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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Classes will resume Monday for Joseph Sibilly Elementary School students who were sent home earlier this week due to contaminated drinking water at the north side school.
After a report of contamination by volatile organic chemicals to the drinking water was leaked to the press Friday, Aug. 21, the Education Department reported the problem publicly on Monday and hastily called a meeting with parents and teachers for Wednesday.
Superintendent Rosalia Payne had nothing to offer at that meeting on what the contaminants were and what side affects parents or doctors should look for.
A press release from Education this Friday said Payne met with officials from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources late Thursday afternoon to discuss the school's water problems.
Christine Lottes, supervisor of the Public Water Supervision Program in the Division of Environmental Protection of Planning and Natural Resources, said, "The levels of the chemicals found in the cisterns at the Sibilly school pose no threat to the health of the students who have come in contact with them. Although the chemicals exceeded the maximum contaminant levels set by EPA, the potential for adverse health effects due to short-term exposure are minimal."
"Health risks could occur if the exposure was over a long period of time such as seven years or more," according to the release.
Lottes did not say where her information came from.
It was revealed at Wednesday's meeting that the water at Sibilly school was last tested for volatile organic chemicals in 1995 — five years ago.
Classés will resume Monday since the work to empty and clean cisterns has been completed, the release said. Water will be supplied from large plastic tanks for "sanitary necessities for the students and staff."
Ruby Simmonds, commissioner of Education, told Radio One news that all water will be obtained from the Water and Power Authority and will be delivered by a truck from the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation.
Since no one has been able to identify the source of the contaminants, parents raised concerns Wednesday that they may have come from some of the truckers who deliver water to the school.
Meals for the students will be prepared at Charlotte Amalie High School and delivered to Sibilly.
Kindergarten students with last names A-L are to report Monday with their parents; those with last names M-Z are to report Tuesday, with their parents. There will be an orientation from 8 a.m. to 12 noon both days. Wednesday marks the first full day for kindergarten students.
The release did not indicate how the lost days will be made up.

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