I was sitting at my laptop when I received an automated call at about 5:30 p.m. Monday from Indiana American Water Co., with an alert for a Boil Water Advisory.
Due to a loss of pressure at the White River North Water Treatment facility, caused by an equipment malfunction, customers in Noblesville were being advised to boil any water used for consumption for at least three minutes as part of a precaution until further notice.
Then, I received an email repeating the precaution.
It was OK to use the water for bathing, washing and “other common uses.”
Repairs were to be made to the system and water samples were to be collected and analyzed to confirm no contamination entered the water distribution system.
About 45 minutes later, at 6:16 p.m., I received an email from Noblesville Schools, then at 6:27 p.m., an automated telephone call. “Due to the Indiana American Water precautionary boil water advisory, all evening activities are cancelled for Monday, Jan. 13,” the district announced. “Any students currently onsite at school facilities should be picked up immediately. We will communicate further details if school is impacted for tomorrow.”
Then at 7:37 p.m., I received another automated telephone call from Noblesville Schools, and at 8:29 p.m., an email. Noblesville Schools students would “use an eLearning day tomorrow Tuesday, Jan. 14, due to the ongoing Indiana American Water boil water advisory.” All after-school activities were also canceled, including my eighth-grade daughter’s show choir rehearsal with guest clinician Paul Gulsvig. His visit was rescheduled for Friday.
And in between the call and the email, I received an automated text from the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville (while she was playing in a basketball game at the Club’s Community Center), informing us that the Tuesday plan would close the Club if the boil order wasn’t lifted before 11:30 a.m.
While I’ve been aware of other communities having boil orders in the past, I don’t recall Noblesville having one since I’ve lived here these 25 years. I wasn’t worried about it. We would use bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth, and would heat the bottled water in the one-cup Keurig for any needed warm water.
Having an eLearning day was OK with us, although almost every eLearning day, we have more hours of schoolwork than a typical day at school. Staying home was fine. We could work in our pajamas, or sweatpants, like I sometimes do anyway.
But I think staying home for a just-announced eLearning day is not so welcome for some families that have strict work schedules. Do they call into work and take the day off? Do older siblings stay with younger ones? Does Grandma or Grandpa come in and babysit?
An array of hot topics relating to the boil advisory and the eLearning day quickly filled up the comments on the Noblesville Schools Community private group Facebook page.
When one parent posted, “FYI- eLearning tomorrow due to boil water advisory,” nearly 60 comments quickly followed, from GIFs of Steve Carrell from The Office saying “Oh No” to folks asking how to brush their teeth to complaints about anything and everything.
Why couldn’t the schools just shut off the drinking fountains and bring in bottled water to the nurse’s office? Students could drink milk and juice at lunch, one said. Another replied that the school doesn’t have stovetops to boil water for three minutes. Then one asked Facebook parents if it’s OK that their kids wash their hands in the water and put their hands in their mouths.
About the eLearning day, there was a conversation about why all of the schools had to be closed if the water didn’t affect all of them.
One parent said the eLearning day was a secret in her household to make sure her kids got in bed on time.
Working parents admitted it was “tough” but they “understood” and don’t want anyone to get sick.”
Another parent asked why the district didn’t wait until morning to announce, in case the advisory ended. But parents were glad for the advance warning. “It’s better they called it tonight …… At least this way people have more time to find other places for their kids tomorrow while they are at work.”
Another parent asked why all of the complaints, saying that eLearning now is better than makeup days in June.
Lil Bloomers children’s boutique offered an alternative for parents, a party at the store, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.., and electrical outlets and wifi for eLearning, lunch, water bottles, games and art projects for $25 per child. Owner Shauna Metzger said just less than a dozen kids were entertained all day. They ordered pizza for lunch and played musical chairs, had Alexander’s ice cream and did eLearning homework, Metzger said.
Besides school issues, folks were thinking of the Humane Society for Hamilton County in Noblesville. The shelter reported “overwhelming” support with “hundreds upon hundreds of gallons of water and water bottles,” many dropped off before the shelter opened on Tuesday. Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc. donated several pallets of water.
The advisory also lended to Hamilton County Emergency Management offering this tip: “The boil water advisory highlights the need to have an emergency kit. You need at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Make sure you and your family are ready for an emergency by building a kit.”
At just before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, we received an email message that the boil advisory was lifted and all evening school activities were back on. However, that didn’t include the Boys & Girls Club basketball practice at the elementary schools, due to all Club activities canceled for the evening. So sadly, we didn’t get in our basketball practice.
The message also said school would resume on Wednesday, which was a scheduled early-release day. So we’re back to normal. Well, not actually back to normal. At 5:18 a.m. Wednesday, I was awoken by another automated call from the school district. Noblesville Schools would be on a two-hour delay due to fog. And there would be no early release. There was also a course fair to be on Wednesday night at Noblesville High School, where incoming freshmen could learn more about high-school classes.
Of all of the Facebook comments, Stephanie Eads seemed to have the most logical comment about Tuesday’s eLearning day due to the boil advisory. She said, “Today is the exact reason why we have prepared students for eLearning. Life happens and we have to adjust.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.