RAVENA — Ten water sources at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Middle School and another at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary exceed the amount of lead health officials deem safe to consume.
The revelation came through an independent study made by Needham Risk Management Resource Group in January. The district notified parents on the district’s website on Thursday, March 4.
Public Health Law and New York State Health Department regulations require school districts to test lead levels in water used for both drinking or cooking. When lead is found the NYSDOH requires schools take action to reduce lead exposure. Water levels above 15 parts per billion, or 15 micrograms per liter, exceeds the mandated threshold for drinkable water. In such cases, access to the faucet is cut off.
Water fountains were excluded from the study, as officials had already cut access to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffing restrictions at the high school also prevented the survey group from conducting tests at the high school. The district said it plans to arrange tests with the same vendor at the high school in “the near future.”
Altogether 221 sources were tested, including 79 at the middle school, 77 at A. W. Becker and 65 at P. B. Coeymans. The main office kitchen at the middle school was among the highest readings at 0.310 mg/L, more than double than the permitted threshold. Two classroom sinks registered more than 0.400 mg/L.
The district said it received results from the tests on February 16, and placed “hand wash only” signs on each flagged water source.
“RCS will follow appropriate measures to provide appropriate remediation,” stated district officials, “which may include fixture replacement, permanent signage or fixture removal.”
Lead was once commonly used in everyday products, from gasoline, paint, pottery, brass house fixtures and indoor plumbing, up into the 1970s. Use of the metal in those products was eliminated once exposure was discovered to be harmful to a child’s developing brain and nervous system. Lead exposure during pregnancy can also contribute to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants.
Individual lead exposure can only be detected through blood tests. The Environmental Protection Agency first published regulations to control lead and copper in drinking water in 1991.
The district provided a list of resources for parents at the end of the statement. It also encouraged parents to speak to their family physicians about their concerns.
Fully remote Friday
RAVENA — COVID-19 is forcing Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk to shift its schedule for an entirely different reason next week — call it “vaccination hangover.”
All of the district’s schools will shift to fully remote instruction on Friday, March 12, because “a large number” of its staff is scheduled to receive their second coronavirus vaccination the day before.
“Although their vaccinations will be in the afternoon or evening, experience has proven that a fair number of vaccinated individuals display symptoms 24 to 48 hours after their second shot,” the district shared in a statement. “We have enough staff being vaccinated that there’s a high-risk that they will not be well enough to report to work on Friday.”
RCS students will receive a half-day of classes from home as the district moves a planned professional development day for Monday, March 15 to that Friday. Students can now expect a full-day of classes on Monday.