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Batavia School District disinfecting water systems at three schools

BATAVIA – Beginning today, specialists and Batavia School District maintenance staff will disinfect the water systems at three schools after traces of Legionella bacteria were found at the schools.

The school district notified parents and staff on Thursday that traces of Legionella bacteria were found on faucets in two bathrooms at Alice Gustafson Elementary School/Early Childhood Center and Hoover-Wood Elementary School, as well as on a shower head at a girls locker room at Batavia High School.

The district has closed off the affected areas from students and staff. Today, the disinfection of the water systems at Alice Gustafson and Hoover-Wood will begin, and the process will begin Sunday at Batavia High School, Batavia School Superintendent Jack Barshinger said.

Barshinger said the presence of the bacteria does not pose a health hazard.

“This bacteria is commonly found in the environment,” he said. “The only danger is if it turns into a vapor or becomes airborne.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria would not spread from one person to another person.

Barshinger said the bacteria was detected through environmental assessments.

“We do environmental assessments on a building every six months,” he said.

Dina Piwowarczyk has a daughter in third grade at Hoover-Wood. While Piwowarczyk said she initially was concerned after receiving notification from the district, she felt the district handled the situation properly.

“It sounds like the school district had it under control,” she said. “I’ll trust the professionals.”

She explained the situation to her daughter in basic terms.

“I basically told her that they found a bad germ, and they were going to clean the school,” Piwowarczyk said. “I didn’t want to scare her.”

The school district also has been working closely with the Kane County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“They are taking the right steps to fix the situation and make sure those areas are clean,” said Chris Hoff, Kane County Health Department’s assistant director for community health resources.

There are no known cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Kane County or surrounding counties, Barshinger said.

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