latest news Books, Backpacks and Water Bottles: How One Tennessee School District Is Making It Easier for Students to Stay Hydrated

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As kids across the nation return to their classrooms, students in one Tennessee school district will see some newer, cleaner fixtures on campus.

“Water fountains are some of the germiest surfaces found in schools,” said Leanne Durm-Minoux, the Tennessee Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “In fact, rather than using water fountains, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now encourages staff and students to bring their own water bottles to school.”

Bringing water bottles on campus and into classrooms just got a lot easier in Hamilton County, Tennessee as the Board of Education recently voted in favor of installing water bottle filling stations in all newly constructed or majorly renovated schools.

“Unlike water fountains, which require users to put their mouths close to the water dispenser, water bottle filling stations allow users to fill their personal bottles and stay hydrated on-the-go,” said Durm-Minoux. “As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important we encourage better policies that benefit the health and well-being of our students, and one way we can do that is by installing water bottle filling stations to help reduce the spread of germs and disease.”

Hamilton County is the first school district in the state of Tennessee and only second in the southeastern region of the U.S. to pass this important policy.

Aside from being more sanitary, easily accessible water bottle filling stations on school campuses can increase the amount of water students consume three-fold. And, the latest research demonstrates that drinking water can positively impact children’s cognitive performance, particularly their short-term memory.

"Water consumption is critical to maintaining a healthy weight and it’s important to refill our body’s water supply every day," said Cathy Jennings, coordinated school health coordinator for Hamilton County Schools. "The daily amount of water a child needs can range from five to eight cups a day and I'm so excited for our students to have convenient as well as increased water access at school."

This commitment is part of the American Heart Association’s priorities to make schools healthier and safer for students. The organization aims to pass similar water bottle refilling stations policy statewide.

Voices for Healthy Kids was pleased to support this work through a grant and technical assistance.

Want to help schools establish and implement policies that ensure kids have access to water at no cost throughout the school day? Check out our Water Access in Schools toolkit


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