Long Beach school officials said they were notified Sunday that a student who lives in the City of Long Beach was diagnosed with a suspected E. coli infection this week, two days after Nassau County and city officials told residents that it was unsafe to drink tap water because strains of the bacteria had been detected in the city's water supply. As a precaution, the district will close three elementary schools that use the city's water supply on Monday.
“As you know, the City of Long Beach has been under a ‘boil water’ alert since Friday afternoon for possible E. coli contamination,” Schools Supertindent Dr. Jennifer Gallagher said in a joint statement on the district’s website and Facebook page with Michael DeVito, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations. “We have been notified that the alert will continue to tomorrow as well. We were also notified today that a student who lives within the city limits was diagnosed with a suspected E. coli infection this week. In an abundance of caution, we are going to close East, West, and Lindell schools tomorrow, Monday, June 24."
Gallagher and DeVito added that although the district is able to provide adequate bottled water to students and staff, it was unable to guarantee proper hand washing among students.
“Even though this is really precautionary, and we have been assured by the city that they hope that the alert will be lifted soon, we do not want to take any chances with the health and safety of our students and staff,” they said.
School officials did not immediately say how the student may have become ill with the bacteria and whether it was related to an E. coli strain detected at a private residence as part of routine testing earlier this week, when a water sample was taken between June 18 and June 20 on Grand Boulevard.
Because Long Beach High School and middle school, as well as Lido and pre-K are not affected by the alert – the buildings do not use the city’s water source – those schools will be in regular session on Monday, Gallagher and DeVito said.
The announcement came after city officials updated residents over the weekend that the Nassau County Department of Health did not expect to release additional updates until Monday as testing for the bacteria continued. The city was again distributing thousands of bottles of water to residents on Sunday provided by the state in conjunction with the county’s Office of Emergency Management.