Published: June 2019

ID #: 74374

Journal: Prev Med Rep

Authors: Cradock AL, Jones SE, Merlo C

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Ensuring safe, accessible drinking water in schools is a national health priority. The objective of this study was to identify whether there are differences in water quality, availability, and education- related practices in schools by demographic characteristics. In 2017–2018, we analyzed data from the 2014 School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS), a nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of US schools. Analyses examined differences in water-related practices by school characteristics. Response rates for the 3 questionnaires used in this analysis ranged from 69%–94% (Ns ranged from 495 to 577). We found that less than half of schools flush drinking water outlets after periods of non-use (46.4%), conduct periodic inspections that test drinking water outlets for lead (45.8%), and require staff training on drinking water quality (25.6%). Most schools teach the importance of water consumption (81.1%) and offer free drinking water in the cafeteria (88.3%). Some water-related school practices differed by school demographic characteristics though no consistent patterns of associations by school characteristics emerged. In US schools, some water quality-related practices are limited, but water availability and education-related practices are more common. SHPPS data suggest many schools would benefit from support to implement best practices related to school-drinking water.

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