SCS chief says water safe; tests find lead in more schools

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said Tuesday he’s confident the water your kids drink at school is safe, as the district announced more schools had high levels of lead in some water sources.

The latest positive results came from Airways Achievement Academy, Brownsville Elementary, East High School, Ida B. Wells Academy, Jackson Elementary, Macon-Hall Elementary, SCS Prep School -Northeast (Macon), SCS Prep School- Northwest (Pyramid), Sherwood Middle, Southwind High School, Trezevant Career and Technical and Trezevant High School.

The district said all of the impacted water sources were shut off.

Last week, the district reported that 24 of its schools tested positive for traces of lead in water from fountains, sinks or coolers.

SCS Superintendent Joris Ray conducted a tour of Idlewild Elementary on Tuesday, showing affected water fountains that had been shut off and even drinking from one fountain to show that it was safe.

“The water is safe. The fountains and coolers with lead sources, we shut them down,” Ray said. “I want to be transparent, and I want parents to know that I would never put their children in harm’s way.”

More than 3,000 samples were taken from faucets, water fountains and ice machines. State law only requires SCS to test schools built before 1998 but the district says it tested all of them, and is now taking the proper steps to ensure your kids have safe drinking water.

The district has already started its corrective plan and says it will retest within the next three months.

“We have 160-plus schools,” Ray said. “You’re talking about a handful of water sources out of probably the thousands out of the water sources we have. One is too much for  me. However, I think we taken a proactive stance.”

Free screenings are available for students at Memphis public schools where elevated lead levels have been detected. The Shelby County Health Department said student lead screening and testing will be available starting Tuesday at its clinics during regular business hours.

The following schools tested positive for lead:

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  • B T Washington High School
  • Berclair Elementary
  • Central High School
  • Charjean Elementary
  • Chickasaw Middle School
  • Double Tree Elementary
  • Douglass (Pre-K)
  • Douglass Elementary/Middle
  • Egypt Elementary
  • Gardenview Elementary
  • Havenview Middle
  • Idlewild Elementary
  • Keystone Elementary
  • Kingsbury Elementary
  • Kingsbury Vocational
  • Raleigh Egypt High
  • Ridgeway Middle
  • Sheffield High
  • South Park Elementary
  • Treadwell Middle
  • Westside Elementary
  • Whitehaven Elementary STEM School
  • Whitehaven High
  • Wooddale High
  • Airways Achievement Academy
  • Brownsville Elementary
  • East High School
  • Ida B Wells Academy
  • Jackson Elementary
  • Macon-Hall Elementary
  • SCS Prep School – Northeast (Macon)
  • SCS Prep School – Northwest (Pyramid)
  • Sherwood Middle
  • Southwind High
  • Trezevant Career and Technical
  • Trezevant High

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