VB schools recaps findings from lead testing and outlines steps for the future

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach school district is getting closer to putting their water woes behind them. 

Since November, 10 On Your Side has been reporting on the lead levels found in more than two dozen Virginia Beach schools. Since that time, the district has been working to make sure other schools haven’t been affected by the elevated levels.

School officials say they’re just weeks away from completing testing on all schools built before 1986.

Results from the second round of testing show that out of 490 water samples taken from 10 schools, only 13 samples came back with elevated lead levels.

“So a little bit less than 3 percent came back above threshold and they were all immediately mitigated and retested and they’re all below 15 parts per billion,” said Jack Freeman, chief of operations for VBCPS.

Freeman presented an after-action review of the lead situation that talked about what challenges they faced during testing and what steps they plan to take for the future.

Communication and the delay in notifying parents of the elevated samples was a big point of concern, but the officials say they’ve worked to make sure the district is as transparent as possible moving forward.

WAVY News is told the district began following what’s called 3T guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency.  

“It really covers step by step what to do process-wise to conduct testing, to prepare for conducting testing and how you communicate with the broader community,” Freeman said.

Looking ahead, 20 percent of schools will be tested each year and the district will be adding water testing language to its policies and regulations.

VBCPS is also working to advocate for better legislation to help other schools who might find themselves in this situation.

“Right now the legislative guidance really refers to what outlets should be tested. That’s really all that it says. There is much more detail that needs to be addressed,” said Freeman. “That’s why we’re asking for greater legislation. It doesn’t reference a specific action level so we’ve chosen, which is relatively restrictive at this point in time, 15 parts per billion to take action on.”

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