Photo by Evangeline Fox
By Caitlyn Freeman
According to an updated tentative schedule released by Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS), the county plans to complete its first round of initial sampling to test for the presence of lead in school drinking water outlets by the week of December 10th. Sampling for Arundel High is expected to be conducted on Saturday, December 15th, according to Arundel administrators.
Erin Snell, a member of community group Anne Arundel Connecting Together, mentioned the updated schedule in her testimony at the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County Meeting on Wednesday, November 14th. The announcement was confirmed by board president, Julie Hummer.
In her response to Snell’s mention of the updated schedule, Hummer said that the county has been “actively pursuing a second […] testing facility for several months,” and that as soon as that lab was obtained, they were able to develop an expedited schedule.
“We are gonna be finished with the testing portion, hopefully weather permitting, and other things coming through, by December. Which is well ahead of the requirement of the state law before July […] and we will be testing all of those things,” Hummer added.
“The website that we put together with all the information and all the testing results is now being copied and emulated by all the other districts in the in the state because we were the first one to do that and to have it out there,” Hummer said.
Anne Arundel Connecting Together, an organization “focused on building community power,” in Anne Arundel County, has been advocating for an expedited testing schedule through meetings and public testimony since the beginning of the school year. ACT has focused primarily on expedited testing in schools with a younger student demographic and older buildings.
It is unclear whether ACT’s advocacy influenced the adoption of a new testing schedule.
According to Snell, the organization got involved with the testing as a result of concerns from parents. ACT was also concerned about parents not knowing about the testing.
Bob Mosier, AACPS Chief Communications Officer, said “most of what [ACT] asked for us to do, we were already in the process of doing.”
ACT representatives first met with Dr. George Arlotto, Superintendent of AACPS, on Tuesday, August 29th. They asked Arlotto to expedite the testing process because of concerns about students at schools who have yet to receive testing.
“If you do it faster, kids will be safer,” Snell says the group told Arlotto.
ACT also asked the county to instruct the schools to tell kids to stop consuming untested water. “The school system said that wasn’t the route they were gonna take,” Snell said.
ACT met with Arlotto again on Thursday, November 1st. During that meeting, ACT representatives asked about speeding up the testing process.
According to materials from the county web page for testing information and updates, 443 non-consumable school water outlets have tested positive for contents of lead, and 79 consumable water outlets have also tested positive.
For updates about the testing process and school by school results, visit https://www.aacps.org/watertestresults