UPDATE: 'Unacceptable' Water Found at Five Schools

By: Jeremy Edwards, Steffany Puckett, Michael Clouse Email
By: Jeremy Edwards, Steffany Puckett, Michael Clouse Email
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UPDATE 1/31/14 @ 7:51 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As with any mother during this water crisis, Sarah Highlander's top priority has been her son's safety.

"I've told him not to drink the water and only use things that haven't been affected by it," said Highlander.

When she heard that his school tested above the governor's acceptable level of MCHM, she questioned whether he should be in class.

"I don't think it's safe for them to be there," said Highlander.

"It was a disappointment, yes," said Terry Hollandsworth.

Hollandsworth is the Executive Director of Maintenance at Kanawha County Schools.

He says that fear of sending a child to school is what they want to alleviate.

Saturday, the Kanawha County maintenance squad spend several hours re-doing the flushing process at the failing schools.

They not only followed West Virginia American's Water's guidelines, but as a safety measure, went well over them.

"We completely drained the hot water tanks, flushed the sinks for 15 minutes or more," said Hollandsworth, "the dishwasher three times, recycled the steamers three times."

Afterward, the Kanawha County Health Department came through, doing a double check on every faucet.

"They looked to make sure we changed the filters, and the ice machines, and they checked the building to make sure that maybe we missed something," said Hollandsworth.

It's all to make sure that when the desks are filled Monday morning, the students and their parents are worry free.

UPDATE 1/31/14 @ 11:23 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Ellen McCallister came to pick up her granddaughter from John Adams Middle School Friday afternoon because she wasn't feeling well.

However, some news she received on the way made McCallister want her at home for a different reason. John Adams was one of five schools to test a detectable level of MCHM.

"That makes you very worried about how the testing is going because of the fact that they're (saying) it is OK to drink it, and then all of a sudden it's not OK to drink it," said McCalister

On Friday, the state announced the schools that failed to meet the governor's stringent standards of less than 10 parts per billion.

In Kanwaha County, they were John Adams, George Washington High School, and Andrew Heights Elementary School. Buffalo High School in Putnam County, and Lincoln County High School also showed detectable levels.

While dozens tested below, Kanawha County Superintendent Dr. Ron Duerring knows just one failure is too many.

"We're being very cautious because the safety of our children comes first," Duerring said.

Flushing is underway and will continue this weekend. The fountains will stay covered, keeping bottled water around for at least another week.

"We have followed all the protocols, we have taken extra steps to make sure it's safe for our students, and we will continue to do so as long as we need to," Duerring said.

UPDATE 1/31/14 @ 4:53 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro tells WSAZ.com some levels of MCHM have been found at five schools.

Cordeiro says the levels found at the schools are below the level the Governor wants.

Cordeiro says the five schools involved are: George Washington High School, John Adams Middle School, Andrew Heights Elementary School, Buffalo High School, and Lincoln County High School.

School Board President Pete Thaw calls the levels "unacceptable."

The schools have been using bottled water for drinking and cooking.

The schools will be flushed over the weekend and will be ready for classes on Monday.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.

ORIGINAL STORY 1/31/14 @ 1:25 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County School Board President Pete Thaw tells WSAZ.com, unacceptable levels of MCHM has been found at three schools.

Thaw says the water was found at George Washington High School, John Adams Middle School and Andrew Heights Elementary School.

The schools have been using bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Thaw tells WSAZ.com, the schools will be flushed over the weekend and will be ready for classes on Monday.

According to a news release, the flushing is to achieve a non-detectable level below 10 parts per billion as directed by Governor Tomblin.

During the current water crisis, Kanawha County Schools has partnered with the Kanawha County Health Department, the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health and the National Guard to make sure each of its 69 schools met the safe criteria for water consumption.

School officials say hand sanitizer, bottled water and food preparation with bottled water are being used in each school until the schools have been cleared below 10 parts per billion.

After the initial flushing took place, each school’s water was tested and samples were taken to ensure the water quality was at this additional standard.

According to a news release, out of the 69 schools that were tested, 59 water samples have returned and three schools were not yet at the lower threshold that the interagency team was directed to achieve beyond the CDC guidelines. The rest of those schools results showed non-detect levels at the 10 parts per billion level.

School leaders say Kanawha County Schools continues to work with the local health department, the West Virginia Bureau of Public and the National Guard to meet safe water standards.

Additional flushing will begin this weekend and additional water samples will be taken to ensure water quality at the identified schools, according to the release.

School leaders plan to communicate with parents and the public as additional results come in from the remaining facilities.

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