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Water still a concern as DeKalb students return after water-main break

DeKalb County students returned to school this morning, a day after a water-main break caused classes to be canceled, but water remained a concern.

Thursday, parents, students and teachers took to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, either complaining they were yet to receive water deliveries, or asking when their shipment would arrive.  

LaSonya Carter said she sent her daughter to school at Lithonia Middle School this morning with two bottles of water. For lunch, her daughter was fed cheese and crackers, milk and a bowl of fruit. 

No additional water was supplied for any use, her daughter told her. 

“I’m assuming they didn’t give out what they didn’t have,” she said.  

Andre Riley, a DeKalb County School District spokesman, reiterated on Thursday the district’s statement that water would be supplied to schools “for food preparation, consumption and handwashing,” and that parents and volunteers were being asked to provide water as well. 

“This is to make sure we have enough water on hand to meet the need of every student,” he said. 

He said about two dozen trucks were on the road late Thursday morning delivering water to schools. 

County officials said 36,288 bottles of water were delivered to the school district this morning. The DeKalb Association of Realtors, among other local groups, dropped off donations as well. 

But students on social media said they received no water through the end of the day, with no water to wash their hands or, in some cases, just hand sanitizer. Several people replied to DeKalb County Schools’ tweet about schools reopening, saying virtual learning might have been a better answer given the various buildings’ water issues. 

Sandra Elizabeth Ford, district health director for the DeKalb County Board of Health, said it is recommended that homes have a three-day supply — with about 72 ounces per person a day — of water handy for each resident in case of emergency. Businesses and schools should have a stash as well, she said. 

“Just to be on the safe side,” she said. “When a water main breaks, contaminants are about to get into the water. When water sits, it’s easy for it to pick up sediment. Of course, you can boil water as well. But even if it’s clear, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any contaminants in it. 

“Until everything is flushed out a few days (bottled water) is just better.” 

City Schools of Decatur students, also affected by the DeKalb spill, never attended class Wednesday. Officials initially delayed the school day’s start Wednesday, then decided to cancel classes. No issues were reported with water in that school district, which educates some 5,600 students.

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