Schools Turned Off Their Water Fountains

Two water fountains with Out of Order signs on them in a school during the pandemic
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Two water fountains with Out of Order signs on them in a school during the pandemic

A small and slightly trivial change that many students and teachers noticed when they returned to school after the COVID-19 pandemic hit was that the water fountains were turned off.

One of the main reasons for the shutdown of water fountains was the concern about the transmission of the virus through touching shared surfaces. Water fountains, with their buttons and spouts that are frequently touched by multiple people, were seen as high-risk areas for the spread of COVID-19. To minimize the risk of transmission, schools chose to turn off the water fountains entirely.

Water fountains can be difficult to clean and disinfect, especially during a pandemic.

While the shutdown of water fountains may have been deemed necessary for the safety of students and staff, it was a creature comfort many missed. Water fountains were a source of refreshment and convenience. There is nothing better than drinking right from a water fountain, especially right after gym class, or fresh from the school yard during recess on a hot day. A whole generation may never know about counting to five while the person ahead of you takes their drink. We always had that limit, and if you wanted another drink, back to the end of the line you went. No hogging. And no drinking all the water in the Mississippi River.

Despite the weirdness of seeing the water fountains with safety tape over them, many schools were able to find creative solutions to keep their students hydrated. Water bottle filling stations were installed in many schools, providing students with a convenient way to refill their bottles and stay hydrated throughout the day. They are operated via touchless sensors, so there were less transmission risks.

If you haven’t been to a school recently, it’s bizarre. Every single student has their own reusable water bottle. Every. Single. Student. What did previous generations do when we didn’t always have non-stop access to our own water supply? We didn’t dry up and disintegrate to dust. We were just fine. Big Water Bottle has this generation wrapped around their finger. I am looking directly at you, Hydro Flask.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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