Students struggle to get drinking water as campus reopens


Heba Dalu

Water fountains at Akins remain closed because of county mandates for COVID-19 safety.

As students return to in-person learning for the first time in almost 18 months, one concern that has become increasingly prominent is access to drinking water.

While the water fountains on campus do work, Austin ISD has mandated that all water fountains be turned off due to Travis County being in Stage 5 infection rate so that the COVID-19 Delta virus is not transmitted through water fountain use.

Many students on campus have found that the water bottle fillers do not work, but according to Principal Tina Salazar, administrators are working on fixing them soon.

With water fountains and bottle fillers unavailable, this leaves many students questioning how they are supposed to get water on campus.

Senior Julian Reyna, a track athlete, said he is anxious about the current water situation.

“By early afternoon, I’ve already finished the water in my water bottle and I’m already looking for a refill station but they’re not working,” he said.

He also says that he’s concerned about athletes like himself who tend to drink more water than the average person to stay hydrated for sports events.

“Yesterday, at practice after school, I ran out of water because I drank all of it during the school day,” he said.

Salazar said she is recommending that for now that students bring their own water bottles just like in-person students did last year.

“The district is sending us some water but not enough for all our students every day. We are going to begin to ask the community for donations of water bottles for our students,” Salazar said.

Salazar believes that the current water situation could last as long as it is unsafe to use due to the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 Delta variant through use.

“The water fountains will not be open until Austin ISD mandates that they can be opened,” Salazar said.