How To Deal Without A Drinking Water Fountain At Schools

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus in 2019, many schools across the country took a “better safe than sorry” approach to the virus. By removing water fountains from campuses, schools tried to limit the spread of the highly contagious disease. This idea, in theory, seemed like a positive one at first. But one unfortunate side effect was schools and parents decided to issue plastic water bottles to children.

It is a good idea for everyone to have a personal water bottle. It helps to cut down on beverage sharing that can lead to germ-spreading. But it is obviously a mistake to so greatly increase the dependency on plastic bottles, which is what most of those who removed drinking fountains did. Reusing a single plastic bottle is much more admirable than relying on a new bottle every time. However, using a plastic bottle is still problematic. Learn more about why your reusable plastic bottle isn’t cutting it and what you can do about it. 

In short, you should consider replacing your reusable plastic bottle with a certified 90-percent post-consumer recycled stainless steel bottle. It is one of the most straightforward, effective ways you can upgrade your beverage game. It also benefits the environment. Plastic water bottles might be branded as “reusable,” but there is a definite limit to that. Ultimately, they remain a problem to the environment. They degrade with each use. They leach chemicals into your food and drinks. They stain, and they retain odors and flavors. And, when it’s finally time to discard them, they take hundreds of years to decompose.

Many parents and school administrators face the problem of providing water for children while keeping them safe from coronavirus. Let’s start by examining whether removing fountains is the right solution at all.

How Sanitary is Drinking From a Water Fountain?

Public water fountains range in levels of hygiene, depending on a number of factors. Stainless steel fountain construction tends to be more hygienic, for example, than ceramic or stone fountains. This is because there is less porous surface area for bacteria and germs to live and spread. Even on those less-hygienic fountains, it is common to see stainless steel fixtures on the faucets, spigots, and hardware.

As long as the water is treated and running, drinking from a water fountain is relatively sanitary. Very little contact normally occurs between someone drinking from the fountain and the apparatus itself. The most pressing concern about public water sources is how well the water has been treated. If your child is pressing their mouth directly onto the faucet, that’s a different story. Direct contact is more dangerous, so holding onto the fountain basin as they drink for long periods of time could mean an increased risk of viral or bacterial transmission.

One Penn State study found that almost 70 percent of students drink from water fountains instead of buying bottled water. So, it’s clear a large number of students would be impacted by the inclusion of a new water bottle. As always, our goal is to make sure those are not single-use plastics. But even in areas where water fountains are available, it’s worth questioning how sanitary they are. The Penn State study recommended several steps for ensuring safe drinking habits from public fountains. You should be running the water for a few seconds before starting to drink. Avoid placing your mouth anywhere on the surface area of the fountain. Refrain from touching the base of the drinking fountain And, of course, it’s always safe to wash your hands after using public faucets.

Do Water Fountains Use Purified Water?

two kids getting a drink from a school drinking fountain

Mostly, yes, the water that comes from public fountains is overwhelmingly safe to drink. It usually has been treated, or purified, at a central municipal plant. There, a number of safe-to-drink chemicals kill the harmful germs in the water before it circulates to public tap lines. Generally speaking, public water fountains do not distribute “purified” water in the way that we might think of “purification.” This water is not going through a high-quality micro-filtration system like we might install at home or use in a pitcher.

But are water fountains safe? At the fountain, sediment filters stop sand or rust particles from entering the water you drink. Running water supplies in developed areas are at very low risk for viral contamination. So drinking the water itself is not typically how COVID spreads through fountains. Instead, it is the touching and sharing of the fountain apparatus itself that is more responsible for the spread. More likely, it could be the close proximity of people standing in line to use the fountain.

Not all public water fountains are created equal. Some areas of the country with older infrastructure still feature lead pipes in their plumbing. This includes water fountains. However, this risk is completely unrelated to communicable illness. As technology improves and becomes safer, these older systems become rarer and rarer. But there remains a lot to be said for knowing that the water you’re drinking is safe.

