Portland students drinking bottled water due to high lead levels - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland students drinking bottled water due to high lead levels at two schools

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Students and staff at Portland Public Schools are now drinking bottled water after high levels of lead were found in the drinking water at two Portland schools last week.

PPS is now working with the county to have on-site blood testing available for students as soon as next week at both Creston and Rose City Park campuses.

All of this has parents at other Portland schools asking if their children's water was affected too.

"Last week, that's when the board found out, that's when the superintendent found out. Our primary focus has been, okay lets get the water off, lets protect the students, lets make sure they have clean drinking water. That was our massive effort over the weekend. Now we'll turn out attention for the comprehensive testing and also figuring out what went wrong with the communications," said Vice Chair of Board with PPS, Amy Kohnstamm.

The problem with communication and the massive shutdown has many parents asking questions.

"You just wonder, kind of, how long this has been going on. Now they say, 'okay we're shutting off the water' and you sort of worry about it, okay, so now you've done it and maybe they've been drinking that water for the entire year," said parent Wade Symons.

Symons has two children at Llewellyn Elementary.

Symons wants to know who knew what and when, and why precautions weren't taken sooner.

"Why? I mean, I guess that's the big question that all the parents are asking is, why wait?"

The district said they know their aging infrastructure could present problems, and made sure their most recent budget provided funding to explore the issue.

"We have old buildings across the district. Every one of our buildings. It has been a while since we've had comprehensive testing, which is not required," said Kohnstamm. "We're trying to get a handle on: What are we dealing with, what's the level of concern, and what type of response will be needed based on the testing done this summer."

As the school year winds to a close, it remains to be seen whether that response will quench a growing demand for immediate answers.

The school board held a public meeting at Creston to discuss the two affected schools on Tuesday. 

After that meeting, there will be community meeting where officials from the district, the Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County will answer questions parents may have.

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