A North Carolina news outlet has reported an incident on Tuesday in which children alleged that a middle school bus driver has been offering them $5 to swab their cheeks with a Q-Tip.
The director of communications for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) system told The Epoch Times that CMS can’t provide details while the incident is being investigated.
“The driver involved in the incident was suspended pending the results of an ongoing investigation,” the director said. “The alleged incident appears to be an individual acting outside of assigned duties and done without the knowledge of the district or school administrator.”
John Paul with WSOC-TV reported that several parents told him that a CMS bus driver for the Ridge Road Middle School in Charlotte offered their children $5 to swab their cheeks.
Paul said that parent Mone Davis reported to the news outlet that her daughter said, “She gave me the Q-Tip thing and made me swab my mouth, and when I was done, I put it in the cylinder and gave it to her. Then she gave me $5.”
The allegations date back to Feb. 15, Paul said, with one report alleging that the bus driver took samples from 10 kids on the bus as well as personal information.
Paul said one child reported to the parent that the bus driver said it was a COVID-19 test, while another child reported to the parent that there were two other adults on the bus who weren’t identified.
Paul said Ridge Road Middle School sent out a statement to parents in connection with the allegations in which the school principal said he reported the incident “to the appropriate parties for investigation,” but that he could not provide further information because it’s under investigation.
Ridge Road Middle School didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times for comment.
“Why would someone take a mouth swab from a kid and their personal information—and maybe more importantly—what could they do with that information,” Paul asked in his report.
Jason Stoogenke, also with WSOC-TV, pointed to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fraud alert that involves a similar procedure in which someone offers “free cheek swabs” for the purpose of obtaining that person’s personal information “for identify theft or fraudulent billing” in Medicare scams on senior citizens.
However, because this case involves children, it “makes this case even more mysterious,” Stoogenke said.
Paul later reported that the children who had made the allegations had been pulled out of class and interviewed by CMS police.
The CMS police department didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for a police report.
The Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington told Joe Bruno with WSOC-TV that not only has the county not authorized any cheek-swab COVID test providers but also, it’s not an effective way to test for COVID, Washington said.
In addition, Washington told the news outlet that there’s no reason to pay someone to do a COVID test.
Paul said the investigation brought him to a person who alleged that the National Institute of Molecular Diagnostics in Greensboro, North Carolina, paid him $5 to perform a cheek-swab COVID test, then “recruited him to put on a similar event” the next day.
When WSOC-TV tried to contact the institute, it didn’t respond.
The Institute also didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.
At the time of the report, Paul said it was unclear if the two incidents are connected.