It stands to reason, then, that when it comes to drinking water at school, perhaps the best option is to bring your own. You can fill from your own filtered, purified water supply at home into your child’s personal container. Then you can rest assured that they’ll be drinking the best water you can find. This also means you won’t have to worry about germs they might encounter at a water fountain. And as we showed earlier, the way to do that is not with a plastic bottle.

Best Water Bottles to Replace the Water Fountain at School

Klean Kanteen has a wide, diverse selection of water bottles. Any one of them can help children of all ages stay hydrated on campus if they don’t have access to public drinking water fountains. No matter if you’ve got a grade-school kid or a teenager in high school, there is a Klean Kanteen for them. Kids will enjoy having their own unique styles to show off. More importantly, they’ll have a sanitary, sturdy water bottle of their very own. And with a wide selection of cap options, there is always a perfect combination for each child. Our TKWide caps with internal thread design can be paired with our Chug, Straw, Café, and Wide Loop lids. Or, they can go for our Classic bottle with a Sport Cap, created with easy drinking for kids in mind. Any one of these will ensure clean drinking water is always on hand for your children throughout their school day.

Insulated TKWide Bottles With Straw

Available in several sizes, the insulated TKWide bottle features long-insulating construction for refreshing, cold water all day long. No school water fountain is going to be providing better water than your child can drink from their own bottle. The TKWide bottle is a perfect option for quick, convenient hydration throughout the day. It pairs with the twist cap, which features a short silicon straw combined with an interior steel straw. The default lid for these bottles also is equipped with a sturdy swivel loop that can attach to backpacks or bookbags. Our vacuum-insulated 20-ounce TKWide bottle was designed with versatility, and portability in mind. This approach helped create the best water bottle, sport bottle, and insulated cup, all in one package.

Insulated TKWide Bottles with Chug Cap

High temperatures and active lifestyles require fast hydration. A larger-sized Klean Kanteen TKWide bottle, paired with the efficient, smooth-drinking Chug Cap, is a terrific option for those who need it. The wide spout allows for fast fluid intake when they’re needed the most. The Chug Cap’s versatile design features a convenient spout cover, which protects against spills. And because the Chug Cap features our TK Closure internal thread design, it will keep drinks ice cold throughout the whole day. Our vacuum insulated 32-ounce TKWide also serves as an excellent choice for thirsty kids without access to a sanitary water drinking fountain.

Insulated Kid Classic 12 oz with Sport Cap

Parents of smaller kids will appreciate our 12-ounce bottles. They work great for little hands with big thirsts. They are available in a range of fun colors, patterns, and designs that will match any child’s style. Plus, the no-spill Sport Cap features a soft, silicone spout and improved valve, completely removable for easy cleaning. The Sport Cap is packed full of useful features. It’s dishwasher safe, features a handy attachment loop, and provides easy, one-handed operation. For its quiet performance, removable spout, and 25-percent higher flow rate, the insulated Kid Classic with Sport Cap is an outstanding replacement for water fountains for all kids 4 and up.

Non-Insulated Wide Mouth

For a perfect companion to crowded bookbags and backpacks, the lightweight non-insulated Wide Mouth Klean Kanteen is a great choice. Just like its insulated counterparts, it’s made of certified post-consumer recycled 18/8 stainless steel. This ensures clean drinking water and durability for life—which will come in handy as it stands up to the activities of your kid’s busy day. The Classic 18-ounce is our original stainless steel water bottle designed for kids and adults with easy hydration in mind. Single-wall design is lightweight, small and easy to bring anywhere. And our Klean Coat powder coat finish is durable, chip-resistant and safe for both your children and the environment. The 18-ounce size features a narrow profile for easier gripping, packing and carrying. The non-insulated Wide Mouth Klean Kanteen comes in the classic 18- and 27-ounce sizes. Paired with our convenient Sport Cap, it makes for a perfect, lightweight option for everyday hydration.

Drinking from water fountains is not inherently unsafe. However, it’s ultimately better to have a personal water bottle on hand. And it’s definitely better for those bottles to be sustainable and high-quality. If you do not have access to a water fountain, it’s time to make the one-time investment of a stainless steel water bottle that will last you forever, helping you drink safely while protecting the planet in the long term.