Easy access to safe and appealing drinking water is important throughout the school day for students and staff and is required as part of school foodservice, including for school year 2021-2022. Schools may have turned off drinking water fountains during the pandemic, however, the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in drinking water and the risk of contracting COVID-19 from surfaces is considered to be low. A new infographic to help schools understand how to safely reopen drinking water fountains was developed by researchers affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research Network. Co-authors include Angie Cradock from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Christina Hecht from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute and coordinator of the National Drinking Water Alliance, Caitlin Merlo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Anisha Patel from Stanford. The infographic was also featured in a California School Boards Association blog post.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools to make potable water available at no charge to students, wherever lunch is served, and when breakfast is served in the cafeteria. For school year 2020-2021, the United States Department of Agriculture allows some flexibilities but continues to require potable water be made available when lunch is served at school and encourages schools to make potable water available in all meal service locations, as safety permits. The National Drinking Water Alliance, coordinated by the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), in collaboration with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, released a new infographic for schools to support increased access to drinking water for students. The infographic, titled "Increasing Drinking Water Availability in Schools During COVID-19 and Beyond", is available for download online. It showcases a variety of ways that schools can make water easily available throughout the campus. It includes tips and links to resources on ensuring safe access to drinking water for schools that are reopening, water testing and sanitation. The infographic also provides links to resources in English and Spanish for schools to promote drinking water to students and improve students' healthy hydration habits.