With Toilets, Sinks Working, Jackson, Miss. Students Return To School For First Time In A Week

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Associated Press

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Torrential rains and flooding of the Pearl River in late August exacerbated problems at one of Jackson’s two treatment plants, leading to a drop in pressure throughout the city.

While its water crisis continued, students in Mississippi’s capital were able to return to class for the first time in a week Tuesday with assurances that the toilets and sinks in their buildings would finally work.

Jackson remained under a boil water advisory, but the drop in water pressure that had brought the system to near collapse appeared to be resolved, officials said.

Sherwin Johnson, a spokesperson for Jackson Public Schools, confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday that schools had re-opened after a drop in water pressure forced a move to virtual instruction.

A line of cars snaked around the block in front of Spann Elementary in northeast Jackson as parents arrived to pick up their children. Syreeta Tatum waited for her fourth grader to emerge from the building and lamented the uncertainty Jackson’s water woes had foisted upon parents and students.

“It was very frustrating,” said Tatum. “As a mother, you want to make sure your child is getting the best education possible, especially knowing that my child functions better in person.”

In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, the school district said it had “checked water pressure at each school” and found that “nearly all are suitable” for students and staff to return. Air conditioning systems at several schools depend on the water system to run effectively. The district said it anticipated delays in cooling buildings as temperatures reached the mid-80s on Tuesday.

“We are continuing to monitor and have portable fans and air conditioners to reduce temperatures in warm or hot areas,” Johnson said.

Torrential rains and flooding of the Pearl River in late August exacerbated problems at one of Jackson’s two treatment plants, leading to a drop in pressure throughout the city. The school district said Forest Hill High School in south Jackson still didn’t have water pressure. Johnson said students who attend Forest Hill were transported to alternative sites Tuesday.

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In a Tuesday news conference, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the water storage that was built over the weekend has decreased some over the past 24 hours.

“The safety net that has been built up has decreased and has diminished,” Lumumba said. “That is why we’re prayerful that everything remains consistent.”

If a challenge arises with plant operation Tuesday, it will likely impact customers, the mayor said.

In a Monday news conference, Gov. Tates Reeves said water distribution at schools would be scaled down in preparation for students’ return to campuses.

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