On Monday parents and guardians received a letter from the Teton School District regarding the steps that have been taken since a water quality test at Rendezvous Upper Elementary School produced elevated amounts of lead in the drinking water. Additionally, coliform bacteria was detected at Tetonia Elementary School.
Director of Public Relations Jeanne Anderson said on Monday that the district immediately addressed the issue at both schools and has provided safe drinking stations. She said this was the first time the district has had to navigate compromised drinking water.
The letter sent home to parents reads, “Temporary drinking water stations have been installed at both schools, and will be used until testing shows all levels are safe. Meanwhile students can still use the restrooms and all sinks in classrooms to wash their hands, but that water should not be used for drinking.”
School Superintendent Monte Woolstenhumle said in a message to the Teton Valley News that he has been in touch with both the cities, Driggs and Tetonia, and plans to have follow-up testing next week for both of the schools. Driggs Mayor Hyrum Johnson said on Monday evening that he is following up with city staff with regard to the RUES tests results and would have more information for the general public in the next few days.
RUES principal Kristin Weston said that she is following the EPA guidelines which may be found here: www.epa.gov. She said the level of lead found in the water was enough for the district to take action and she added that it was a concern and not a crisis. She said that there is no way any student at RUES would come into contact with tap water until water was found at safe levels.
The parent letter reads:
Your child should have a letter when they get home from school (and you will have been sent the same letter by email previously today) about action taken today to keep students healthy -- the water fountains at each of these schools have been turned off, as testing has shown that there are elevated levels of lead at RUES and that coliform bacteria is present at Tetonia.
Temporary drinking water stations have been installed at both schools, and will be used until testing shows all levels are safe. Meanwhile students can still use the restrooms and all sinks in classrooms to wash their hands, but that water should not be used for drinking.
While we know that this information may cause some concern, we are taking the necessary steps to address the situation and confirm the safety of water throughout the district.
Note that neither school had issues of this sort at any time during the 2017-18 school year.
The District continues to proactively test water in all schools. We are also working with city authorities in both Driggs and Tetonia to ensure an appropriate response.
In Teton School District #401, there is nothing that we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We will continue to update the community as additional testing is conducted and work is completed.
We understand that you may have questions or want more information about lead and coliform in drinking water. We recommend that you visit the EPA’s website. The links for coliform rule compliance and basic information about lead in drinking water are in the comments. .
If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Monte Woolstenhulme, Superintendent of Schools at 208-228-5923, Megan Christiansen, Tetonia Elementary School Principal @ 208-228-5930 or Kristin Weston, Principal of Rendezvous Upper Elementary School @208-228-5826.