As parents and caregivers waited to pick up their little ones from Beaver Bank Kinsac Elementary school on Thursday, many were not happy to hear one of the drinking fountains inside has tested positive for lead in its water.
"That's a little concerning, I wasn't aware of that, and I don't know if my daughter is aware of that," said Mike Britten as he waited to take his grandson home.
Klara Dougherty, who has two children attending the school, says it's definitely a health and safety concern for her.
"They should have probably looked into this years ago," she said. "I mean, obviously it's been going on for a while."
Last year, the school asked students to start bringing their own drinking water to school and also provided bottled water.
According to test results posted online by the Nova Scotia Education Department, the water from what's described as a "fountain beside the boys washroom [sic]", tested at 0.0065 mg/L, above Canada's drinking water guidelines.
Results for every Nova Scotia school are on now on the department's website and show the results after thousands of taps and fountains were tested.
That testing began after Health Canada set a new reduced limit for the maximum acceptable concentration of lead in drinking water, cutting it in half from 0.01 mg/L to 0.005 mg/L.
According to the data, almost every school in the province has lead in its water somewhere, coming out of taps in cafeteria kitchens, staff rooms, offices, and science labs.
The province tested 1,241 drinking fountains -- and 14 per cent of them failed.
The worst drinking fountain in the province is at Gaetz Brook Junior High School, where a fountain by a girls' washroom tested at 4.6 mg/L – more than 900 times the federal maximum.
Thursday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil assured parents that bottled drinking water has been, and will continue to be, provided.
"I want to say to parents, in every school across this province, there's drinking water that is safe for their children to be drinking."
Drinking fountains have already been marked off limits at schools because of COVID-19 this school year. But some parents, like Jennifer Raven, wonder how long this has been a problem.
"It's frightening," said Raven.
She has three children in school in the Hubbards area, including her daughter, who is in Grade 12. Every school her children have attended in the community has several water sources that failed the test.
"Do we need to get all our children tested now?" she wonders. "What comes after this?"
The minister of education says lead levels in the water at schools have always followed federal limits.
"Previously, before the exceedance levels were lowered by Health Canada, we were under their previous health and safety guidelines," said Zach Churchill.
But the provincial test data doesn't include results from previous years, which doesn't sit well with some, including the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
"Parents still have no idea whether water quality is better or worse than it was in the past," said Paul Wozney.
According to the province's Progressive Conservative party, more than 1,900 taps with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education alone did not meet the Health Canada guideline.
In a news release, Progressive Conservative Education Critic Tim Halman says parents need more information.
"Parents expect the government to release a full breakdown of how many total taps are contaminated, with regional breakdowns, and more importantly, when they plan on fixing them."
Parent Gillian Ezekiel agrees.
"Let's fix it, they're our children, they deserve better," said.
Churchill says the Education Department is working on figuring out what each school needs to remediate the problem, as the source of the lead differs from school to school. For some, he says, it's the pipes or the taps themselves, while for others the issue is at the source.
Churchill says the province doesn't know how much money, or time, that will take.