Primrose Elementary School parents frustrated with water woes forcing students to use outdoor toilets

A school near Shelburne, Ont. has been without adequate water supply for the first month since students returned to the classroom, leaving many parents frustrated and calling on the school board to be more transparent.

Primrose Elementary School in Mulmur has been using portable toilets and trailer bathrooms after it was discovered there was no water pressure in the school on Sept. 9.

According to the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB), the issue was caused by a low level in the school’s well.

But parents say they have been calling on the board to address water concerns since the spring, first bringing up water drinking safety.

“We just want to know what they’re going to do and when they’re going to fix it,” said Amber Gallaugher, Vice Chair of the Primrose School Council. “We want to know when our kids are actually going to have running water.”

Gallaugher said the UGDSB went silent over the summer, even as parents attempted to contact it for an update on the water condition.

“The first time we heard from the board was the second day of school when the school was closed due to lack of water,” she added. “That’s unacceptable.”

The UGDSB undertook a change in the superintendents through the summer but said it was still working on the water challenges.

“Over the summer, there was an engineering firm that said the well is working,” said Belal Taha, Superintendent of Education. “But on day two, we discovered that wasn’t the case.”

An update to parents on Sept. 14 said cleaning out of the base of the current well was unsuccessful, meaning a new well needs to be drilled.

A water tanker was installed last weekend and has since allowed water pressure to return to the school.

But for Claire Boone, who has a daughter in Grade 8, it’s not reassuring that the portable toilets have been left on site as a backup.

“Shame on you. It should’ve been taken care of. These are our children,” she said. “This should’ve been addressed much sooner, and we should’ve been kept in the loop.”

Superintendent Taha said he is working on improving transparency with parents.

“I have, over the past two weeks, begun sending out letters,” he added. “This is frustrating for everyone.”

Taha said a design for a new well should be completed by October. However, there has yet to be any indication as to when it will be drilled.

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