For the past few months students have been able to observe small red buckets on top of each and every water fountain in the school. This is just one of the many precautions Cathedral Prep has taken to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the admirable goal in putting this measure in place, it may actually do more harm than good.
Firstly, it is incredibly important for people to drink an adequate amount of water. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average man needs to drink around 15.5 cups of water per day, and with the weather getting warmer, hydration is important. A study conducted by the School of Psychology at the University of East London concluded that a proper amount of hydration can improve a student’s brain function by 14%. Restricting access to water fountains could prove potentially harmful to the learning environment for a high school student.
It should be noted that Cathedral Prep does allow students to bring clear water bottles that they can fill up at the bottle fillers attached to the fountains themselves. This is a preferable approach to avoiding the virus according to Angela Rasmussen, a virus researcher at Columbia University. The CDC recommends that schools encourage that students bring water bottles; however, they also state that schools should still allow access to fountains for students who need to use them.
Prep’s concern when covering the water fountains is the transmission of Coronavirus through contact of contaminated surfaces, which the CDC cites as “not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads.” Coronavirus cannot spread through the water itself, so draining from the fountain is not as dangerous for transmission as it may appear. The contaminated surfaces that administration are worried about, such as the handle are just as dangerous as a doorknob or a sink handle.
The advantages of allowing students to get a drink of water without a bottle far outweigh the disadvantages. There are also easy ways to avoid the disadvantages while keeping the fountains open, such as a paper towel students can use to grip the handle, avoiding the primary way germs spread through water fountains or having a bottle of hand sanitizer next to each fountain so students can clean their hands after touching said surfaces. But one thing is for sure, students and teachers are tired of being greeted by a bright red barrier when they go for a drink.