Safety steps taken during water service disruption at Pickerington Elementary School

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Pickerington Schools officials say steps were taken to ensure student and staff safety after in-person classes were held Sept. 8 following a disruption of water service at Pickerington Elementary School.

According to Crystal Davis, public relations director for Pickerington Schools, the disruption in water service was caused by working to fix a leak in the system.

She said the district was notified about 9:45 a.m. that water service to the school would be shut off. She said it was shut off at 11 a.m.

Because the district wasn’t informed when service would be restored, and because students already were in the building, they were not sent home.

“When instances such as this occur in our buildings, it is our practice not to send students home because it puts parents in a bad position who are already at work for the day,” Davis said.

“There are also transportation considerations for our students.”

Although water fountains were inoperable and students and staff were not able to use traditional means to wash their hands, Davis said the district provided bottled water to students and noted “there is hand sanitizer in each classroom and in multiple locations throughout building.”

“These are items that were already in place in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic,” she said.

“So, students and staff had plenty of hand sanitizer to clean their hands, and again, they had lots of bottled water to drink since water fountains are disabled to better protect students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Other central Ohio schools districts started the 2020-21 school year with students taking all of their courses virtually, however, Pickerington Schools started the year Aug. 31 under a hybrid model.

Under the model, students were grouped into two cohort models, with roughly 50% of students attending in-person classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other 50% attending in-person classes Thursdays and Fridays.

Students also had the option of taking classes online for the entire year through the district’s Virtual Learning Academy.

Davis said during the water outage, students were allowed to use school restrooms and “custodians regularly checked the restrooms and used bottled water to flush the toilets.”

“Additionally, the bathrooms were sprayed down additional times, as well,” she said.

“The building is currently under a 48-hour boil alert.”

Because of the district’s cohort scheduling, there were no students in the building Sept. 9.

Davis said teachers working in the building to provide virtual instruction had been “provided water and ample hand sanitizer for our staff.”

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate