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Water coolers replace school drinking fountains in Detroit

DETROIT — Thousands of Detroit public schools students are being told to drink from district-supplied water coolers or bottled water on the first day of classes.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said last week that all fountains would be shut down at the start of the school year after elevated levels of lead or copper were found in some fixtures in 34 schools. Test results are pending for other schools.

Lead was found leaching from aging pipes into homes in Flint, Michigan, several years ago. As parent Quala (KWAY’-luh) Bennett dropped two children off at Gardner Elementary Tuesday, she wondered why the district only recently began testing its water.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers union says it will supplement the district’s efforts by delivering bottled water and hand sanitizers to schools.