Campbell County School District to pilot new vape detectors

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GILLETTE — School district officials will soon pilot a new vape detector in two different schools in an effort to curb vaping, which remains a prevalent issue within Campbell County School District.

The Halo Smart Sensor can identify vapes and THC smoke, as well as keywords and even aggression, which would be based on the noise or decibel levels in a given area. Since students can be expelled for vaping, there’s hope the sensors will discourage students from the activity, which would also decrease the disciplinary action needed throughout the district.

“There’s obviously a large presence of vaping with school-age kids,” said David Bartlett, Campbell County School District associate superintendent for instructional support. “Knowing there’s potential for expulsion, we’re trying to find ways to deter the activity on school property.”

Officials chose the Halo sensor after hearing feedback on the device from other school districts across the state and out of state. Bartlett said those districts said the sensor, which looks similar to a smoke detector, had “great success” and seemed to limit the number of students using vapes in school.

Along with detecting vape and THC smoke, the sensors can also speak, informing students that vapes have been detected and administration is on the way, Bartlett said. He stressed that the district is piloting the device and will see if it’s effective before rolling them out across the district.

Over Christmas break, Bartlett said the plan is to begin installing the sensors into one of the high schools, adding that parents and students will be notified before the sensors go into effect. The programming is extensive so that administrators know where to go when sensors go off.

If officials see progress at the high school level, they would then extend the sensors to a junior high.

Bartlett said that at each level, district administrators would work with each school’s higher-ups to see which functions they’d like to use at their school. Those employees could also speak to the trouble areas where they’d like the sensors placed, like bathrooms or more isolated rooms on campus.

“So often when you put something new out there it’s just kind of unknown,” Bartlett said. “You don’t know what you don’t know. If we do choose to deploy district-wide, the pilots will show some pitfalls that can be avoided and allows for a smoother process.”

The cost for installation, equipment and training at the pilot high school and junior high comes to about $6,000 to $7,000, Bartlett said. That money comes from Title IV funding, which addresses different areas in education including the support of safe and healthy students.