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E. coli Case Shuts Down Schools


By Dan Hounsell Plumbing & Restrooms
Escherichia coli bacterium, E.coli

Facility managers in institutional and commercial facilities have a range of tasks, projects and priorities they must attend to daily, but no priority is higher than ensuring the health and safety of their staffs and other building occupants. In the case of K-12 school districts, the occupants in question are students and teachers, and the measures to protect them include avoiding contact with potential health hazards in buildings and building systems.

In Long Beach, N.Y., three elementary schools recently closed temporarily because of a "boil water" order for possible E. coli contamination, as school officials told parents that the district was notified that a student who lives within city limits has been diagnosed with a suspected E. coli infection, according to Newsday.

"In an abundance of caution, we are going to close East, West, and Lindell schools tomorrow," according to a statement the school district posted to its web page and Facebook account. "Although we can provide adequate bottled water for students and staff to drink, we cannot guarantee proper hand-washing among students. Even though this is really precautionary, and we have been assured by the city that they hope that the alert will be lifted soon, we do not want to take any chances with the health and safety of our students and staff."

About 35,000 residents had been directed to boil water for drinking, brushing teeth, washing hands when preparing food and bathing infants. Tap water must be boiled for one minute, experts said. Officials have previously said there were no reported cases of illness.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

 

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