State health and education officials have launched a database for accessing water test results for lead in Oregon schools. The tool provides an interactive map of Oregon and displays results for individual school buildings across the state.
The mapping tool acts as a one-time source for sharing information as schools transition from providing individual test results on their websites to submitting Healthy and Safe School Facilities plans to the Oregon Department of Education in 2017. It is scheduled to remain online until the end of the current 2016-17 school year and is not intended to replace communication with school staff or administrators. Parents and others should direct questions about testing results to their local district.
“Our schools are a launch pad for learning and development, which is why healthy schools are critical to supporting the well-being of Oregon children,” said Lillian Shirley, the director of the Public Health Division at the Oregon Health Authority. “This tool allows us to share preliminary school lead in water results clearly, and reflects our commitment to transparency.”
With increased attention to lead in water in Oregon’s public school facilities, Governor Kate Brown last spring requested that OHA and ODE review existing state programs and create a plan to address lead in school water and other environmental concerns.
“This database is an accessible and transparent resource for augmenting information that school districts are already sharing with their communities,” said Rick Crager, ODE assistant superintendent of finance and administration.
Curtis Cude, OHA’s environmental public health surveillance program manager agreed.
“We expect a range of community members, whether parents, school staff, or state officials, will be interested in learning more about the challenges and opportunities experienced by local schools,” Cude said.
Cude said state officials acknowledge that lead testing data is technical and can be difficult to understand, so in addition to a navigable map, they are providing a FAQ to help translate and decipher testing results and a video tutorial for how to use the map.
Since spring 2016 state officials have launched a series of strategies to address environmental public health challenges in Oregon schools. While state agencies do not have statutory authority to mandate testing for lead in school drinking water, it has been strongly recommended that all schools test their facilities.