As the St. John the Baptist Parish government continues trying to eradicate a potentially fatal brain-damaging amoeba from a portion of its water system, the St. John School Board has declared a state of emergency.

The declaration allows the school system to bypass public bid laws to buy bottled water for students at six schools.

School officials estimate they will spend $17,500 for dispensers at the schools for 60 days.

State health officials said the amoeba is dangerous only if the infected water gets into the nasal cavity and reaches the brain.

They ordered St. John to elevate chlorine flushing on Aug. 27 after samples taken Aug. 12 indicated there was no chlorine in a system that serves more than 12,000 people in parts of the parish.