Public hearing at George Mason Elementary School

Hope Talley, a fourth-grade teacher at Richmond’s George Mason Elementary School, speaks of her frustrations with the conditions at the school and with the School Board during a public hearing at Mason. Her surgical mask is a nod to the fact that some teachers wear masks when the air quality in the building bothers them.

Two water fountains at Richmond schools were taken out of service after testing positive for lead.

A single water fountain at both Ginter Park Elementary and George Mason Elementary schools were shut down after the preliminary reports of water testing showed high, but still legal, levels of lead.

The water fountain at George Mason had 0.5 to 1.2 parts per billion of lead, while the fountain at Ginter Park showed 0.3 to 3.0 parts per billion.

Virginia code allows for up to 20 parts per billion of lead in water, but the district said it wanted to be proactive. The school system is providing bottled water to students, faculty and staff at both schools.

The testing was done by United Parents Against Lead, a group organized by a Richmond teacher.

George Mason is openly referred to as the district’s worst school when it comes to infrastructure. Officials considered moving students out of the school this summer, but instead put $130,000 in improvements into the 1922 building.

The district will conduct more lead tests this week, School Board member Jonathan Young said.

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— Justin Mattingly

Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers K-12 schools and higher education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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