MADISON – Beginning Monday, March 17, Boone County public schools will be returning to normal operating conditions with regards to the use of water, according to Boone County Schools Superintendent John Hudson.
In a March 11 letter to parents, Hudson said the school system has worked with the West Virginia National Guard and others to test water at the schools several times for traces of the chemical MCHM.
“During the latest round of testing, all schools received a non-detect reading for MCHM at 2 parts per billion (ppb),” Hudson said. “In addition, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the water to be safe. The 2 parts per billion is 500 times more protective than the CDC’s public safety guideline.”
Hudson added that bottled water would be available for student and staff consumption in schools as long as supplies last. He said hand sanitizer would be available as well.
“Once current water supplies have been depleted, you, as parents or guardians are welcome to send bottled water with your child or children and provide a packed lunch, if you desire,” he said. “Thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time.”
In Charleston, the final set of school water test results have returned with a non-detect reading at the 2 parts per billion (2ppb) screening level for all schools in the nine counties affected by the January chemical spill into the West Virginia American Water supply.
In late February, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called for additional water testing to confirm that all schools in the counties impacted by the chemical leak on Jan. 9 are under 2 parts per billion (ppb).
The West Virginia National Guard revisited more than 100 schools in Kanawha, Boone, Clay, Cabell, Lincoln and Putnam counties.
All results are being posted on the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website: http://www.dhsem.wv.gov/Pages/WV-American-Water-Emergency.aspx
Previously, the National Guard took samples from all schools for lab testing at a level of 10 ppb, which is 100 times more protective than Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) recommend level of 1 part per million.
The new 2ppb testing standard is 500 times more protective than the CDC’s public safety guideline.
“We have been testing water in all of our schools at the governor’s more stringent level of 10 parts per billion, which is 100 times more rigorous than the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s recommended level of 1 part per million,” said Adjutant General James Hoyer. “After testing thousands of lab samples, chemists can now confidently test at 2ppb. This additional safety factor is one more example of how the governor has gone above and beyond the federal recommendations to bring added confidence to parents, students and staff to ensure the highest level of public safety.”
Additional testing will continue and any school that tests above the two parts per billion will be re-flushed and retested, Hoyer added. He said, moving forward, the Rapid Response Team established earlier this month to address issues in schools will continue to answer and investigate calls.
“Student safety continues to be our top priority,” Gov. Tomblin said. “As a parent, I understand that families need the additional peace of mind that comes with this testing.”
“I applaud the governor for taking these additional steps,” said Jim Phares, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools. “We are taking every precaution because we know that parents trust us to keep their children safe.”
“I have been very proud of our maintenance department and school custodians and cooks for all of their diligent work during these difficult times,” Hudson said regarding Boone County schools. “It is so encouraging to see Boone County Schools’ employees working to do what is best for students, even if it involves extra work out of the normal routine.”
Hudson said information for Boone County public schools, including a press release from the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia National Guard, may be accessed on the Boone County Schools website at www.boonecountyboe.org