Do you remember drinking from the fountain at school? I remember drinking from a little ceramic fountain in first grade, looking up at the third graders and thinking, “They are so big!”
Now as an educator working in school I do not drink from the drinking fountains. I did when I first started teaching though. I got every illness going through the school and then one day I saw a little kid put her whole mouth over and around the spout (I see students doing that all the time). I never drank from the fountain again. And my health improved dramatically. Of course getting sick a lot during your first year is a rite of passage. I felt like the school hazed me.
When I take my students to the fountain, occasionally they grimace and wipe their mouths, “It’s hot.” As a kid I would drink out of the hose outside during the summer and it was often very hot until I let it run for a minute or two. Now I wonder how many chemicals I ingested by drinking out of the hose (see Dangerous Lead Levels Found in Some Garden Hoses).
Of course the water at school is not coming from a hose that has been sitting out in the sun for several hours leeching god know what into the water. But what about water quality at school? Should parents worry about this too?
There isn’t much about school water quality online (hint: journalists get on it). When I searched Google, I found one article from September 2009: Drinking water unsafe at thousands of schools. The article makes mention of schools who get well water being the most at risk. That makes sense to me having lived in rural places where we didn’t have access to city water. We had our water checked every couple years.
Giving your child bottled water is not the answer as that leads to increased consumption of single-use plastic. All water must be safe for children at school. We need to support the Clean Water Act and have all schools come into compliance. If you have concerns about water quality at school, you could send your child with a Klean Kanteen water bottle or the equivalent.
I think parents should have access to the water records for the school that their children attend. I’m all for transparency. You know, as clear as the water should be.