HCISD is hard at work behind the scenes in preparing for the next school year, and they are taking measures to ensure a safe return when the doors open for the 2020-2021 school year.
One of the many, but significant projects at hand is the installation of 122 new touchless water fountains throughout the school district.
The new models do not require the press of a button to allow water to flow because the system includes sensors that allow for a hands-free experience. Water bottles can quickly and easily be refilled in an upright position.
The initiative to install water bottle refill stations started as the need to provide more convenient ways to obtain water grew. However, the pandemic brought about new needs. Students and staff still need easy ways to stay hydrated throughout the day, but now reducing the spread of germs in schools is more significant than ever before.
“Prior to this COVID-19 situation, we were already installing some new fountains with water refill stations, but you had to push a button to activate the water,” Administrator for District Operations Ken Lee said. “The order we just placed for the 122 units are all touchless with a sensor-activated water dispenser. By doing this, we can help eliminate the spread of germs.”
One of the contactless models was installed at Harlingen High School in 2018 as a senior class gift. This refill station was not part of the current initiative, but it has seen great use in the last two years, and it gives us great insight into the future as similar models are installed.
“In the past, we were so used to going up and drinking water without knowing how germs might spread through a water fountain, but times are different now,” Harlingen High School Assistant Principal Adrian Soliz said. “On a normal school day, we see several students filling up their water bottles. That newer model is used more often than the older fountains next to it because it is touchless, and the water is filtered.”
The installation of these new systems is set to begin this fall.
“As the water fountains start coming in, we will begin installation at campuses which currently do not have any in existence,” Assistant Superintendent for District Operations/School Safety, Oscar Tapia said. “Once these are completed, we will move on to other campuses and eventually get all 122 units installed.”
These water refill stations also include a Green Ticker display, which updates users with the number of plastic bottles saved from waste after every use.