What do reusable bottles have to do with the flu? These days, everything seems to be peripherally related to flu, but aside from that, a Baxter Bulletin article yesterday reports that one principal is attributing low absenteeism rates with the use of reusable bottles.

Principal Randi Connior of Yellville-Summit Elementary in Arkansas noted that only 4% of her students were absent on Tuesday. Many districts are reporting absentee rates of 14-20% and higher. Every student at her elementary school has a reusable water bottle so students don’t have to use the water fountains in the hallways. “If you’ve ever watched kids drink from a school fountain,” she said, “you’ll usually see them sucking on it.” Students have been issued a reusable water bottle every year since principal Connior noticed a drop in absenteeism during a boil-water advisory when the water fountains were not being used.

When I searched “school water fountain hygiene” on-line, I found out that there are plenty of schools who have zeroed in on water fountains as a likely culprit for spreading contagious disease. In Charlestown, West Virginia, some Kanawha elementary principals have called school health officials about banning water fountain use as a way to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus according to a Charleston Gazette article.

In their guide to avoiding infections when returing to schools this fall, the National Jewish Health website explicitly warns: “Water fountains can be the enemy. Take a reusable water bottle to school, instead of using the school water fountain, which may become contaminated with germs, especially during cold and flu season.”

I’m heartened to find that the solution of choice is reusable bottles, a very eco-friendly response, rather bottled water with all its associated wastefulness. Custom reusable bottles are readily available for bulk purchase with a quick turnaround time from Back2Tap for any school or parent group who would like to take this step toward keeping children healthy as this perilous flu season gets underway.