Aug. 18, 2021

What’s in Your School’s Water?

An environmental chemical laboratory scientist prepares water from an Oklahoma school to be tested for lead at the Department of Environmental Quality in Oklahoma City on July 8, 2021. Last year. the agency launched a free program to test water in schools and daycare facilities statewide. So far, six schools have been tested. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Hello, readers. Today I’m happy to report an update to a story I wrote recently about lead testing in schools and daycares. At the time only six facilities had applied to have the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality test their water for lead— even though the testing is free and 3,700 facilities are eligible.

Since the story was published on July 9, seven more facilities have signed up. It’s still a drop in the bucket, but an improvement that could mean improved health outcomes for kids. Lead is especially harmful to children and drinking water is a significant source of exposure.

The school water testing program came about after the crisis in Flint, Mich., where many children were harmed by lead in the city’s drinking water.

Schools and daycares should not let the fear of finding lead stop them from testing — this is too important. DEQ is posting participating schools at this link, and if you don’t see your community’s school, please share the information with your school administrator (I know I did.)

I’d love to do more reporting on environmental issues that impact kids and schools. Any tips? As always, email and DMs open. Have a great week.

— Jennifer Palmer

In Focus

Oklahoma Offering Free ACT, SAT to Students This Fall

Plus, review a database of the most recent available ACT scores for Oklahoma public schools.

Oklahoma Suicides Climb to Highest Point Since 2006

Last year, 883 Oklahomans died by suicide, according to state medical examiner’s office data. That’s an increase of over 10% from 2019.

As COVID Cases Rise, Oklahoma Sees Increased Insurance Signups

Thousands of Oklahomans gain insurance through President Biden’s Affordable Health Care Act special enrollment.

What I’m Reading

  • A small-town basketball coach is accused of sexually abusing players as the school and law enforcement looked the other way. [The Oklahoman]
  • Thousands of students and teachers are in quarantine as COVID impacts schools, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates and no mask mandates. [The 74 Million]
  • Bus driver shortages are so severe some district are paying parents to drive their own kids. [The Washington Post]
  • Here’s where states’ lawsuits over mask mandates stand. [Forbes]

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