Water dispensers gone, fountains return

Alice Stillerman

Four months into the school year, water fountains are re-entering the picture. The transition away from water dispensers is a welcome change for many, as empty dispensers have caused frustration among students.

The DC Health Department, which makes the decisions regarding COVID-19 for schools, follows the CDC guidelines, and recently permitted the use of water fountains in schools. 

The dispensers, which are outsourced to a private contractor by DCPS, were implemented for the first time this school year, aiming to limit the spread of COVID-19. While the dispensers themselves stay the same, the large water jugs inside of them must be rotated once empty. Tenth-grade assistant principal Steven Miller explained that the cause of the empty water dispensers throughout the day is due to a lack of the water jugs. 

Wilson receives a delivery of the water jugs twice a week, but if the school runs out earlier than the next expected delivery, they can request to receive the next delivery sooner. 

“They have been late with several deliveries,” Miller said. When the deliveries are late, there are no water jugs to fill the water dispensers, meaning there is no water. If there are extra water jugs in storage, the custodians will go around and refill the dispensers throughout the day. 

Sophomore Louise Reyes-Galivan has tried to use the water dispensers during her PE class multiple times, but says she has “only successfully refilled [her] water bottle once this year.” Reyes-Gavilan observed that it has been frustrating to many students to not be able to refill their water bottle especially after exerting energy in PE where it is easy to get dehydrated. 

Since the water fountains are in the process of being turned back on, Miller believes the water dispensers will begin to be phased out. “As the science started to develop and show that COVID-19 wasn’t transmitted through surfaces nearly as much as initially thought, a lot of [guidelines] have been relaxing,” Miller added. Once Wilson is out of water jugs, he suspects the dispensers will be taken away. •