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Reopened Schools Find Health Risks in Water After Covid-19 Lockdowns

The new coronavirus is not the only illness that teachers, students, parents and staff will have to worry about as some schools attempt to reopen this fall. Legionella could lurk in the water supplies of school buildings, and some measures to keep people in schools safe from coronavirus may even increase risks from deadly illnesses caused by the bacteria.

Last week in Ohio, officials found Legionella at five schools in an assortment of towns. On Friday, a district in Pennsylvania also announced it had found Legionella at four of its schools.

To protect against the spread of coronavirus, many school buildings have been unoccupied since March. Their bathrooms, cafeterias and sports facilities have gone unused. While low occupancy in schools is typical during summer breaks, many are open for summer school and other activities. Experts worry that water was left to stagnate in plumbing during lockdown, and that schools don’t have plans or effective guidance from health authorities for dealing with the effects of prolonged shutdowns.

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