DC COVID Policies Leave Hundreds of Students Without Clean Drinking Water

School workers forced to make Costco runs after water supply runs dry

D.C. Public Schools classroom /
October 6, 2021

Washington, D.C., school employees were forced to drive to Costco for clean water after the city shut down drinking fountains as part of its stringent COVID-19 policies, according to a local teacher.

D.C. has shut off drinking fountains in public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic as a "health and safety measure," but it has failed to maintain supplies for hundreds of children. Bethany Rosera, a teacher at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, told the Washington Free Beacon her school ran out of the water jugs the district had provided as an alternative on Tuesday, leaving students and educators without drinking water.

"We ran out of water [on Tuesday] and our admin drove twice to Costco to fill up their own car with water in the middle of the day so we could get through the end of the day and have some for [Wednesday] if a delivery didn't occur," Rosera said.

The school "communicated with [D.C. Public Schools] about the situation but the water was still not replaced," Rosera said, so she took to Twitter on Tuesday to bring attention to the situation. After her Twitter thread went viral, a delivery truck arrived at the school first thing Wednesday morning to replace the water. Rosera attributed the city's prompt response to the attention her posts received.

Stuart-Hobson Middle School declined to comment but referred the Free Beacon to a spokesman for D.C. Public Schools, who did not return a request for comment.

Other district schools have reported similar outages. Another D.C. teacher, Liana Ponce, claimed her school, Brightwood Education Campus, underwent the same situation this week and "had no clean drinking water for three days."

Democratic mayor Muriel Bowser has forced schools to adopt some of the strictest COVID-19 protocols in the country, including "universal masking," "physical distancing," and weekly testing of 10 percent of students. Rosera, who has been a district teacher since 2015, said that even before the school ran out of water, it was a "logistical nightmare" for middle schoolers to use the water coolers. She said she was upset that it took public attention for the D.C. Public Schools administration to take action and was frustrated with the district's lack of responsiveness to the needs of students and teachers.

"They have a continued pattern: they'll ignore issues/not provide what they need to ... until the community learns about the problem and it sparks outrage with the parents," Rosera said. "And then, only the 'loudest' problems get solved immediately. There are schools with problems that aren't tweeted about that aren't acknowledged at all."

Bowser's office did not return a request for comment.