose.
Each school’s testing site may differ, and could include the auditorium, gymnasium, or other location. Tests will be available to be conducted as needed.
Members of our school staff will oversee the sample collection for the COVID-19 testing and package the samples for shipping. Students will self-administer the test as outlined above.
The COVID-19 tests will be free to students. You will never receive a bill, and your insurance will not be charged. Consent is required.
Students will only be tested if they are displaying symptoms that may require them to be excluded from school or if a student was a close contact and needs a test to reduce quarantine time.
Students with certain COVID-like symptoms are not allowed to be in the classroom and must await parent/guardian pick up. During that time, if families consent to testing, the test sample could be collected and sent off that day. If negative, it would reduce the amount of time out of the classroom and if positive, we would more quickly identify the need for the student to isolate and the school can begin contact tracing.


The results of the test should be available within 24-48 hours.
Our testing program uses a PCR test, which requires the sample to be mailed to a lab for processing and does not provide immediate results but is a more reliable test than the rapid tests.
Tests can show a false negative or false positive, but most test results are useful and give families the information they need. Sometimes—depending on the type of test and other factors—more testing to confirm a result may be recommended.
Your school will ask you to keep your child home. You will be asked to provide information about your child’s close contacts so that everyone who has been exposed can be notified. We will be in touch to discuss medical care and other support for your child and family.
If your child was exposed to someone who has COVID-19, we will be in touch to discuss what actions to take. A COVID-19 test will tell us what further preventive actions are needed.

CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Visit to find vaccination providers near you.

P.O. Box 30035
Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools website ( is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any website accessibility concerns may be brought via the following, Email the Web Accessibility Team at WebAccessibility or Call: 980.343.0115. In compliance with Federal Law, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administers all education programs, employment activities and admissions without discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Inquiries regarding compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities, may be referred to the District's Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator or to the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education.