School Drinking Water Safety & Access During COVID-19
School Drinking Water Access
Sugary drinks are a top source of added sugars and of empty calories in children’s diets. The school day is an important time to help children and youth develop the habit of drinking water to quench thirst.
In recognition of this, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 requires schools to make potable water available at no charge to students, wherever lunch is served, and whenever breakfast is served in the cafeteria. During COVID-19, most schools are providing meals in locations other than the cafeteria. USDA provides guidance for meeting HHFKA water requirements in their Q&A for the Child Nutrition Programs during School Year 2020-21, Questions 13-16.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the National Drinking Water Alliance have released a new infographic on options for providing water in schools during COVID-19. Increasing Drinking Water Availability in Schools provides strategies and tips for success for making drinking water available throughout school campuses during COVID-19 and beyond.
Drinking Water Safety
Any building that has been unused or rarely used for some time should be concerned about re-commissioning plumbing pipes upon reopening to reduce the risk of pathogens such as legionella and heavy metals such as lead.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation on September 22, 2020. The update added guidance on lead and copper in building water systems experiencing low or no use, along with information regarding mitigating legionella exposure via plumbing systems. Refer also to the “Water Systems” section in Considerations for Schools, CDC's general recommendations for COVID-19 mitigation strategies when schools are open.
Additional information may be found in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resources:
Checklist for Restoring Water Quality in Buildings for Reopening