WEST OLIVE, Mich. -- The West Ottawa Public School District and Ottawa County Health Department confirmed Friday the drinking water at Sheldon Woods Elementary is contaminated, despite district officials telling FOX 17 Wednesday the water was tested and safe to drink.
WOPSD Associate Superintendent of Business Services Jim English confirmed Sheldon Wood's water tested positive for coliform bacteria Oct. 24, 2017, then tested negative for the particular strain of E. coli. While he said the district followed health department directives and continued to provide bottled drinking water, parents were not informed.
"As far as the use of the water: the water was for hand-washing, and the drinking fountains were turned off," said English. "It was no risk to students because the water wasn’t being consumed."
Several parents tell FOX 17 they're upset with underlying transparency issues.
"As a parent I haven’t heard anything, nothing at all," said Ashley Coster, mother of a Sheldon Woods student and PTO Secretary. "Every year they always just say to bring a water bottle for the students so they can stay hydrated."
Coster and other parents of Sheldon Woods Elementary students say they've had concerns about the school's drinking water, but the district never informed them of any issues.
Wednesday FOX 17 reported parents' concerns of having a part-time principal shared between elementary schools Sheldon Woods and North Holland, as well as possible drinking water issues at Sheldon Woods. At that time English told FOX 17 Sheldon Woods' "water is regularly tested and is safe to drink."
However, Friday Ottawa County Health Department officials confirmed to FOX 17 that Sheldon Woods' drinking water tested positive for coliform bacteria. While officials said this particular bacteria doesn't cause "imminent health concerns," they suggest students continue to drink from bottled water.
"If it wasn’t for the news reaching out to them, I doubt they would have even sent anything home," said Coster. "And when I had spoken to the health department, they said that the kids should be using hand sanitizer following hand-washing, even with this water. As a parent that doesn’t sound very safe to me."
According to the health department, hand sanitizer may be used after washing hands with the contaminated water but it is not required.
On Friday, English also told FOX 17 the water fountains have been shut off at Sheldon Woods for at least the last six years, but October was the first time he's aware of any water issues. He said the district followed health department directives and also chlorinated the contaminated well, then drilled a new well in January. They continue to provide bottled drinking water.
Coster hopes for a high turnout of concerned parents and residents at the upcoming School Board meeting on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m.
"Parents should be aware so they can warn their children," said Coster.
Officials with the district and health department issued a letter home to families as of 5 p.m. Friday.
Source : http://fox17online.com/2018/03/16/district-health-department-informs-parents-of-schools-contaminated-water-months-after-testing/