In its report, the KCHD recommended that the schools re-flush their pipes, that the National Guard collect new water samples, and that the schools then notify the KCHD so it could do another inspection.
But flushing didn't happen until the morning of Feb. 5, after kids had been in the schools for two days. Flushing was still going on as students arrived at school Feb. 5, kicking up the odors that many have blamed for the illnesses reported that day.
West Virginia American Water was doing its own flushing of a large tank in Belle the night of Feb. 4 and throughout the next day, which interfered with the school's flushing.
Laura Jordan, a water company spokeswoman, said the schools should not have been flushing their pipes that Wednesday morning.
"I'm not sure why they flushed at the school that morning," Jordan wrote in an email. "Once it was determined that we were going to drain the tank and do additional flushing, it would have been best for the school to wait for us to contact them when the full tank draining and hydrant flushing efforts were complete before they began flushing the school again."
Jordan said the water company told local and state officials of its plans on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Goodwin and Liza Cordeiro, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, did not respond to questions about the flushing or any actions the state took after receiving the KCHD report Monday, Feb. 3.
State Schools Superintendent Jim Phares was included in Goodwin's chain of emails, and knew of that Sunday's water complaints.
Despite that, on Wednesday, as the schools were being flushed, Phares said that the flushing was unrelated to the chemical and the odors.
"We were made [aware] earlier today that there was a odor detected at both Midland Trail and Riverside in Kanawha County," Phares said at a news conference on Wednesday. "Kanawha County had actually received the OK to flush the lines in the schools, not because of the MCH[M] but because of discoloration of the water. There had been a water line break earlier in the week."
Jordan confirmed that there was a large main break in Belle that Tuesday evening that caused the discoloration.
After the problems at Midland Trail and Riverside, and after the chemical was found at detectable levels at several other schools, the state established a "rapid response team" to deal with the chemical issues.
That team is composed of experts from KCHD, the West Virginia National Guard and the state Department of Environmental Protection's air quality division.
The team is tasked with deciding when to shut down or evacuate schools because of water complaints, but its protocol for doing so is vague.
For instance, last Monday, the "rapid response team" investigated complaints at four Kanawha County schools. Students were dismissed early from Grandview Elementary, in North Charleston, but class continued as scheduled in the other three, with little rationale given as to what was different.
When asked for guidelines or documentation that the "rapid response team" uses, Cordeiro said that the guidelines were developed in early February but offered little specific information.
Cordeiro sent the Gazette-Mail a "Rapid Response Team Approach" document that says, "The team will join the maintenance crew and responding county emergency management personnel at the school. Together, they will assess the situation."
The document also says the team will speak to school staff to "track down what prompted the complaint" and will perform "spot checks and random testing" of the water.
On Thursday evening, the state Department of Education sent out a news release announcing that Tomblin had called for additional water sampling in the 109 schools affected by the chemical leak, and will now test water for levels of MCHM at 2 parts per billion.
"Student safety continues to be our top priority," Tomblin said in the release. "As a parent, I understand that families need the additional peace of mind that comes with this testing."
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.