Arlington, VA

The timing could hardly be worse: during the coronavirus outbreak, as people are urged to frequently wash their hands, Wakefield High School is experiencing water pressure issues in bathrooms.

Emails sent to parents and staff report occasional but recurring water pressure problems that affect second and third floor bathrooms in particular. We’re told the issues cropped up again earlier this week.

As a result, school officials say they’ve propped open bathroom doors — so users don’t have to touch handles — and put hand sanitizer in place. The school is also awaiting delivery and installation of a “booster pump” to help solve the issue.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia suggested it’s an issue with water pressure from county pipes.

“We have identified the problem and are working on a solution,” Bellavia told ARLnow. “The problem is occurring because Wakefield sits at a high point at the end the line.”

Wakefield Principal Chris Willmore sent the following email to parents last night.

Good Evening Wakefield families,

I wanted to share with you recent steps we have taken to protect against the coronavirus.

We are aware of the urgent issue related to low and inconsistent water pressure on the second and third floors and are working closely with Facilities to address it as quickly as possible. Please note that this issue related to water pressure does occur on the first floor occasionally as well, but not as often as the upper floors. While there are no problems with the water pressure on many days, there are days in which it will disappear for 5-20 minute periods of time. This fall and winter, APS Facilities staff repaired or replaced all broken sinks, faucets, and dead batteries and looked closer into the water pressure situation. Facilities is expediting the purchase of a “pump booster” that will supplement the pressure when there is not enough when water enters the building from the county lines. We do not have an estimated delivery or installation date yet and will keep you informed.

In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the Facilities department to identify interim solutions to ensure students can practice good hand-washing hygiene while we await the installation of the booster pump. As an immediate first step, we have secured bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that we will place outside the administrative offices on the second and third floors and at the welcome table in the Town Hall. If there is no water pressure, staff and students can go get hand sanitizer. While it is not convenient, since many times there is water pressure on the first floor, coming down to a bathroom is also an option.

We have also ordered additional door stops for all student bathrooms so that students will not need to touch door handles as they enter or exit.

I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this challenging time. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Best,

Chris

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