Berkley High School to discourage vaping with detectors in restrooms

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With teen use of nicotine vaping up nationwide, Berkley High School is getting ready to install special sensors in restrooms that can detect when students use the devices.

High School Principal Andrew Meloche in a letter to parents this week said every restroom in the school will be outfitted with a vape sensor.

“When these sensors detect the presence of vapor from electronic cigarettes and vaping devices,” he said in the letter, “a silent alarm will be sent to designated individuals within the building who, in turn, immediately report to the identified restroom.”

Students in restrooms where vaping is found will be taken to school administration officials.

They may face consequences for violating the Berkley School District Student Code of Conduct, Meloche said. 

“Our colleagues at Oakland Schools Technical Campus (OSTC) expressed a positive experience with their investment in vape sensors,” Meloche said in his letter, adding that OSTC reported a decline in vaping in restrooms and an increase in the comfort level of students using the restroom. He said he hopes Berkley High School has the same success.

Meloche did not immediately respond to calls for comment Friday.

The school district has purchased 20 Halo Smart Sensors, which will be installed in all the restrooms at the high school.

The high school is working with the manufacturer to set an installation date.

The federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month released a national youth tobacco and vaping survey.

Findings show that more than just over 11 percent, or about 3 million, of middle and high school students had used a nicotine substance, from tobacco products to vaping, in the past month.

Figures for nicotine use indicated that 16 percent of high schoolers and 4.5 percent of middle school students had used nicotine products.

“This study shows that our nation’s youth continue to be enticed and hooked by an expanding variety of e-cigarette brands delivering flavored nicotine,” said Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, PhD., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a recent press release. “Our work is far from over. It’s critical that we work together to prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco product – including e-cigarettes – and help all youth who do use them, to quit.”

Candy, fruit and sweet flavored e-cigarettes are popular with 85 percent of students who vape, and more than 25 percent of them vape on a daily basis, according to the survey.

Halo Smart Sensors for vaping detect abnormal qualities in the air. When that happens, faculty is alerted by the device whenever it picks up any traces of harmful chemicals within the range of the detector.

Schools have been installing vape detectors for at least the last several years. Halo sensors look a lot like smoke detectors and have been installed in more than 1,000 schools nationwide.

But there are nearly 24,000 high schools in the U.S. and most of them don’t have vape detectors at this point.

A spokeswoman for nearby Royal Oak Schools said Friday the district has no detectors and has made no decision about whether to install them in restrooms.