JACKSON, Miss (AP) — While its water crisis continued, students in Mississippi’s capital were able to return to class for the first time in a week Tuesday with assurances that the toilets and sinks in their buildings would finally work.
Jackson remained under a boil water advisory, but the drop in water pressure that had brought the system to near collapse appeared to be resolved, officials said.
An employee at Jackson Public Schools’ central office confirmed over the phone Tuesday that schools had re-opened after a drop in water pressure forced a move to virtual instruction. In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, the school district said it had “checked water pressure at each school” and found that “nearly all are suitable” for students and staff to return.
The school district said one high school in south Jackson still didn’t have adequate water pressure. Torrential rains and flooding of the Pearl River in late August exacerbated problems at one of Jackson’s two treatment plants, leading to a drop in pressure throughout the city.
“We are still experiencing low water pressure at Forest Hill High School. We are working on a contingency plan for (students) and staff who attend Forest Hill that will allow them to report to alternate sites for instruction,” the statement reads.
In a Monday news conference, Gov. Tates Reeves said water distribution at schools would be scaled down in preparation for students’ return to campuses.
“We are moving those resources to our other water distribution mega-sites,” Reeves said. “Those sites have slowed down in demand a bit, but we have still put out about 5 million bottles of water over the last several days.”
Soon after water stopped flowing through the pipes of many households throughout Jackson, officials rolled a tanker into Forest Hill’s parking lot for water distribution. Santiago Matthews, a maintenance worker for the high school, had a garbage container filled to the brim with water last week to fill toilets for the staff working inside. He hauled the garbage container up a short incline back to the high school with water sloshing over the sides.
Reeves said Monday that the city had “zero water tanks at low levels.” He also said repairs resulting in cleaner water do not eliminate every risk.
“There may be more bad days in the future,” Reeves said.