The Clear Take on Water and Wastewater Today

Making Sure Our Water Is Safe in Schools

Schools have re-opened to varying degrees over the past number of weeks and with that comes something we need to be vigilant about beyond COVID-19. A New York Times report last week featured instances of Legionella in several schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines for business and building re-openings after Coronavirus lockdowns. A spokeswoman from the agency said that its guidelines are “applicable to all types of buildings,” including schools.

To protect against the spread of Coronavirus, many school buildings have been unoccupied since March. Bathrooms, cafeterias and sports facilities have all gone unused. While low occupancy in schools is typical during summer breaks, many are normally open for summer school and other activities.

Adding to that are precautions that schools may take to limit the Coronavirus infection risk. For instance, some schools are turning off drinking fountains to prevent oral spread of the virus or closing off every other sink to ensure social distancing. Some sports facilities also remain closed because of the risk to student athletes and coaches.

But stagnant water in unused drinking fountains or sink plumbing could be a good reservoir in which the bacteria could grow. And shower heads like those found in locker rooms are common places for Legionella to proliferate. Facilities managers will need to be on guard for the bacteria in school athletics complexes if sports start again next spring. If in doubt consult the CDC.