Turn On the Tap! School Drinking Water Access as COVID Persists
“When we returned to school, students were on campus for 2 hours only. Every single water fountain was closed.”
“If a student didn't bring their own water bottles, they were not allowed to use any water fountains both inside the class or even outside.”
These comments from teachers demonstrate a lasting misperception of the COVID pandemic—that water fountains can spread the COVID virus. However, despite the apparent concerns of some, the virus causing COVID-19 has not been found to transmit through drinking water. Moreover, the risk of acquiring the COVID-19 virus through surfaces including water fountains is low and can be eliminated by proper disinfection practices. That’s why public health experts, medical professionals, parents, students and school officials all have concerns about water fountains being off at schools.
The Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a new infographic with six practical tips for providing safe and appealing drinking water anytime, but especially while concerns about COVID-19 persist.
Substituting plain water for sugary drinks is a simple but effective change that can promote better health. Children spend much of their day in school and several studies have shown improved cognition and academic performance with increased water drinking. Reopening water fountains, with adequate precautions, is a low-risk and high-reward action school administrators can take.
By Wasan Kumar, a first-year medical student at Stanford University, with Anisha Patel and Christina Hecht