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27 Virginia Beach schools fail lead level tests in water

The school district has gone back and taken offline or replaced the failing drinking water sources and following re-tests, all now have acceptable levels.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach City Public Schools said water testing at several of its schools came back with lead levels above the state and federal limits.

VBCPS said over summer, it focused testing on 33 of its schools that had been constructed during or before 1986.  While most results came back below the threshold, 61 drinking and food-prep sources in 27 of those schools came back with lead levels greater than 15ppb, or what the industry refers to as "actionable levels."

The school district has gone back and taken offline or replaced the failing drinking water sources and following re-tests, all came back below the 15ppb level as of Wednesday morning.

VBCPS reports that 94% of the water tests came back clean, with no concerns of lead-risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency intentionally set the actionable level of 15ppb of lead in water below levels that would pose a risk to children, to ensure that any failing levels could be acted upon before they could worsen to become a danger.

The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health Director Demetria Lindsay said the failed lead tests presented a "very low risk" for public health concerns for children.

RELATED: Testing your water supply for lead

"We understand that this may be concerning news, especially if your child is in one of the schools that was affected," Superintendent Aaron Spence said in a statement. "But we are working closely with the VBDPH and Virginia Beach City Public Utilities, both of which are providing guidance and support. Our testing protocol is in place for this very reason: to identify and correct issues expediently. We are and will remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of our students and staff in VBCPS."

Spence also sent a letter to parents who have students attending the affected schools:

Virginia Beach Schools Chief Operating Officer Jack Freeman said facilities and maintenance crews began receiving reports of the failed lead tests in "mid-September," but VB Schools administration didn't find out or act on the reports until October 25. 

Freeman said the school district is now conducting an "after-action review" to find out what happened in the monthlong period of inaction. He said that review should answer why it took more than a month for the administration to learn about the problems.

The school district has created a website to allow families to learn more about lead water levels and the recent test results.

The schools affected during this testing cycle were: 

  • Bayside High School
  • Bayside Middle School
  • Brandon Middle School
  • Creeds Elementary School
  • Fairfield Elementary School
  • First Colonial High School
  • Green Run Elementary School
  • Holland Elementary School
  • Independence Middle School
  • Kempsville Middle School
  • King's Grant Elementary School
  • Kingston Elementary School
  • Laskin Road Annex
  • Lynnhaven Elementary School
  • Lynnhaven Middle School
  • Malibu Elementary School
  • North Landing Elementary School
  • Pembroke Elementary School
  • Plaza Middle School
  • Princess Anne Elementary School
  • Princess Anne High School
  • Princess Anne Middle School
  • Shelton Park Elementary School
  • Technical and Career Education Center
  • Thalia Elementary School
  • Trantwood Elementary School
  • Bettie F. Williams Elementary School

RELATED: NC gets an 'F' for lead in schools, daycares; new legislation would require testing

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