Only one other school in Our World has completed state-mandated tests
by Mark Craddock
WALSENBURG — Lead above acceptable safe levels has been found in at least 19 of 78 fixtures at Walsenburg’s Peakview School.
According to a report by Huerfano RE-1 Superintendent Michael Moore, access to those fixtures was suspended immediately upon receiving test results.
Those fixtures have now been turned off and will ultimately be removed. “If they are deemed necessary for operations,” Moore wrote, “they will be replaced with new up-to-date fixtures.”
At Monday’s Huerfano RE-1 School Board meeting, Maintenance Supervisor Doug Olsen said that one more fixture has been identified as exceeding lead standards, and testing at the school is continuing.
Peakview’s lead testing is in response to a new Colorado law signed in June of last year which requires all licensed child care programs and public schools pre-K through 5th grade to test their drinking water for lead, and to take action if the levels of lead are at or above five parts per billion (ppb).
The new law spurred the “Test and Fix Water for Kids” program through the Colordo Department of Public Helth and Environment, to help schools meet the law’s requirements.
The CDPHE has provided free supplies and guidance for lead testing in the schools.
So far, the state has 998 schools enrolled in the program, along with 1,101 child care facilities and 356 family child care homes. Some 9,218 samples have been taken and, as of Tuesday, the state lists 569 locations where action is required.
A query of CDPHE online data shows that all the school districts in Our World are enrolled in the program, but as of Tuesday only Primero Reorganized #2 has Joined Huerfano RE-1 in reporting lead-testing results so far.
All 19 fixtures at Primero Elementry tested below 5 ppb and are deemed safe.
No tests have been reported so far for La Veta RE-2; Trinidad District #1; Hoehne Reorganized #3; and Aguilar Reorganized #6.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children younger than 6 years old are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure since lead is easily absorbed in their still-developing nervous system.
The CDC says no safe blood lead level in children has been identified and even low levels of lead in blood can cause developmental delays, difficulty learning, behavioral issues, and neurological damage. The effects of lead poisoning can be permanent and disabling.