Boil Water Advisory Guidance Q&A

Questions and Answers about SCHD's Boil Water Advisory Guidance for Schools and Daycares:

Is tap water safe for handwashing? 
Yes, it is safe for regular handwashing for ages kindergarten through 12th grade. However, an alternative handwashing station is required for use before meal consumption.

Are handwashing stations in the kitchens okay to use?

Please describe an alternative handwashing station.
Any dispenser like a Gatorade dispenser filled with sanitized water can be used to dispense water on the children’s hands and rinse off soap. A basin can be placed underneath to catch the runoff water. 

How is MLGW prioritizing main repairs?
According to Doug McGowan, MLGW CEO, MLGW is repairing broken mains as soon as they are identified. 

How does low water pressure across the city impact fire suppression systems (sprinklers) in schools?
Contact your local fire department.

What about Early Childhood classrooms? Is there specific guidance for those facilities?
Because little children put their hands in their mouths often, alcohol based hand sanitizer is not recommended for them. Hand washing stations utilizing sanitized water and soap are recommended for preschool aged children.

Is it safe to assume that no running water should automatically equate to school closure?

Is there a chance for a loss of pressure later in a school where there is currently good pressure now?Please contact MLGW. 

Can you clarify again the guardrails for water use when cleaning food prep stations and when washing hands to prepare food? 
Boiled or sanitized water must be used to clean hands, dishes and utensils. One teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach can be added per gallon of water for use in dishwashing systems.

Can you please describe an alternative hand washing station?
Any dispenser like a Gatorade dispenser filled with sanitized water can be used to dispense water on the children’s hands and rinse off soap. A basin can be placed underneath to catch the runoff water.A

If the schools are closed, do you all need a staff member present to meet with SCHD on standby for this week? 

Is the DOE on board with alternative handwashing stations for early childhood?
SCHD has not consulted with DOE, but is recommending closure for early childhood facilities unless safe, sanitized water can be provided or is accessible for all uses. 

Will schools be required to receive an All Clear from the SCHD to open and/or use potable water in kitchens once the Boil Water Advisory is lifted? 

Our school has 3-5-year-olds who are under DOE guidelines. If we do not have clean and running water for handwashing, does that mean we need to be closed for these ages? It sounds like you are saying that they may not come to school. Just want to make sure.
Please confer with DOE. 

When are the walkthroughs happening? I ask this only to know the frequency of staff members being present if school is closed. 
SCHD will conduct walkthroughs during the week of January 22-26, 2024. 

Are there any requirements or recommendations - either SCHD or MLGW - about flushing water pipes, changing bottle filler station filters, etc. as a part of the re-opening?
Please contact MLGW. 

How long do you all project for the boil water advisory to last? I know you don't have explicit answers, but just thinking about the potential of long term closures. 
Please contact MLGW.

Is hand sanitizer not acceptable for the preschool age?
Handwashing with sanitized water is preferred for that age range.

Once the Boil Water Advisory is lifted, will water systems need to be flushed in schools before water is used?
Please contact MLGW. 

How do we communicate if we wish to visit our school on Monday to go over our protocols? 
Contact Kasia Smith-Alexander at

Can water placed in the microwave be used?
That method of boiling is not recommended. Stovetop heating is preferred. 

Guidance from MLGW for after the Boil Water Advisory is lifted:

  • Turn on the main water valve if it has been closed. 
  • Flush any faucet for a minimum of two minutes to ensure the clearing of the line serving the faucet. 
  • Begin with the faucet that is highest up in your home or building and then open the other faucets one at a time moving from the highest floor to the lowest. 
  • Discard any ice made during the boil water notice. 
  • Check water filters (in faucets, refrigerators, and elsewhere) and replace them if necessary.
  • Owners and managers of large buildings should ensure that their entire system is flushed and that storage tanks are drained and refilled. 

If the water is discolored: 

  • Flush water pipes by running the water until it is clear. 
  • Do not wash clothes if the water is discolored. Wait until the water runs clear at the tap. Wash a load of dark clothes first. 

 Updated January 22, 2024 at 8:53 a.m.