Over the years both the Indiana State Department of Health and local health departments have received numerous calls from concerned parents, students, teachers and other school officials about proper procedures for handling water outages at schools. Rule 410 IAC 6-5.1, the Sanitary Schoolhouse Rule, requires that safe, potable water from an approved source be supplied to all fixtures at all times when a school is occupied. Therefore, unless buses are en route, no school shall open without an adequate supply of potable water at useable pressures. Water pressure will be adequate if water fixtures operate as designed. However, if either water pressure is lost or a boil water order has been issued, sometime during the school day, then students and parents are better served if the school remains open for the rest of that day. Depending on the scenario, one the following applies:
In the case of a water outage:
In the case of a boil water order:
In either scenario if lunch will be served, food preparation must be reduced to manageable levels commensurate with the availability of potable water. The local health department must be contacted as soon as possible so they can address meal preparation and ware washing in greater detail.
Finally, parents, students and teachers should be notified as soon as possible about the event, and what the school has done to address the problem, via student take-home fliers or the local news media. Otherwise, rumors will be rampant.
If you have any questions concerning the above, please contact Dennis H. Ehlers at AC 317/233-7588.