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School Districts Increasing Use Of Vapor Detector Systems In Bathrooms

by Pleasant View

Districts in the valley are fighting a new issue: students vaping. To attempt to reduce the problem, some schools have installed vape detectors in bathrooms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of students who use tobacco products has dropped in the past year from 14.1% to 10%. However another dangerous habit is on the rise. In the year 2023, vapes and other e-cigarette products were the most popular form of tobacco used among middle and high school students.

The Arizona Youth Survey, which was conducted in 2022, found that 13.6% of eighth graders had used a vape at least once in their lifetime. In addition, 21% of 10th graders and 27% of 12th graders reported using e-cigarettes. Even though these figures were lower than in prior years, schools still see this as a significant problem on campus.

The Peoria Unified School District is just one of the many districts in the valley who are trying to stay on top of the trend of students vaping on campus

Last year, the Peoria Unified School District added Verkada vape sensors to one of its high school bathrooms. These sensors, which bear a resemblance to smoke alarms, have the ability to detect the particles and chemicals coming from vaping. When the sensor registers someone vaping, it will send an email or text to school staff.

By utilizing cameras situated outside of the bathrooms, school resource officers and security personnel can identify the student in question and administer any necessary disciplinary action.

The district witnessed an upsurge in student behavior when the vape detectors were first installed, followed by a decline afterwards.

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Administrators know that school bathrooms are a popular spot for students to vape since there is a lack of adult surveillance, while, vaping in hallways and classrooms is not as common since there are cameras and staff members present. This past summer, the district expanded the vape sensors installation in additional high school bathrooms and is now in the process of broadening the scope of the sensors to include middle school bathrooms.

The school district is working with school resource officers to help convey the message and communicate with the students about the long-term health effects their habit may have.

Schools have an uphill battle as vapes are becoming less noticeable, as some that are disguised as highlighters and look like ordinary pens and are easy to conceal and use.

Mesa Public Schools is experimenting with the Halo Smart Sensor, a device designed to detect vaping. Red Mountain High School has been chosen to trial the technology by having the sensor installed in one of its bathrooms.

Red Mountain High staff members reports they receive an average of 15 alerts a day from the bathroom sensor, with five of them leading to disciplinary action. They noted that with additional personnel, they could be quicker to attend to more of the alerts and thus have more success in catching violations.

The Mesa Public Schools Board of Education is anticipating to give permission for the sensors to be installed in all middle and high schools.

The objective is not to apprehend students; rather, the goal is to make bathrooms a secure environment and to show that vaping is not tolerated.

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