Water Restored To ME Elementary; Employees Voice Health Concerns

Aug 29, 2019

Mikelnguut Elitnaurviat Elementary School in Bethel, Alaska
Credit Gabby Salgado / KYUK

Running water has been restored to Mikelnguut Elitnaurviat Elementary School in Bethel, according to Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Dan Walker. LKSD employees concerned about unhealthy conditions at the school said that classes should have been canceled during the water outage.

The school operated without running water for most of the day on Tuesday and for the entire school day on Wednesday. A shipping delay prolonged the situation by stalling the necessary repair part in Anchorage. The school district fixed the broken water pipe late Wednesday afternoon.

KYUK talked with four LKSD employees who all corroborated the same details. None of them wanted their names to be used in this story because they had not received permission from their supervisor to talk with KYUK about the situation. 

All the employees called the conditions during the water outage unsanitary and said that parents had not been notified of the lack of water. They said that no water had been provided in the facility for hand washing during the outage. However, hand sanitizer had been provided. They said that toilets were only occasionally flushed throughout the day by pouring water from a five-gallon bucket. One employee said that students were gagging from the smell. They said that teachers were walking their students to the adjacent Gladys Jung Middle School or the LKSD Office to use the toilets or to wash their hands. The employees said that classrooms were given gallon jugs of water with disposable cups to use for drinking water.

Mikelnguut Elitnaurviat teaches kindergarten through second grade and has about 260 students.