A healthcare worker prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Wake County Health Department workers along with nurses and volunteers from area hospitals distributed vaccines during the drive through appointment-only event. Since North Carolina began administering the vaccine in December, more than 1 million people have gotten their first doses. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services told education leaders Thursday it would offer charter schools and local school districts rapid COVID-19 tests for free to help control outbreaks.

The more robust testing would be available to students, families and school staff who are symptomatic or get exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. Schools could also ask for weekly screening of teachers and staff. They could even request testing for both scenarios. The agency described the plan for the state education board.

Parents must agree to have their children tested in school and allow the school to report the results to the state health department.

The vast majority of districts have students back in the classroom at least partially, or will soon. About 250,000 child care workers, teachers, principals and school staff are currently eligible to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen is scheduled to get a COVID-19 vaccination on Friday morning at PNC Arena in Raleigh. She’ll be joined by civil rights leader the Rev. William Barber. Cohen, a physician, was made eligible for a shot earlier this week after the state expanded vaccination access to those deemed “frontline essential workers."