Water in schools - what readers say
April 22nd, 2011
12:25 PM ET

Water in schools - what readers say

Tune into "Sanjay Gupta, M.D."7:30A.M. ET  Saturday- Sunday to learn more about water in schools.

This week’s story about the difficulties many children have with getting drinking water at school  prompted a lot of interesting comments. My interest in this story began in December after reading through the actual legislation that President Obama signed into law on that day.

Many people, especially those in politics and media, often make a big deal about the number of pages that make up federal legislation like health care reform, but what always strikes me is the opposite: How little is written to change so much.  Think about it – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 defines nutrition policy for America’s schoolchildren, and it’s 200 pages long with only 25 lines per page. That’s much less text than the book you’d read while sitting on the beach. And the section mandating that every public school across the country provide free drinking water? It's just eight lines long.

It’s so brief in fact it’s easy to miss – but when you think about what it's saying, it's a huge deal. Why is it in there? What is it trying to accomplish? That’s what led to the earlier article, and to all of your comments. Here are just some of the reader comments that struck me, grouped into similar themes.

Many readers shared their personal experiences with dehydration in school.

“My son suffers dehydration at school. His excuse was long lines at the water fountain.” – gman21

“Kids are trained from a young age to be dehydrated all the time. Regardless of any other problem in the diet, that’s a huge issue.” – Mijan

“Only ¼ of the fountains in the buildings actually works, and those aren’t trusted. I simply go all school day with nothing to drink.” –-adloq

“On the days we forget to fill a water bottle for my boy he complains about having been thirsty all day ‘cause he only get like 3 seconds at the water fountain ‘cause only one of the fountains works well and there are so many kids. Ridiculous.” – cyclelogger

Some readers suggested children should bring their own bottles of water to school.

“If your kid isn’t getting enough water, give them a water bottle and fill it up for them to bring to school.” – yoinkmasta10

“Why isn’t a metal or plastic water bottle simply included in the list of school supplies for the year?” – BetterReform

But many schools do not allow bottles.

“Some kid brought alcohol to my kids school last year in a plastic water bottle. As a result, under the school’s “zero tolerance” policy, any student bringing a water bottle to school will be summarily suspended – regardless what the bottle contains.” – Budster90

“We weren’t allowed to bring water bottles to school…it was pretty ridiculous of them to essentially forbid kids from drinking water during class.” – RosaFranklin

“I used to come home from school every single day with a horrible headache. It was lack of water. There simply wasn’t enough time in between classes, and teachers didn’t allow any food or beverages in the class.” – Thinking7

At least two readers reported needing a doctor’s note for their children to be served water with lunch.

“No note, no water.” – Guest

Some readers see the revenue from bottled water as the real reason schools don’t provide better access to water.

“‘If students drink free water served at school instead of purchasing competitive beverages…’ says it all.” – Worldwalker

The issue of bathroom breaks came up too – how kids will need more time to go.

“If they are going to give them enough water, they need to start giving them enough bathroom breaks as well…my daughter refuses to drink anything during the school day because she doesn’t have enough time to use the bathroom.” – SaraBeth4115

There is no problem with water in schools according to some.

“WOW! What a non-story!” – JackK1

Others point out all the waste disposable cups would create, and suggest children be allowed to use bottles.

“Cups are a terrible idea. They cost money, you have to keep putting that money into them, and they create a TON of waste. Do what the Germans did, and give the kids reusable water bottles.” – Techsupp0rt

And one reader did the math on how much time kids at Vista Middle School have to drink from the water fountains there.

“Hmmm…are 4 fountains ‘enough’? 1700 kids/ 4 water fountains for lunch = 425 kids per water fountain. 425 kids / 30 minute lunch period = 14 kids per minute for each fountain. 60 seconds/14 kids = 4.2 seconds per kid to approach the fountain and drink. Sounds like a highly inadequate hydration opportunity to me.” – songwright

Watch Sanjay Gupta MD Saturday at 4:30pm and Sunday at 7:30am ET. For the latest from Sanjay Gupta MD click here.

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