Title 16

Chapter 21
Health and Safety of Pupils

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-21-37

§ 16-21-37. Water bottle filling stations in new and renovated schools.

(a) The state of Rhode Island finds and declares that:

(1) Water plays an important role in maintaining a child’s overall health;

(2) Drinking water can positively impact children’s cognitive performance;

(3) Drinking water can improve children’s fine motor skills and visual attention, which helps with learning activities, such as reading;

(4) Drinking water can help people maintain a healthier weight.

(b) The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all newly constructed schools and those schools undergoing major building renovations incorporate adequate water bottle filling stations to increase access to free, easily accessible, safe, and good-tasting drinking water on school property.

(c) Major renovations shall mean renovations with a total estimated cost of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) or more, or involving the substantial repair, replacement, or upgrading of the plumbing system or plumbing fixtures.

(d) All newly constructed public school buildings and public school buildings undergoing major renovations, such as additions, within the state of Rhode Island shall be equipped with water bottle filling stations consistent with the requirements of this policy.

(e) The school committees of each city or town and/or the governing authority overseeing school policies or construction shall not approve the plans or specifications for a new public school building, any addition, or major renovations of an existing public school building unless the plans and specifications provide for the following:

(1) A minimum of one water bottle filling station per one hundred (100) people projected to occupy the building upon completion of the proposed construction;

(2) A minimum of one water bottle filling station on each floor and on each wing of each school building;

(3) A minimum of one water bottle filling station located in or near gymnasiums, cafeterias, and other high-traffic areas;

(4) Water bottle filling stations may be integrated into drinking fountains; and

(5) Schools are encouraged to install touchless water bottle filling stations for sanitary reasons.

(f) A water bottle filling station installed in a public school building must:

(1) Dispense clean, cooled, filtered drinking water;

(2) Be regularly cleaned to maintain sanitary conditions; and

(3) Be maintained on a regular basis to ensure it functions properly.

(g) Students, teachers, and staff shall be allowed to bring and carry approved water bottles under the following conditions:

(1) Water bottles shall be made of material that is not easily breakable;

(2) Water bottles shall have a lid to prevent spills;

(3) Water bottles shall be used exclusively for water and no other beverage;

(4) Water bottles shall be allowed in classrooms, but may be excluded from libraries, computer labs, science labs, and other places where it is deemed dangerous to have drinking water;

(5) Misuse of water bottles may be subject to disciplinary action.

History of Section.
P.L. 2021, ch. 115, § 1, effective January 1, 2022; P.L. 2021, ch. 116, § 1, effective January 1, 2022.