The West Virginia Department of Education said through a news release that they are working with the West Virginia National Guard following a directive from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin has called for additional water testing to confirm that all schools in the counties impacted by the chemical leak on Jan. 9 are under 2 parts per billion (ppb).
“We have been testing water in all of our schools at the governor’s more stringent level of 10 parts per billion which is 100 times more rigorous than Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s recommend level of 1 part per million,” said Adjutant General James Hoyer in the release.
“After testing thousands of lab samples, chemists can now confidently test at 2ppb. This additional safety factor is one more example of how the governor has gone above and beyond the federal recommendations to bring added confidence to parents, students and staff to ensure the highest level of public safety,” he added.
It is expected that the testing will occur over the weekend and results should be back by mid-week. Any school that tests above the two parts per billion will be re-flushed and retested. Moving forward, the Rapid Response Team established earlier this month to address issues in schools will continue to answer and investigate calls.
“Student safety continues to be our top priority,” said Gov. Tomblin. “As a parent, I understand that families need the additional peace of mind that comes with this testing.”
In the meantime, schools will continue to provide hand sanitizer and bottled water for drinking and cooking, according to the release.
“We are taking every precaution because we know that parents trust us to keep their children safe,” said Jim Phares, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools.
On The Legislature Today on Tuesday, February 18, Phares said he doesn’t know of any plans for the Rapid Response Team, which includes a member of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division Air Quality, to begin testing the air quality in schools. The smell and fumes in school is what is believed to be linked to symptoms of burning eyes and noses, as well as fainting.