/Jackson water crisis again impacts schools

Jackson water crisis again impacts schools

Nonprofit Mississippi News Several Jackson public schools switched to virtual instruction this month as the temperatures dropped below freezing. According to Sherwin Johnson (executive director of public engagement, Jackson Public School District), the district is often under a boil-water notice. Schools may not have water because of burst pipes that can occur when temperatures drop below freezing. This can cause a decrease in water pressure. This is exactly what happened this week. Around 4,000 students were affected by low or no water pressure in 11 schools throughout the district. Angela Crudup, who has a youngest child at Lester Elementary, said that she woke up expecting it to be a regular routine of brushing teeth and washing our faces. Instead, it was a trickle of water. “So I immediately pulled all our pots out, just the normal (when there is water issues), which was starkly reminded of February last year,” Crudup said. In February 2021, Jackson residents were without water for several weeks after a winter storm cut off the main water treatment plant. Officials from the city said this week that the plant still needs protection to withstand another similar event. Johnson stated that there have been times when the water system failed beyond winter months because of other problems at the city’s water treatment plant. After losing water pressure in Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan visited Wilkins Elementary. This was November 2021. READ MORE: Jackson’s broken water system Johnson explained that school closures were necessary because of “low water pressure” Johnson stated that it is impossible to flush the toilets or make hot meals. Crudup also states that it is difficult to wash your hands during the pandemic. She works remotely, so school closures are not only inconvenient, but also manageable. Due to COVID exposure, Crudup’s two older children attended school virtually this week. This is a problem for their internet reliability. Crudup stated, “It can cause a lot of headaches.” “My children keep being kicked out from classes because of the Internet so I’m texting them all day, just trying to keep their up to date with what’s happening.” Johnson stated that every student has been provided with a device by the district, but connectivity continues to be a problem. Crudup stated, “I believe that the schools are doing everything they can to send the children home.” “And the same goes with COVID exposure situations — nobody likes to get that call, but at end of the day it’s what’s best.” She continued, “In terms of city, it is the complete opposite.” “I don’t believe that everything is being done…It’s been a year and we know the problems under our streets and we know that this is a problem which could potentially occur every year. It won’t get better unless something is done.” Stephanie Lane is the mother of a second-grader at Key Elementary. Key Elementary is one of the schools affected by the lack water pressure. She shared the same desire for Jackson’s infrastructure problems to be addressed. She said, “Every time there is snow, there are water pressure problems.” She is keeping her son with his grandmother this week. However, she stated that they can’t always switch to virtual due COVID exposure. They don’t want to put their health at risk. Lane stated that COVID is unpredictable and you don’t know when you will be using virtual. “It can be frustrating going back-and-forth.” Lane stated that her son is able to do the virtual lessons but that it can be difficult for him to stay focused when he spends so many hours on the computer. He pays more attention and is more able to learn from his teacher in person, she said. Johnson stated that the district will be partnering with churches, nonprofits, and other organizations to provide internet access and counseling, food, and water for families in dire need. Johnson also stated that they will continue to support educators who teach online and offer after-school enrichment programs to help students master content.