By WECT Staff | September 21, 2020 at 2:26 PM EDT – Updated September 23 at 7:07 PM

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – New Hanover County Schools has installed reverse osmosis water coolers at its schools that currently are serviced by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Sweeney Water Treatment Plant.

The water coolers feature a multi-stage filtration system which reduces/eliminates PFAS from the water.

Leaders have been working to get them in the buildings for nearly a year, but the project wrapped up ahead of schedule. The goal was to get them installed ahead of the 2021 school year.

The water coolers are leased from Quench and because the bids came in lower than expected, school leaders were able to add more coolers to schools.

Assistant superintendent of operations Eddie Anderson says the health department stresses the water coming from school water fountains was safe to drink, but administrators say they’re happy to give families concerned about Gen-X levels another option.

“Certainly been a hot topic and you know, again with the potential for contaminated water and the concerns of our families, we just felt that it was the right thing to do to provide a safe alternative,” said Anderson.

Many schools have several units spread out through high-traffic areas of the building so kids can fill up their water bottles between classes.

The school system says the units will remain in place until CFPUA completes construction on its new filtration system at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. The new system is scheduled to become operational in 2022.

Quench 810 bottleless water cooler in Hanover County School

New Hanover County Schools has installed bottle-less reverse osmosis water coolers at its schools that currently are serviced by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. (Source: NHCS)

New Hanover County Schools launches online college and career readiness program

The CTE department of New Hanover County Schools is launching a new online college and career readiness program called Xello for students and staff.

“The software helps students bridge the gap between education and the real world as well as pursue their interests aligned to pathways offered in the district,” NHCS officials said in a news release. “The curriculum is adapted to individual student responses on assessments, inventories, and reflections, making the learning experience more meaningful. Xello will be used by middle and high school teachers, Career Development Coordinators, Special Population Coordinators and Counselors.”

School system officials say the key highlights of Xello include:

  • Interactive and engaging lessons to help students with 21st-century skills.
  • Reporting and student feedback functionality that enable CTE staff and counselors to better understand and respond to the academic and career needs of each student as they work on their electronic portfolios.
  • Connection to PowerSchool and NCEd accounts: Xello lives in each student’s account making the simple sign-on process easy to find and use.
  • The Course Planning feature seamlessly connects to PowerSchool, leading to scheduling efficiencies that allow counselors to spend more time with and better understand the next steps for each student to ensure pathway alignment.
  • College Planning: Many tools assist with and track post-secondary outcomes.

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